Ramona fashions fair deal and jobs for leprosy colony women

A new range of goods launched by a growing Staffordshire company is helping create jobs for a group of weaver women in an Indian leprosy colony.

Little Trove, an on-line fair trade luxury goods and homeware business, has taken delivery of an exclusive range of cotton bags.

The bags were developed by Little Trove’s owner Ramona Hirschi after she met the cotton weavers during a research visit to India.

Ramona heard about skilled weavers living in a leprosy colony in India and was determined to meet them to start an income generating project

“Last autumn, a Little Trove volunteer and I went to visit the colony and stayed for several days,” said Ramona.

“I must admit I found conditions to be harsh. It was 35 degrees, there was no electricity during the day and 11 of us shared the one bathroom out the back. In those conditions, I had to forget about contact lenses, hair straighteners, make up and my mobile phone!.

“However, I was welcomed into their homes with utmost generosity and treated like a Queen.

“Their passion and traditional weaving skills shone through but I worked with them on Western design ideas and how to develop a finished product acceptable to a savvy Western consumer

“I was pleased to be able to place orders for a range of cotton bags. The designs are exclusively available from Little Trove and the work we are providing is giving employment to eight women. We hope the bags will be successful so that we can increase our orders and create more jobs for the families living at the colony”

“I have a strong belief in international trade as a wealth generator for disadvantaged producer groups and am proud to say Little Trove is helping in a small way.”

Little Trove is the UK’s only direct selling company which specialises in fair trade.  The business runs on a party plan model where consultants across the country arrange events in potential customers’ homes.

The company has 35 consultants  across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and with the recent appointment of a Business Development Manager is confident of doubling numbers year on year.

The company is based at Brampton Sidings, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Ramona founded Little Trove following a high flying legal career. She has previously worked as a humanitarian lawyer for the United Nations and in commercial litigation.

Ramona, now 36, moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme from Geneva when her husband Raphael, an astrophysicist, took up a research fellowship at Keele University.

After securing a place with a major Stoke-on-Trent practice, Ramona seemed set for a career in commercial litigation. But a thirst to run her own business, coupled with a need to bring more balance to her whirlwind life as a working mum, led Ramona to set up her own business.

“The world of litigation was very exciting and I did enjoy it but it was not conducive to family life”

“I sat down one day with a piece of paper and charted a course for where I wanted my life to be when I turned 50 and having considered all aspects, realised that my life needed a course correction in order to live a truly fulfilled life.” Ramona explained.

“I took my work and life experience and decided to create a job that would give me satisfaction and   quality time with the family”

“At the same time, I wanted to ensure the business I set up was ethical and capable of creating opportunities for others, which pulled me towards the promotion of fair trade products.”

“Little Trove allows me to run a business that helps sustain families in developing countries and provides a pathway into work in the UK.”

Ramona was born in Malaysia where her mother was a banker and her father a civil engineer.

When she was 17, Ramona won a scholarship to Padworth College, Berkshire, to study A-levels. She went on to study law at Nottingham University where she met her future husband,

She returned to Malaysia to practise law in Kuala Lumpur before marrying Raphael, a Swiss national, in 2002 and moving to Geneva where she worked at the UN on Palestinian claims for compensation for losses suffered during the illegal occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990, the first Gulf War.


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