Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Give–and you give again.

December 11, 2012
One here, one there.

One yellow schoolbag full of supplies here, one there–it makes a difference.

Gifts that are useful and delightful are great. What’s even greater? Gifts that are useful, delightful—and helpful to others. Fairware loves Schoolbags for Kids’ “One here, one there” campaign, which offers the perfect way to give a cool gift that gives again.

Schoolbags for Kids (SfK), like Fairware, is a certified B Corporation company, and it’s dedicated to getting school supplies into the hands of children in the developing world who need them. These young ones often face obstacles to formal education that we in wealthier countries can hardly imagine—including struggles to obtain even basic school supplies.


Children from Homes of Hope Orphanage, Secunderabad, India, with their bright yellow schoolbags.

How does SfK help? That’s where you come in. Every time you purchase one of their funky, kid-friendly backpacks—a great gift for any child—SfK donates a school bag full of supplies to a child in Thailand, Belize, or India. The donated bags are made of water-resistant, 600-denier polyester, and are bright yellow to keep the children who wear them highly visible. As these kids must often walk miles along very busy roads to get to school, this feature helps keep them just that much safer.

But this great idea isn’t just for people with kids on their gift lists. Looking for meaningful gifts for the adults in your life? What better gift for a client or colleague than a card saying you’ve made a donation to Schoolbags for Kids on their behalf? Contact Fairware ( and let us set up a great program of schoolbag donations for you this holiday season.

As the saying goes, “It’s all win!”

Fairware Holiday Better Gift Guide

November 1, 2012

With a little effort, you can avoid holiday gifting pitfalls.

The holiday season is fast approaching—and along with the cheer comes that annual shopping stress. For business owners, this can also mean finding the perfect way to thank clients and employees for their support and hard work. We think it’s important to give fun and unique gifts that align with a company’s values. All of Fairware’s products come with an option to personalize—but we know that not everyone is keen on logos. That’s why we’ve got lots of options for great gifts (another option is to use the standard imprint area of a product to send a non-branded message like ‘thanks’ . We’ve complied a handy list of some of our favourite gifts to give, and gifts to get.

When buying for clients, we like to focus on enjoyable gifts that tread a little more on the side of enjoyment, rather than work. These gifts are all beautifully crafted by sustainable manufacturers, making them good for the giving, and good for the planet.

Holiday purchasing doesn’t have to feel or look like a rushed job. Planning early and setting aside time for gift distribution is a great way to start—and we’re here to help you along the way. Contact us with any questions regarding gift giving or to discuss the many more options we have to offer. We’ll be happy to help you fill your office with cheer!

Social Media Intern – 4 Month Contract

August 29, 2012

Note: This paid position is for a student intern – you should be considering going back to school or be in a current program to apply.


At Fairware we believe we can change the world through the simple act of buying. We create cool, sustainable swag (‘stuff we all get’) that make powerful statements and tell meaningful stories about the people and the brands we work with. We work with North America’s leading sustainable brands to create unique, ethically sourced custom products made with environmentally preferred materials. You can check us out at

Social Media Strategy and Implementation Intern Position
Preferred Start Date: Sept 4, 2012
End date: December 31, 2012
Total Hours: 420, minimum of 30 hours per week
Wage: $25/hour

Social Media Strategy and Implementation

Fairware is seeking an experienced student to improve our social media presence through augmenting existing platforms and developing and implementing new ones. The intent is to increase awareness of our brand in the social media space, resulting in increased traffic to our website. (new site launched July 2012). The intent is for the student to create strategies which staff will continue to implement and monitor when the student leaves. Utilizing the student to create a framework and structure for the various platforms will allow us to successfully continue developing and growing our social media presence. Student will be provided with designated work station and ongoing training and supervision required to successfully complete the work.

What the job involves:

Existing platforms:

Facebook – create strategy and guidelines/best practice for gaining more followers. Report/teach staff on content and frequency of posts required for optimizing Facebook. In consultation with team, post content a minimum of twice per week. Increase followers, monitor traffic to website from Facebook page.

Twitter – Create and implement strategy for Fairware staff twitter accounts. Grow official Fairware account followers. Monitor traffic from twitter to website.

New Platforms:


Research and develop 6-8 boards in consultation with team and launch account. Coordinate with website developer to integrate account with website. Monitor traffic to website from Pinterest. Grow/monitor number of followers and ‘re-pins’

Video Vignettes:

In discussion with team, create a list of short videos to be made and subsequently uploaded to Fairware website. Subjects to include, Fairware story, product/materials knowledge; case studies. Film minimum of 5 videos and create roll out schedule for uploading to Fairware website.

Skills Required:

Computer; in-depth knowledge of social media; excellent written and communication skills; ability to work in an open office/team environment.

How to Apply:

Please send us a one page letter outlining your relevant experience. Attach it to a resume that captures your related experience and email it to with the words Social Media Strategy and Implementation in the subject line by September 4, 2012. No phone calls please.

What you don’t know about sustainability could come back to bite you in the brand assets: Guest Post from Green Briefs

May 31, 2012

When we read this post that Lorne Craig of Unicycle Creative wrote for Sustainable Brands, we couldn’t help but share it. It’s a great read on what marketers need to know about sustainability (and why they need to know it). Plus, Lorne’s Green Brief’s Blog has the best logo ever.

The Golden Age of Marketing was like the Golden Age of Air Travel – a worry-free world of possibility, where confident captains whisked you away to exotic destinations with drinks served by beautiful people. No one made you take off your shoes at security. Heck, no one even asked you to butt out your Marlboro once the No Smoking sign was off.

These days, marketing is more like a round-the-world flight with 50 stopovers under terror threat twelve. Woe to those who don’t know what is hiding in their corporate baggage.

Welcome to Sustainability Literacy 101. Once the lonely purview of university professors and public TV documentary hosts, this thick file of supply chain subterfuge, carbon calculation and global guilt gone wild has now landed squarely on the marketer’s desk.

So what do you need to know? As no two brands have the same sustainability context, it helps to understand the issues in your space. An electronics marketer should be familiar with the traditional vulnerabilities of offshore manufacturing, like factory working conditions, child labor, conflict minerals and hazardous material content. Companies that make anything that goes in us, on us, or around us (think food, cosmetics and cleaning products), may have to go even further up their supply chain to understand production of sub-ingredients, sourcing of raw materials and even post-consumer biodegradability.

But can’t we just forward all those grumpy calls to the Customer Service line? Or better yet, to the freshly-minted Sustainability Coordinator in the repurposed janitorial closet office down the hall?

No, for two reasons.

Risk And Opportunity

As marketers, it is our job to tell the stories about our brands that engage people. As we filter through agency pitches, website content and social media mayhem, it is easy to approve an idea that could have unfortunate fall-out. (Like launching a North America-wide video contest for kids just as a story breaks about child-labor infractions in your supplier factory overseas) Even if your obscure B2B communications never see the public light of day, it is critical that you understand where you are most sustainably vulnerable.

Sustainability illiteracy could also cost you competitively. Many companies do more than what is required by regulation, and too often, the people and passion behind these efforts go unsung. These tales can be the stuff of viral media legend, putting you head and shoulders above competition that does not know or care enough to share them.

So how do you begin to tackle this world of science, faith and superstition?

Getting Started

One useful resource I have found is the website for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a widely accepted standard for sustainability reporting. Their G3.1 Guidelines put issues of social, environmental and economic sustainability into categories that can help you see which are most relevant.

Consider involving your sustainability department in a marketing brainstorming session, to create a stronger bond between what your company is saying and what it is actually delivering.

And don’t forget to engage your stakeholders. Talk to your customers, sales team, and executive about which sustainability issues are most pressing. This can narrow your field of inquiry into what might otherwise be a very deep rabbit hole.

Above all, as you embark on your Sustainability Literacy voyage, remember the world of marketing should still reflect a glow of the golden age. The main objective of knowing what your baggage contains is to avoid the rubber glove at security, but you should always enjoy the view out the window once you take flight.

Preferably while sipping an organic, fair-trade-certified piña colada with an FSC-certified paper umbrella in it.

Check out more Green Briefs here.

Two Words: Alignment and Authenticity > Guest Post from Conscientious Innovation

May 18, 2012

This article was written by Kierstin DeWest of Conscientious Innovation (Ci). Ci  is a strategic information company founded in 2002 focused on insight for innovation, business success and a better world. Ci produces the Shift Report; a strategic research tool specifically designed for innovation, business success and positive change. 

I was recently at lunch with two friends, one of whom brought her husband. After the couple departed, I found myself apologizing to my other friend for the husband’s rude behavior, the mildest part of which included leering gestures at the waitress and comments that don’t need to be repeated.

“Don’t worry about it,” he responded. “I always try to focus on the points of alignment with someone. There’s always something. And once I found them, it was an interesting conversation where we were both engaged.”

Alignment is crucial.

As businesses seek to define and tell their sustainability story in the landscape of shifting consumer values — which they must do in order to be culturally relevant — there has been significant focus on environmental issues where there is less likely to be alignment and which aren’t necessarily the most important to some people.

Sustainability (a word so overused, misused and abused that I’ve started calling it the S-Word) is about the issues that lie underneath it. These are a collection of issues that include but go beyond green and include personal, social and spiritual sustainability issues.

This was uncovered both qualitatively and quantitatively in our market intelligence tool, The SHIFT Report. These sustainability issues are important to mainstream consumers in varying degrees. However, across most consumers groups — from either a brand consumption, activity, demographic, lifestyle or political point of view — green issues are not necessarily the most important ones. They are significantly surpassed in importance by social and personal sustainability issues: community connection, fair trade and employee treatment. These are areas consumers feel personally affected by or connected to, and represent two key motivations for caring about brands and companies.

People aren’t waking up across the globe declaring, “I want a green life.” Rather, they are waking up saying that they want a connected, conscious, thriving and sustainable life (though they don’t necessarily use those words). Brands and their storytellers need to understand this in order to define and tell their stories and engage consumers in conversations. As one respondent put it during one of our focus groups, “How can we take care of the environment if we can’t even take care of ourselves?”

Environmental sustainability is crucial, but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. Green needs to be looked at in the context of other sustainability issues, not in a silo. Green may turn out to be the best color of a brand’s sustainability message, but it might not be.

Unless brand manager focus on the issues that define a brand and determine which issues authentically align with their initiatives and audience, they risk making misleading claims, not connecting with their audience and potentially alienating others. When brand managers targeting a diverse global or national audience look primarily at environmental issues without interconnection and context to broader sustainability issues, the result can be a brand experience that doesn’t bring disparate and diverse audiences together, but keeps them apart. Looking at green in a silo doesn’t reflect a big-picture understanding of the cultural shift to sustainability, in which people are redefining the criteria by which they make lifestyle choices, purchases and brand decisions, It misses the forest for the trees, and in doing so can also reinforce sustainability myths, such as that those on the political left are more engaged with sustainability than those on the political right.

Indeed, looking at political parties in the U.S. and Canada and how voters connect with sustainability issues is a good way to assess brand alignment within a mass and diverse mainstream audience. For Republican and Democrat voters (or, in Canada, Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Green Party voters), alignment is not necessarily around environmental issues, it’s around all the other issues: schools, housing security, health care and general well-being. This bigger-picture, interconnected approach doesn’t minimize the importance of environmental sustainability. But it delivers on its importance in a different way.

Let’s take look at two social sustainability issues where there is alignment across a diverse audience: community connection and supporting locally based business, which are themselves interconnected. With the support of local business and local economies, the environment becomes the beneficiary (such as lower greenhouse gas emissions) rather than the direct strategy. Environmental sustainability issues are supported, but they are a direct result of focusing on key areas of alignment across a diverse audience: buying local and supporting locally based business.

Thus, brands — political or otherwise — that speak to a diverse audience have two key words to keep in mind when telling their story in a culture of shifting consumer values: authenticity and alignment. What can they authentically talk about given their initiatives around sustainability? And where do these internal sustainability truths align with their diverse audience?

Determining the sweet spot that aligns these truths will uncover opportunities that deliver on business priorities to drive positive change and business success.

Read the original post here:

“B” is for Benefit: Fairware joins the BCorp Community

April 24, 2012

Fairware recently became a member of the B Corporation Community. Certified B Corporations are recognized as using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems and are unlike traditional businesses because they meet specific criteria, including:

  • Meeting comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards;
  • Meeting higher legal accountability standards;
  • Building a business constituency of good businesses.

To become a B Corporation, Fairware had to achieve 3 things:

  1. Take and pass the B Impact Rating System which sets a benchmark for the social and environmental impact of good companies.
  2. Adopt the B Corporation Legal Framework to incorporate the mission of Fairware into our legal structure.
  3. Sign a Term Sheet that makes our certification official.

By successfully completing these steps we have joined the ranks of Patagonia, Aspen and other partners of the B Corporation Community recognized for CSR leadership. The media has been shining a light on this little known corporate structure of late with recent articles in FORBES, Christian Science Monitor, and GOOD.

For Fairware, becoming a B-Corp was driven by a few factors. First and foremost, we view the changes to our incorporation documents and shareholder agreement as an act of advocacy, of walking our talk and of sending a signal to the world that there is a different way to do things.

The B Corp rating system and questionnaire process was also a good internal ‘gut-check’ or audit – it highlighted some gaps in our own systems (e.g. while we do corporate giving in practice, it’s not guided by any policy or framework).

And finally, it serves to send a signal to our customers, vendors and peers that we’re committed to a business model that reflects community and environmental priorities. In an increasingly crowded space of ‘green’ or ethical companies, it provides us with a 3rd party stamp of approval that we’re the real deal.

We’re proud to be a B-Corp and we’re happy to announce we will be offering a 15% discount to other B Corporations on orders over $1000. We are thrilled to be working with the BCorp community!

2011 in Review – Our Blog Stats.

January 25, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,700 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Fairware is Growing & We’re looking for a fabulous Sales Account Representative

August 24, 2011

Fairware is Growing & We’re looking for a fabulous Sales Account Representative

Fairware provides high impact socially and environmentally responsible promotional products and our team is growing. We are currently seeking a Vancouver based, results driven Outside Sales Account Representative to develop new and existing business in the US and Canada.

Role Overview

  • You will acquire, manage, retain and grow a dynamic client base in both the US and Canada.
  • You will use your creativity to develop promotional campaign ideas that are “out of the box” and help clients align their promotional products with their social and environmental values.
  • You’ll research, understand & communicate the social and environmental attributes of our products and our unique company strengths and position.
  • You’ll be confident in prospecting warm and cold clients on a regular basis to set up meetings and introduce Fairware to new clients (e.g. averaging 50+ calls per week).
  • You’ll provide accurate quotes and create product sales proposals that highlight the business values of our service and products.
  • You’ll build, implement and drive a targeted sales plan.
  • You’ll deal professionally with clients, suppliers and vendors to ensure order fulfilment.
  • You’ll participate in team meetings and you’ll assist with special projects when needed.

Skills & Experience Required:

  • You have 3-5+​ years of successful outside B2B sales experience.​
  • You have experience with prospecting, developing and closing new accounts
  • You’re outgoing, self-confident and self-motivated.​
  • You have networks with progressive businesses and non-profit organizations.​
  • You’re able to leverage your existing relationships and develop new relationships.​
  • You can multi task, thrive and have a willingness to learn in a fast paced entrepreneurial and deadline driven environment.
  • You have strong presentation and communication skills in person and on the phone.
  • You have strong organization skills and good attention to detail
  • You have knowledge and an interest in social responsibility; environmental sustainability and sustainable products.
  • You are proficient with Word, Excel and Outlook ( working knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator an asset).
  • Experience with CRM systems such as Salesforce an asset.
  • Willingness to travel as needed.
  • Experience selling printed products, apparel, and promotional products preferred.​


Base Salary + Commission and Benefits.

How to Apply:

Please send us a one page letter outlining your relevant experience and why you want to work for Fairware – attach it to a resume that captures your related experience and email it to with the words Sales Rep in the subject line by September 09, 2011. No phone calls please and we’ll only be contacting suitable candidates. Learn more about us:


TWITTER                @fairwarepromo

Good Design and Promo Products – Oxymoron?

May 24, 2011

Font Geek / Flickr mat_honan

I had a rare chance to read an old copy of the Sunday New York Times recently and was struck by an article on a t-shirt design contest at Oberlin College in Ohio. The article touched on something we’ve known all along – gone are the days of sticking your corporate/school logo on something and expecting someone to wear it. Rather than the college name emblazoned on the front of the shirts (boring), stylized and iconic symbols of life on campus are screened to perfection. Hallelujah.

So, what up with the promo product world? A lot of companies and non-profit organizations still seem to think their brand is enough to convince folks to pull their t-shirt over their head more often than all the others in the drawer (or grab their re-usable mug, their tote bag, you get the idea).

But, seriously, when was the last time you put on a t-shirt with something like Deloitte Consulting, Kaiser Permanante or Safeway on the front of it?  I can think of a few cool killers offhand & here is a short list:

1. Brand Police. We’re often presented with brand guidelines in advance of doing work with a client. By and by, the brand guidelines were designed for letterhead and AGM reports. They’re useful for getting the pantone right and for figuring out what the black & white version of a logo is really suppose to look like.  But too often they serve as the final word on creativity – thereby rendering the creative expression of a brand to it’s logo and nothing more. Brand guidelines are party poopers when you want to have a little fun.

2. No Time to Design. Last minute planning means folks aren’t empowered to drift from what they know their boss will approve without blinking. I can’t tell you the number of times we start a conversation rife with creativity only to default to the standard logo in the standard place because the time wasn’t there to get approvals and buy-in to designs that fall outside the box.

3. Lack of Clear Marketing Objectives/No specific audience. Too often purchasing  promotional products doesn’t come under the same rigor as other marketing spends. Without understanding your audience, intended outcome or call to action, the opportunity to align messaging with a clear outcome is lost. And understanding who your intended audience is can inform design.

In the case of t-shirts, the real challenge for companies is creating a true ‘wearable’ vs. another give-away t-shirt. All of us have a dozen (or more) shirts in our drawer, and all of us wear the same 3-4 over and over. So how do you get someone to pick yours as part of their favorite stash of tees?  You get them with design, people, you get them with design. Here are a few of our favorite and tips:

1. Secret Messages. Consider printing your core messages/logo/branding inside the t-shirt, under the flap of the messenger bag, ect (and use the main real estate for a cool graphic that has a chance of being work again and again). I’m sure the marketers are cringing, but imagine – it’s like a private conversation and reminder to your core customer that you love them every time they pull your shirt over their head. At a minimum, keep it subtle. Think left sleeve not front chest.

2. Be Cheeky. We did a run of t-shirts for a client called Pulse Energy who specialize in building management energy management software. Instead of a basic logo print on the shirts we printed ‘check my pulse’ on the front with a subtle logo hit on rear nape of the shirt.  Fun, especially when worn by their cute, fit staff.

3. Design first, Logo Second. Consider starting with a cool concept or design first and worry about incorporating your logo later. Here is a great execution of that concept by BC Based coffee roaster Saltspring Coffee. They printed a series of coffee molecules on their travel mugs for the true java junkie – their logo is a subtle link in the ‘chain’.

Pantone Mugs. Lovely. / Flickr elizabeth.graeber

There are very few brands cool enough to get away with just being themselves. Pantone is one of them. The “world’s authority on color”  goes so well with your morning coffee – their mugs get picked first, I’m sure of it. For the rest of us, think about design first, your logo second.

Shanghai’d – Day 4 New Sewing Factory

January 7, 2010

Suggestion box for worker complaints

Day 4 found me at a new bag sewing facility we plan on working with near Shanghai. It’s run by Jorden Rosenberg, a Canadian guy (from Forest Hill Collegiate, like a # of the guys I seem to be meeting here) and it was great to see the Chinese and Canadian flags flying high at the entrance of his facility. I planned my trip to both check out his products and facility and meet the auditor from Openview, who we had arranged to audit the facility.

Jordan runs a great factory and difference between this facility and the one at Huaitai was immediately noticeable. The scale of the operation is much larger but the sophistication of their production processes was of a different standard. In addition to the bag workshop Jordan also runs Motherwear, a women’s maternity wear online retailer (check it out for fabulous bamboo and other products) and manages production for that line in his facility.

The facility was well laid out, with clear signage vis a vis fire safety and first aid. The attention to detail on the quality control front was impressive and they were working for major brands from all over North America and Europe. (more…)

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