March 26 2015

Behind the Scenes with Monica

As we so often bombard you with details about the Fairtrade gold and the miners, today we are going behind the scenes to discover one of the gems in the centre of Cred. 

We tell you about the relationship Cred has with the miners, but without this Spaniard, Monica, we wouldn't be doing half as well at keeping in touch. If you've met her in our Chichester boutique, you won't forget her infectious smile, her depth of knowledge of the jewellery and it's story... and she has a knack of knowing what jewellery is perfect for you.

Monica calls up the miners at least once a fortnight. She says it's all business, but to be honest, we think it's just for a good chinwag. This how we hear about what is going on in the mine, in the community and how they spend their Fairtrade Premium. These 'catch-ups' helps us to resolve any issues quickly, and to get to know how we work better. Here's Monica to tell you more about what she does, in her own words:

"I'm the main link between Sotrami and Cred. Over the years we have grown closely, due to meeting in person here in the UK for several different events, such as the launch of Fairtrade Gold in 2011 and in 2013 for the launch of the new standard of Fairtrade Gold. My relationship with them has develop over the years till the point where it is quite relax and open from both sides and we feel we work towards the same goals; making Fairtrade mainstream in the European market .

I speak with Sotrami office every other week, but when a shipment is coming into the country, most days to coordinate everything. I also speak with the rest of the miners every other month for a catch up about general stuff. Miners do not know and speak with many people here in Europe so majority of the information gets filter through me because of the language. Sharing the same culture helps toward building trust and that trust has grown from both parts by talking to them on a regular bases, not only when we are interested in buying gold. We really care about the input of the premium in the local community so I will speak about it quite a lot and receive the information about how they spend the premium and future plans.

Obviously we now also talk about personal stuff as family, work, kids!!!!!  We have been talking for several years and meet in person so we like to just talk. They are great bunch of people and I truly enjoy my talks with them and their company. 

Since 2011 when Fairtrade gold was launch I have seen a huge difference in Santa Filomena in comparison to near by villages who are not certified. When we first started to work together with them, they only had electricity & water supply for few hours a day , the houses and streets do not have any drainage, they have no access to internet, not bin collection, etc...

In the last couple of years I personally have seen a tremendous impact of the premium in the villages as a sport center being built, 24 hours electricity and water supply, drainage facilities being built, a signal reception antena has been install, an ambulance services, dental care, new extension of the medical centre, students grants for secondary and university fess , emergency benefits system used for illnesses, housing, widows pensions.... the quality of life that has improve for everyone who is there.

It is not easy not an easy life to be in a mine community, their lives are always at risk as once a miner told me "every time I go in the mine I don't know if i will see my kids ever again"  He was only there because he needs work and he wanted to give his kids a better future and by being a miner he could earn enough money for his kids education.  

It is hard when you speak with them not feel guilty about how lucky  I am of what I have. It make me appreciate everything more, including my work! When I have sale meeting with customer who is looking for wedding ring  I can share the life's of the miners with them. I know from end to end where the gold goes through. Miners, refiners, workshop, customers. It is brilliant. There are not many people in the Jewellery industry who are able to say the same.

My favourite memory with them is when they visited the UK back in 2013 for the new launch of Fairtrade Gold standard and I went out with them as a tourist because I know how impressive and diverse London is and I loved the genuine enjoyment of the visit because they wanted to also have a bit of fun and it was not much opportunity for them during the meetings with the rest of the trade so I make sure we went out together and not worry about work stuff. I asked Alan to also to take them out and get a pint in a proper pub for the boys. I was told they did not like the English beer 'Real Ale'

It was a brilliant moment last year after all the hard work, that Cred was finally able to offer all its own ranges in Fairtrade metals, silver and gold. Of course I have coordinate and communicate everything from miners, workshop, my line manger Sabrina, to my accountant Amanda to Alan the director to make sure it could happen.

I love when I meet customers and I am able to share it with them and because a part of their story and know them too. I am quite likely to meet customers who bought an engagement ring from us for their wedding rings and you get close to them because you share their happiness but I also get close to the miners because I know their lives.

Colombian miner in the UK for Fairtrade Gold launch in 2011For me it is quite important that customers are aware of what they buying and they are able to have a choice, because every time someone buy a Fairtrade wedding ring I know the impact that that gold has in the community. So for me it is a a choice when it comes to buying my own Jewellery - I have treated myself to the Large oval Penelope Cocktail ring  but I do not have to feel bad about wearing it because I know the beauty and good stuff behind the story. I know jewellery is not a necessity, so when buying it, do it properly!

At Cred I can be myself and the most important I am allowed to be myself. I know my strength but I also know my weakness, but my team has showed me that my weakness are my strength by keeping me to want to constantly improve. We seek for improvements all the time and we can do better which means I can do better too. 

I love to come in the mornings when my manger Sabrina has a meeting with the Director Alan - They are so funny to watch they are both such a big personalities... and then this is me with my Latin spirit saying things are they are. Sometimes my mouth goes faster than my brain! So we make laugh about each other as you will do in a family."

Later this year Monica is going to visit Sotrami and San Filomena in Peru for the first time. It'll be like a big family reunion, and we can't wait to hear her stories when she returns.