The True Costs Interview with Safia Minney Founder & CEO, People Tree

With The True Cost screening aired at our Autumn Winter Launch soon, we thought we would take a look at The True Costs Blog which is a mine of information and interviews with some of the leading lights in Fair Trade and Ethical Fashion. It is in fact a fantastic recourse and a good read! (

True Cost LOGO

The True Cost Documentary (12A) is directed by Dir. Andrew Morgan, and will be shown at The AIRR Clothing Autumn Season Launch, as mentioned above on Saturday September 19th, 7:30pm, this will be during the Wirksworth Festival at The Northern Light Cinema … and you’re invited! The evening will include an exclusive private viewing of AIRR’s new Autumn/Winter collections with style advice for the season ahead. Complimentary nibbles and a welcome drinks will be followed by an introduction from store owner Ayesha Bell, before the award winning documentary highlighting the “goings on” in the world of fashion. Safia Minney is founder and CEO of People Tree, a Fair Trade fashion label and online retailer.  She initiated World Fair Trade Day over ten years ago, and sees people and the planet central to everything they do as a business. Safia is featured in The True Cost. Here is an edited sample of her interview from The True Cost’s blog. To see the full blog visit


Tell me about your company, People Tree. People Tree’s DNA is rooted in campaigning for a better trading system that delivers human rights and environmental innovation in production. We are a 100% Fair Trade certified business and the first clothing company in the world to guarantee Fair Trade and environmental production practice throughout the supply chain. We started the first Fair Trade and organic cotton supply chain nearly 20 years ago and are the first company to have certified clothing made in the developing world. We are deeply committed to empowering the poor, protecting the environment and changing the kind of world we live in.

What led you to start the company?

“I believe the secrets of sustainability and well-being in society lie with the farmers and workers in the developing world – with the people”

I started People Tree in Japan in 1991. I’m an ‘ethical consumer’ and have always been, even at 20! I didn’t want to spend my money and support big business that exploits people and the environment. I think trade and business can be used for good. I was recognized in 2005 as one of the world’s outstanding Social Entrepreneurs by the World Economic Forum, before I knew what one was! I believe in a hybrid of business and charity to deliver financial, social and environmental benefits. Good business and economic practice can pull people out of poverty, innovate and generate new environmentally benign production methods and supply chains. I knew that increased customer awareness and action could transform our bankrupt, unsustainable economic system into a restorative economy. Secondly, I started it because of a belief in democracy. I believe the secrets of sustainability and well-being in society lie with the farmers and workers in the developing world – with the people – not in the ivory towers of big corporations and the establishment who are dangerously out of touch.

The Swallows: One of People Tree's many producers. Why do you think the clothing industry is so crucial to the future wellbeing of our world? Clothing is fashion. Fashion is linked to culture and music and arts. Fast fashion has led this rapidly downhill. Fair Trade and sustainable fashion can empower the poor, be about social and environmental justice, and transform our economy and societal well- being. Fashion as we know it must stop.

You graciously invited us to follow you around the world with our cameras. As we approach the release, what is your hope for the impact of this film? I hope that the film is more than just a foot in the door, but that it strides over a fashion industry and economic system that is about to pop. That it inspires and motivates people to care about each other and our irreplaceable earth. (This is one battle we need to win for the sake of humanity!)   – See more at:

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