Supplier case studies
Fifi Bijoux - luxury ethical jewellery
Name: Vivien Johnston
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business
I launched Fifi Bijoux in 2006. I wanted to offer people a jewellery product with knowledge of provenance of the gold and precious stones and to source these from fair trade small scale artisanal mines.
The environmental impact of mining was also important to me. I feel that the most sustainable solution to extreme poverty which is suffered by the artisanal miners is to manage the land without the use of chemicals and to regenerate mined land by replacing topsoil and promoting re-growth of indigenous plants and trees. This in turn allows for organic farming to take place for example; which along with the fair trade premium paid for the gold or gems offers the community real financial benefits, as well as respecting their activities and the land.
What or who inspires you?
Annie Lennox is someone who I admire very much for the work she's carried out for HIV orphans in Africa - something Fifi Bijoux is also passionate about. I met her recently and she was absolutely charming. She also gave her support and encouragement to the ‘From Little Acorns' project we've launched which sponsors HIV orphans in the mining communities in Uganda.
I'm also inspired by Margeret Tuhumwire, the director if the Entebbe Women's Association there. She is doing remarkable work on very limited resources.
What do you enjoy most about running your business?
I love meeting clients and working with them to create a design just for them. The engagement and wedding ring design service is there to make sure that each couple gets their perfect ring, within their budget.
Most of my clients have stayed in touch long after the wedding; it's lovely to hear about new babies or their plans for the future! To have played a little part in the romance of surprise proposals and wedding days is a real treat!
What is the most challenging aspect?
My supply chain was difficult to create initially. And I work 14 hour days. I get the jitters the day I know someone is being proposed to and it's a surprise! But as soon as I get the call ‘SHE SAID YES!' I have a glass of champagne and go about grinning for the next 3 days...
What do you feel you bring to an ethical wedding?
I bring the ethical rings! They play such a key part in the ceremony. They are worn every day for the rest of your life as a reminder of the love and commitment and of vows you made to each other on that day.
How do you see the wedding industry changing over the next five years (if at all)?
I think it's becoming less about ‘showmanship' and more personal to the couples. It's a chance to express your own values and I think that's why the ethical wedding idea is one which is gaining such popularity.
Find out more about Fifi Bijoux - ethical jewellery