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FIELDTESTED | DOMINIQUE FURUKAWA, FOUNDER OF LET’S BE FAIR

Dominique Furukawa is the founder and blogger at Let’s Be Fair – a lifestyle and beauty blog focusing on ethically soured, fairly traded and life impacting purchases. She speaks to us about what drives her and and what the journey has been like so far. 

Let’s Be Fair is all about ethical consumption. How do you define ethical consumption, and what do you think it would take for it to go mainstream?

Such a good question! The first question I ask about whether or not something is ethical is “are people being treated with respect?” This can be a hard question to know the answer too. 

Personally, I need to hear that companies:

  • Know where their products are coming from
  • Know who is making the product
  • Put forth reasonable effort to make sure that the people involved in the sourcing and making those products are being treated with respect and being paid fairly.

After that question I look for key words such as B Certified, Direct Trade, Fair Trade Certified and Made In The USA. These distinctions don’t make them perfect but there is at least some sort of accountability and effort to doing things ethically.The companies that get my attention the most are companies that are fully invested into the lives of their workers and their communities. There are so many incredible, hardworking artisans around the world and they don’t need a handout. They need a market! Brands that help artisans get the resources they need to run their business and then help them establish a sustainable market in which to sell those items are a major win with me.

I think ultimately it’s on us as consumers to see Thoughtful become mainstream. We’ve got to put our money where our mouth is and ask for new options. And when I say “ask” I mean it literally. Ask your grocery store and favourite retailer for ethically sourced items. They listen!  I also think ( a little bit of a soapbox here) that ethical brands need to step up their customer service. I’ve had some REALLY bad customer service experiences with thoughtful brands that I never had with conventional brands.  If I wasn’t sold on this movement, I’d be done with it because of these negative experiences.

What has been a catalyst for change in your personal journey so far?

My desire to be a woman of integrity is very motivating to me. Integrity happens when we align all of our choices with the values that we advertise. So if I say I value honesty, I need to strive be honest in all things, not just the easy things. If I say I value justice and love, I need to strive to live out those values in all things. So serving children in Africa is an act of love but it is not greater than serving my neighbor. Integrity doesn’t categorize, our values should be reflected across our whole lifestyle. So if I give money and time to the work of eradicating slavery, how can I then purchase products that promote slave labor and abuse? 

I also am motivated by my passion for orphan care and ending human trafficking. Poverty is a major contributor to the global orphan and human trafficking crisis. It is also, in many ways, preventable. I believe that treating people fairly, not with ‘charity’ but simply fairly, gives families and communities more resources and more of an ability to care for the children in their communities the way they’d hope to care for them.  Finally, my husband is a major source of motivation. He’s a man of integrity. He’ll totally challenge my impulse buying and ask “oh, is there not a place we can find that ethically?” I love him for that. This is a hard lifestyle change to make without accountability.

How do you keep motivated amidst the seeminly mega-negative impact of the global fashion industry?

I actually try to not focus on the negative impact of the fashion industry (which is truly SOOOO negative to people and our planet) but rather I focus on the good that comes from shopping ethically. I feel it’s important to talk about things like Rana Plaza and labor abuse so we are aware. However, the majority of my blog focuses on the positives that come from thoughtful consumption. That was the heart behind our recent Behind The Brand series. These little changes make such a huge impact in the lives of people! Their stories are what keep my focused when I get bummed out by the enormous changes that still need to happen.

What is your advice for those who want to adopt ethical choices but find it inconvenient? 

Most things worth having are inconvenient and difficult! Relationships, children, a career you are passionate about, healthy eating. These things require more work to have them but  they’re totally worth it. I have also found that over time my life is more convenient because I have less clutter and less pressure to consume. Going to a wedding used to mean new shoes, new dress, blowing my budget, worrying about my figure, finding time to shop etc. Now going to a wedding means putting on my “wedding dress” ( I have about three go-to options) and focusing more on the celebration of people that I love. Not only is it more convenient, it brings more peace. You also don’t have to be an ‘ethically sourced’ martyr. If I NEED something and can’t find it ethically I try to show myself grace and just know that this journey isn’t about rules, it’s about integrity. My advice would be to go slow and create new patterns in your life that help you reach your goals. For example, I can’t afford to shop at Whole Foods for everything but I do have a routine of going to Whole Foods about every other week when I’m on that side of town to buy things like fair trade tea, coffee and bananas. It’s a part of my routine and my budget now. Give yourself a few non-negotiables (I am ONLY going to purchase fair trade chocolate) and grow from there.

What’s the first thing you do every day? 

Drink a ton of water! I have a water bottle on my nightstand and I drink the whole thing before I even get out of bed. After that, I do my best to create time in the morning to sit long enough to have a cup of coffee and pray.  I love the stillness and mornings that start that way are usually the best days for me.

How do you think your blog will change the world? 

I’m not sure. But I know it’s changing me.

We are inspired by Dominique’s vision of ethical consumption and keeping things real, and are proud to have her as Fieldtester, a group of inspiring friends that regularly test MATTER products in their workplace and travels to help us improve durability and design. Dominique is wearing The Easy Dhoti + Chambray Olive, Size 1.