This week, Yorkshire-based candle making entrepreneur Hannah Chapman, Founder of Ava May Aromas, and her business partner, Nicky Story, Founder of Supplies for Candles, are excited to announce that they have become industry trailblazers by launching the first Fairtrade certified home fragrance products in the UK. To celebrate this, they will be shining a light on the coconut oil producers who they work with in Sri Lanka to help the consumer see just how much difference Fairtrade makes to the lives of those at the beginning of the supply chain.
The Fairtrade Cane Sugar, sourced from Mauritius, is a component used in the Ava Mayfair reed diffuser and liquid blends. The Coconut Oil sourced from Sri Lanka is the Fairtrade component within the wax blend. Hannah Chapman, Founder of Ava May Aromas said; “Both of these ingredients are key parts to our home fragrance range, and have allowed us to begin the step toward a fairer supply chain through Fairtrade certification. We hope to continue to add more Fairtrade elements to our products over time.”
As Ava Mayfair rolls out worldwide, Hannah, who has a social media reach of over 236K followers, and has support from many influencers including; Mario McKnight and Mrs Hinch, is preparing to share the producers’ stories with her audience.
This comes after two years of product development and personal experiences, which saw the duo’s values around sustainable business really come to life, as they looked for ways to stand with farmers for fairness, equality, and sustainability. Having visited the factory, farmers and their families in Sri Lanka earlier this year to get firsthand experience of what the supply chain from field all the way through to product really looks like, Hannah and Nicky further strengthened their bonds with the Sri Lanka Fair Cocos Farmer Association & Nadalagamuwa Farmer Association. Both have Fairtrade initiatives run by the Fairtrade Farmers Association including the supply of agricultural machinery and equipment, coconut cultivating, milk production, road building and maintenance for easier schools’ access, school rebuilding renovations, food supplies, health funding, and safe water installations. Seeing the impact their supply chain is having on the lives of others brought Fairtrade to life for the two entrepreneurs, and as part of their launch they are keen to celebrate the lives and contributions of the farmers that support them.
Nicky explains: “We were very lucky to be able to take time to travel around Sri Lanka alongside visiting the factories and truly get to see the beauty of this country. The people were incredibly friendly and welcoming, which had a real impact on us. Many were very forthcoming in sharing how difficult it can be to make a living, having experienced huge difficulty in the past few years. Covid caused a huge drop in tourism, which employs a huge amount of the population. Plus, the riots and civil unrest over the past couple of years have scared tourists away too, which is such a shame as we felt so safe whilst traveling around. It just heightened our desire to stand with Sri Lanka and its people further.”
Hannah said: “Seeing the impact of making better Fairtrade choices, in real life, really hit home about how important this approach is. Yes, we wanted to ‘do our bit’ by being more sustainable – but what does that really mean? By visiting Sri Lanka, we were able to see exactly what it means, and it’s unequivocally life changing. We want to help our customers get to the heart of Fairtrade and what it really does and so look forward to showcasing the farmers and their work, so we can move forward, as a society, from seeing Fairtrade as just a logo, and start to understand the lives it impacts”.
Hannah continues; “Nick and I have also made a promise to continue to help some of the causes that touched our hearts whilst we were in Sri Lanka. We are currently donating £1 from every sale of our popular disc in the fragrance Champagne, Passionfruit and Vanilla to three causes that have touched us; The Elephant Freedom Project, Supporting Thalinis Business, and Lords Street Dogs.”
As many businesses are winding back their sustainability commitments due to the global cost of living crisis, Ava May Aromas, whose factory recently relocated from Hampshire to Mexborough, Yorkshire, is instead choosing to continue to invest in building the brand through this exciting new chapter as they introduced Ava Mayfair, a newly named arm of the business, rolling out the new Fairtrade certified home fragrance products.
Hannah said; “Fairtrade is the gold standard and we are so thrilled to be the first in the UK to bring our new home fragrance products to market with the certified FAIRTRADE Mark. As a business who uses cane sugar and coconut oil, we wanted to make every effort to source these commodities sustainably. This certificate shows our loyal customers that we are taking the steps and doing what we can as a business for a fairer and more sustainable planet.”
Hannah initially started Ava May as a hobby in her parents’ kitchen back in July 2018, to supplement her full-time job at a social media agency, but within a couple of months, she was able to quit her corporate job to begin her entrepreneurial endeavor full time. Ava May Aromas continued to grow, turning over £2.2m in 2020, which increased to £3m in 2021. In 2022, the company amalgamated within a larger company Supplies for Candles, as they continue to grow and reach a larger audience with their new Fairtrade certified Ava Mayfair products, something that both Hannah and Nicky have been working on for a couple of years.
Nicky Story, Founder of Supplies for Candles explains; “For us, working with Fairtrade to certify our products wasn’t about sales or “greenwashing”, it’s about taking the steps on a journey towards a fairer world. Playing our part in trying to ensure we are working towards fair pay, decent working conditions, the end of child labour, climate resilience and other goals. As business owners, who purchase supplies from across the world, this was something both Hannah and I are personally passionate about. For us, choosing Fairtrade means standing with farmers for fairness, equality, and sustainability.”
Hannah adds; “Certifying our product ingredients was never the end goal, if anything it’s just the beginning, as we trailblaze and set the example within our industry and take continuous action to address human rights and environmental challenges in our supply chains.”
Fairtrade is about fairer purchasing practices and more decent working conditions. It’s about working towards the living income that farmers deserve for their hard work.
Kerrina Thorogood, Partnerships Director at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “We’re delighted to see Ava Mayfair launch the UK’s first Fairtrade certified home fragrance products in the UK. It’s an incredibly exciting addition to the broad range of Fairtrade products – over 6,000 – now available to buy in the UK.
“Navigating the deep-rooted problems in global supply chains remains complex, with poverty and child labour rising for the first time in two decades. It is every business and corporation’s responsibility to undergo due diligence on their human rights and environmental impacts – this launch by Ava Mayfair shows that they are committed to working with Fairtrade at each step of the due diligence process, to learn from our expertise and guidance on the most important human rights risks.
Kerrina continued: “By sourcing their ingredients on Fairtrade terms, Ava Mayfair will support coconut and sugar cane farmers and workers in Sri Lanka and Mauritius, who are disadvantaged by global trade, receive a fairer price for their goods and the tools they need to farm in a way that is better for people and the planet. We encourage all consumers, when you shop, look for the FAIRTRADE Mark, which you will now find on the Ava Mayfair range.”