Only Just was founded in 2009. It was one of many results from the Fair Trade Nillumbik Project (FTNP). In 2007 a couple of local residents created the FTNP. The aim was to raise awareness about Fair Trade and ask the Nillumbik council to become a Fair Trade council. Just as the FTNP was set to present their findings to council the Black Saturday Bush fires swept through our local region. The group decided to let the council deal with the aftermath of the fires and let the project drop.
The Fair Trade Nillumbik Project
The FTNP became the catalyst for a number of things. As a result of that project many churches, community groups and schools became Fair Trade communities and continue to do so now. One of the members of the project took the idea to her workplace at La Trobe University and, due to her efforts, La Trobe became a Fair Trade University. So the ripple effect from that project has been fruitful.
Only Just came about as a result of the FTNP. The project clearly resonated with the people of Nillumbik/Banyule but there was a gap in the market. People said that they wanted to support Fair Trade but they didn’t have a local option for buying handicrafts and gifts. Back in 2009 there weren’t many online options and the closest Fair Trade shops were in the city; so Donna Parker, her husband Jon, and their two friends Rebecca and Mike decided to take a leap of faith and start up Only Just. The name Only Just was chosen because they wanted to sell only ‘just’ products.
Community-driven and Not-for-profit
From the beginning the intention was for Only Just to be a community driven project. As a result, volunteers were called for, who could, in turn, invest as much or as little as they wanted into Only Just.
Only Just is a registered not-for-profit organisation run by a board of passionate and skilled people. It has now been operating for over 9 years in the north eastern suburbs of Melbourne. From the start of operation and thanks to the ongoing support of Southern Cross Community Church for the use of the shop in Montmorency, Only Just donated over $55,000 back into aid and development projects through TEAR Australia and funded several thousand dollars’ worth of micro credit loans through KIVA. The remainder of the profits enabled the opening of a larger shop in Eltham in late 2015, which in turn allows Only Just to increase the stock we buy from our partners and support more producer groups from around the developing world.
Only Just Today
Only Just sells products from over 30 developing countries as well as products benefitting indigenous Australian communities. They provide us with all the beautifully designed gifts in our store. They do amazing work and support some of the most disenfranchised communities in the world: leprosy victims, women who have been trafficked, survivors of exploded landmines and polio, and more. Our partners pay their employees a fair wage but they provide so much more: medical assistance, counselling, education subsidies, micro credit loans, investment in clean water initiatives, the list goes on.
Fair Trade is more than just fair wages.
Only Just's Eltham shop is mainly staffed by volunteers from our local communities, who are passionate about Fair Trade and share a love for our hand-crafted items, the people who make them and the stories that surround them. If you would like to contribute to Only Just's story, you can apply to volunteer or contact us for more information.
Oxfam has said that, for every dollar spent on aid, $2 is lost in trade due to unfair global trade rules; rules that benefit wealthy nations and drive poorer nations deeper into poverty. Fair Trade simply makes sense. When you pay someone adequately they can stay in their own country, they can feed and clothe their family and educate their children. These simple measures break the grinding cycle of poverty.
Learn more about the people behind the beautiful creations in our shops by browsing our Producers section. We source products from over 25 developing countries around the globe. Our artisan partners are skilled in traditional crafts and produce high quality items through sustainable and ethical practices.
Kenana Knitters - Kenya
Kenana Knitters hopes to share the stories of rural Kenyan women through their unique, hand-knitted creations.
Kenana Knitters is a grassroots business that was founded in 1998 by local Kenyan, Patricia Nightingale.
Patricia wanted to assist a group of individuals who were lacking a market for their homespun wool. With clever consideration, she helped transform their yarn into unique creations with her distinctive designs, including plush toys, home décor, clothing and accessories.
With a vision to further impact the community, Kenana Knitters taught women in the area to knit beautiful, organic products using local, sustainable resources. By providing a safe, family-friendly working environment, Kenana Knitters empowers women, offering them a chance to work and take charge of their lives, with pride and dignity.
Tintsaba - Eswatini
With a passion for excellence and respect for the earth, the remarkable women of Tintsaba create beautiful hand-made products centered around the use of Sisal, a sustainable natural weed that grows wild in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).
Sheila Freemantle created Tintsaba in 1985 with the purpose of improving the lives of rural women. 12 women were in the initial start-up group and, since then, over 900 Women in Eswatini have contributed to Tintsaba’s growth. Tintsaba provides the environment and the training that enables the women to become Master Weavers, Silversmiths or Managers.
Like most Fair Trade groups, however, Tintsaba is not just about skills training. In addition to a good wage and good working conditions, Tintsaba provides other vital social programs that empower the women:
- HIV/AIDS awareness workshops
- A mobile health clinic
- A literacy program
- Opportunities to gain skills in other areas of expertise such as driving, accounting and design
- Opportunities to advance within the company
All current management staff started working in Tintsaba as shop assistants. Income generating opportunities such as the work, training and skills provided by Tintsaba put women in charge of their own lives. Tintsaba also runs environmental programs and use sustainable natural local fibres and environmentally safe dyes. All the jewellery is nickel-free.