Intern Highlight: Nikkie Belindar Singh

Nikkie Belindar Singh PhotoHello, my name is Nikkie. I am a third year student at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a San Francisco native. Sustainability in all its different forms has been an interest of mine since I can remember, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about Fair Trade Los Angeles (FTLA). Soon after UCLA became a Fair Trade University(!!!), I joined FTLA’s campaign that aims to make Los Angeles the largest Fair Trade city in the United States. My primary responsibility is to build relationships with local businesses in order to spread awareness about Fair Trade and recognize those businesses selling Fair Trade Certified products. If a business sells at least two Fair Trade Certified products, we recognize them as part of the LA Fair Trade Town Campaign on the Fair Trade Campaigns website. Benefits from that include free networking and advertising. Look for your favorite businesses and organizations to see if they are participating yet at our campaign website:

Before I started outreach, I was nervous that the information I was trying to convey would not be well-received. I wanted to do justice for FTLA, so I practiced my spiel on family and friends for days before I went out to retail locations. Despite my nerves, every person I spoke to seemed genuinely interested in Fair Trade and it felt so good to be able to spread awareness about it. I also very much enjoyed connecting with my local community about such an important message. I have been pleasantly surprised by how kind people can be. Some people are very well informed about Fair Trade and I have been able to introduce them to our organization and invite them to our meetings. Sometimes, people know nearly nothing about Fair Trade, which gives me the opportunity to educate my community about it and FTLA.


Unreal Candy can be found at Whole Foods.

I began by visiting smaller businesses and was able to connect with owners of the stores or people very involved and knowledgeable about purchasing for the store. The larger stores seemed daunting, but I found that, even at huge chains such as Whole Foods, everyone was very friendly and approachable.

Another highlight of doing outreach has been getting to know brands that support Fair Trade. One of my favorite is Alter Eco, a brand of chocolate I found at EarthBar. The Alter Eco dark salted burnt caramel chocolate bar is something I was drawn to for several reasons. First, I love dark chocolate and I think salted caramel is probably the best flavor on the planet! But mostly, I love the brand. Alter Eco also sells chocolate, sugar, quinoa, and rice, all of which are Fair Trade certified. On their website, they describe their relationship with their farmers as well as the brand’s focus on sustainability as a whole, which is something about which I am really passionate. On the Alter Eco website, you can click on their products and meet the farmers behind the products! The brand is so sustainably aware, which I think is really inspiring.


Atilio Perez, a farmer who makes Alter Eco’s quinoa.

All in all, working with FTLA has been very meaningful to me. Every time I get to explain what Fair Trade is and what FTLA does, it reminds me how important the cause is and how my time can make an impact on a city as large as Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Fair Trade Town campaign is recognizing businesses and organizations within the city of LA that support Fair Trade. If your organization serves or would like to serve a Fair Trade Certified product at meetings, in the office, or at events, let us know! If your business sells or would like to sell at least 2 Fair Trade Certified products, let us know! The campaign can recognize your commitment by listing the organization or business here. You will be connected to consumers and other businesses who support Fair Trade through this free advertising and networking opportunity. Help make Los Angeles a Fair Trade Town! Email the Los Angeles Fair Trade LA Town Campaign Coordinator Michele Rolph here. or visit our website

Help Make Ross Sweatshop Free

Make LA Sweatshop Free

Photo Courtesy Garment Worker Center

Blog post by Pam Michell

Standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the garment industry, on July 2, 2016 the Garment Worker Center led over 80 demonstrators at Figueroa and Vernon for its second action against ROSS Dress for Less. Organizations represented included Fair Trade LA, SEIU, KIWA, ROC LA, IDEPSCA, UFCW 770, Fight for Fifteen, and Students for a Brand New City. Our friends with the LA Sherriff’s Department came by ensuring peaceful protest, but ROSS personnel refused to accept the workers’ letter of demands, instructing Mar. Martinez, Organizing Coordinator with the Garment Worker Center, to address her concerns with the Public Relations Department.

Los Angeles workers producing for ROSS are paid per piece in unsafe, unhealthy factories. Ross needs to be held accountable for sweatshop conditions and low wages in LA factories. The US Department of Labor issued a consent judgment against 13 Los Angeles area supplier factories, four within the 90011 zip code. (Case No. CV 16-217-R-PJW). Although ROSS subcontractor, YN Apparel, has complied with the decree in terms of settling the wage theft of $212,000, neither practices nor conditions have improved.

Ms. Martinez, explained that immigrants frequently don’t understand how Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to or protects them. With no breaks, overtime, holiday or sick pay, the workers’ piece rate equates to five to six dollars an hour.

SHOW your support of the LA Garment Worker Center, demanding ROSS ends wage theft in their factories and commit to make LA sweatshop FREE. Demand ROSS meet with the Garment Worker Center to negotiate a sweat shop free plan ASAP. Learn more here.

Ms. Martinez stressed that at this time we are not calling for a ROSS boycott, however through legal demonstration bringing awareness to the issue, fairness is on the horizon. Sign on to demand ROSS end its wage theft practices here.

Thank you for caring to take action for change. Stay safe and blessed friends.