Oxfam Australia has joined up with Australia’s ethically sustainable chef, restauranteur, author and television personality, Kylie Kwong to create and produce her first signature tableware range to raise awareness of fair trade and assist producers in developing countries.
Oxfam, who works with more than 60 fair trade producer groups in around 30 countries, believed Kylie, who is an Ambassador for the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand, would be a perfect fit for the project.
“When Oxfam approached me to consider designing a range of kitchenware, I realised this was a project which could bring together my passion for cooking, love of art, and advocacy for a better deal for producers in developing countries” said Ms Kwong.
The idea quickly moved on to Kylie creating the first design scheme for the range. She drew upon her graphic background to create the “Lotus” designed range, which comprises of soup and rice bowls with matching plates and spoons as well as a teapot, teacup and coffee cup.
In March 2011, Kylie also travelled to Vietnam with Oxfam (see below) to meet the producers in person, finalise the designs and see firsthand how the fair trade system is working, including the benefits these workers receive under this project.
Oxfam Australia’s Director of Trading Nadine Silverberg, who initiated the Lotus project, said Ms Kwong’s involvement would make a huge difference to the producers Oxfam works with in Vietnam and more broadly.
“Not only will the artisans crafting Kylie’s first-ever product range receive fair wages and working conditions, proceeds from the sale of these products will support Oxfam’s work with communities in developing countries,” Ms Silverberg said.
“Kylie’s support is also playing an important role in raising the profile of fair trade in Australia more generally, which is likely to increase demand for fair trade products and, in turn, further benefit the fair trade groups Oxfam works with worldwide.”
Whilst the line will only be available to purchase next month, MasterChef viewers may recognise some items from the recent episode featuring Kylie and the Dalai Lama, for which Oxfam supplied advanced samples of Kylie’s range specifically for the episode.
The range is hand-crafted and hand-painted in Vietnam by Oxfam’s fair trade producer partner Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts. Mai, founded in 1990 to support Vietnamese street children, now employs the mothers and older sisters of these children and most of its employees are women. Workers receive decent wages and training in areas such as quality control, marketing and export procedures.
The Lotus range will be available from Oxfam’s retail shops and www.oxfamshop.org.au from 1 October.
Watch some on Kylie’s visit to Vietnam here: