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fairandfunky write for International Womens Day

Earlier this year, fairandfunky was asked by Social Progress to write a story for International Womens Day. The brief was to write about a woman who had inspired us and why. These are our stories.


Helen wrote about an inspirational and visionary woman called Monica Norley.


“Monica Norley is the founder of the leading Fairtrade body care company Visionary Soap and is, for me, a leading light in all things ethical. Every part of her business, every action she takes, is steeped in what is fair. What is fair for the producers farming the raw materials, what is fair for the manufacturers making the product, what is fair for the people buying the product and what is fair for ALL the people in between.


Monica goes over and above what is necessary at every turn. Every step she takes in her decisions is for a positive impact on people and the planet. And she is making a real difference to the lives of producers and to community organisations in the UK in the process.


I was lucky enough to meet Monica during Fairtrade Fortnight 2011 when she came to speak at an event I had organised. Again, testament to Monica’s commitment to all things fair she travelled from Brighton to speak to a small group of committed Fairtrade individuals in Holmfirth. I invited Monica for dinner and was delighted to play host to an incredible, visionary and inspirational woman who has never let go of her strong ethical principles and beliefs despite the challenges life has thrown her way.


I too, strive to be fair in all I do. Knowing Monica, knowing her success, is one of the things that motivates me to make a success of my new business with my friend Sophie Bebb: fairandfunky. Empowering people to take little steps to change the world.


Monica inspires me to do just that and I hope I inspire others to do so too.”


Sophie wrote about her business partner, Helen Robinson.


“My story is about a superhero. She is like superman, in that you wouldn’t know she is going to change the world just by passing her in the street, but once she does her stuff you know that she is going to make a massive difference to how the world works.


Helen Robinson is my superhero, and the woman who has inspired and empowered me over the short period of 2 years.


When I met Helen I had just stumbled out of an Art Degree, not really knowing what to do with it or with my life ahead. I was despairing a little at where life was going to take me, and got a “just-for-now” job at The Fair Traders Co-operative in Holmfirth. This is where I met Helen who was buying and shop manager at the time. She was also a Director at The Fair Traders Co-operative, a Guide leader, a Fairtrade Support Group member, and on top of all this managed a house of 3 young children.


Over the course of our time working together we became very good friends. From the day I met Helen she was rabbiting on at me about how the Fairtrade movement could change the world, and how she was going to make it happen. When I have this discussion with people I know their reaction is something along the lines of “Yeah, OK, of COURSE you are….Good luck with that one!” But when Helen told me that she was going to change the world, I believed her from the word go, and I believed I could too.


During our friendship Helen has empowered me to achieve things I never thought I was strong enough to tackle. I have been on the Board of Directors at The Fair Traders Co-operative. I am currently on the National Youth Board for Oxfam GB, where I was given the chance to present to the Board of Trustees there (something I would never have had the guts to do straight out of university). I have helped to set up an Oxfam Support Group in the Holme Valley, and a Fairtrade Support Group in the Colne Valley. All this in the short space of 2 years, because Helen has taught me that even though I am 1 person I can make a difference, and even if that difference is small to me, it can change the lives of someone at the other side of the world, and that is what is worth fighting for.


Helen and I have now become business partners, and have set up our own business together called fairandfunky (again, I had never even DREAMED of running my very own organisation 2 years ago). It’s mission is to “empower people to take little steps to change the world”, which is exactly what Helen achieved with me, and which I want to pass on so that others can grow in the great way that I have, to benefit those less privileged across the globe.


I am lucky to know Helen Robinson, and I realise this every day. She acts as though what she does makes a difference, and it does. She always demands what is right, and never takes second best. She never gives up, and she is one of the strongest people I have ever met. The world is already benefitting from having my inspirational woman in it, and she has barely even got started yet…”

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