But the founder of Fair Trade fashion website Bobelle is quick to point out that Fair Trade doesn’t mean frumpy nor does it mean expensive. “I saw there was a gap in the market for high-quality goods that were still realistically affordable,” she says.
“I’m trying to show that Fair Trade isn’t just ill-fitting cotton. We’ve got an event in London coming up that’s showing you can get high-quality, uniquely designed fashion accessories for work. It’s Fair Trade for the business woman. We’ll have organically grown cotton, fitted shirts and suits, hand-made shoes, handbags and we won’t be charging £600 each for them.”
Watt-Smith funded the venture with her own cash, initially spending £1,500 to build the website and buy the first lot of stock. She only sells online and works from home to keep costs down. It also helps that she has close links with her suppliers as that means she rarely has to buy in bulk. Watt-Smith adds: “Two of my suppliers are in Oxford, as am I. I can just go along and pick up the items myself, saving on postage and carriage.”
She’s convinced the market for Fair Trade and environmentally friendly clothing and accessories will continue to grow. "It’s becoming more and more apparent that the pesticides used for regular cotton are harming so many peple. From a conscience point of view, we have to change the ways in whch we purchase," she argues.
“I also think that the shopper is getting bored now and they’re looking elsewhere for designers that are just a little bit different from the High Street."