A new series profiling Fair Trade and Ethical brands at AGHA Melbourne Gift Fair. 

Consumer interest in Fair Trade and ethically sourced products continues to rise and is now stronger than ever before. The AGHA Melbourne Gift Fair offers a cohort of exhibitors with uniquely individual and ethical brands, all crafted by artisans from across the globe. 

Each brand comes with a story. Here we Meet The Maker...Diana Akkerman of Koguis

How many years have you been operating and can you briefly describe your business? 

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"My husband Justin and I created Koguis back in 2010, offering jewellery and Fair Trade handicrafts from my birthplace Colombia. We wanted to share the richness of Colombia's traditional techniques and indigenous cultural inheritance, which is often overshadowed by negative news."

Tell us about the artisans behind your products. How did you get started working with them? 

"It's very important to us to support the artisans creating unique products with their hands. This work attaches a uniqueness that is never achieved through mass production. Indigenous communities have been passing their knowledge for centuries. This is a real gift to the modern world we can see and help preserve their identity."

Why is Fair Trade certification important to you and how does your business implement these processes? 

"The Koguis team deals directly with the makers behind our products, ensuring they receive their set fair price for each one of their products, with a guarantee of no exploitation and no middlemen taking a cut in between. It is very important to turn our eyes with compassion and support the people less privileged than ourselves. We are able to proudly say our products help to connect and support these communities. It's called social responsibility and it matters to all of us."

What are the most popular design trends you have seen emerging in your field? 

"Handwoven natural fibres are almost part of all indigenous cultures and the results are absolutely pieces of art. With our background in fashion design, we work with their creations to be adapted to the local market. As a result Koguis is able to offer our customers in Australia unique pieces. Our Tagua Nut jewellery collection comes in brighter colour palettes and is both popular and beautiful. The nut is from the Equatorial rainforest and native only to South America."

Which pieces would you recommend to buyers looking for their next best-seller? 

"We would highly recommend our buyers to look for handwoven summer hats and handbags or to add our Zenu or Tagua jewellery ranges to their shelves. Also our leather Kuna Collection is made from handstitched indigenous appliques. They are beautifully used in footwear, handbags, purses and much more. Our customers would not be only buying unique products but supporting the artisans themselves."

Register now to see Koguis in the Eureka Room at Stand E47, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, 4-8 August 2018.