Talking Mats

Posted on Thursday, 23 April 2015 at 10:54

Talking Mats
 is a social enterprise whose vision is to improve the lives of people with communication difficulties by increasing their capacity to communicate effectively about things that matter to them.

Margo Mackay from Talking Mats inspired her work place to choose Freeset Bags to hold their award-winning communication tool – here she explains why....

The arrival of seven large boxes shipped from Kolkata caused great excitement in the Talking Mats office last week. For me personally opening up the boxes from the Freeset factory immediately brought a series of images to mind. Just over one year ago, at the start of 2014, I was part of a delegation of Scottish women who visited India to see businesses set up to help women who had been trafficked.

A tour around the factory revealed well organised systems with women busy working in production; cutting, sewing and printing bags ordered from all over the world. A factory like any other but with a significant difference. Most of the employees had previously been trapped in India’s sex trade which had robbed them of dignity. For them, getting a job in the Freeset factory gives the women a chance to regain control of their lives in a caring community.

They are given fair pay and conditions, offered education and health care. They are supported to make their journey out of prostitution and into a new way of living, restoring hope. Although a business, Freeset is also a community. The women are often dealing with health problems (including HIV/AIDS), and psychological effects from abuse and exclusion from society. This makes for a challenging workplace and much effort is put into creating a compassionate environment where the women are supported and their needs met.

As a Social Enterprise business, through selling our Talking Mats products, we are now participating in a woman’s journey to freedom. The transformation in women’s lives is clearly apparent, simply because they’ve been given a chance. We are proud to be supporting this enterprise.

Why don’t you have a look for yourself on their website?

And why don’t you treat yourself to one of these attractive bags by buying one of our products

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Visiting Freeset Friends

Posted on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 15:50

This March, our journey to visit our incredible suppliers in India took us eleven days, across 1000 miles. But our journey as a freedom business actually started 13 years ago, when Freeset first began offering employment and opportunities to help a handful of women find freedom from prostitution. Freeset were our first partner, and they now employ over 200 women, all of whom would otherwise had no choice for other than the colossal sex industry in Kolkata. 

Freeset is based in a former ice cream factory, which is light and airy with many small rooms set up with sewing machines – a real surprise, a complete contrast to that which I had imagined. With personal pictures and posters on the walls, there was a real sense of community among the workers in each room. As you get to the top of the building, we reached the screen printing zone, where paint is mixed, where very small women defy the odds to reach over the massive screens, and where bags are pegged up to dry (bringing back memories of my school days). I was also pleased to discover that one of the key jobs at Freeset was making the Cha (that’s tea to you and me), which is then taken around to all the different rooms ready for break time. As this is my first visit, I was delighted to find that working at Freeset is not only an opportunity for freedom from the sex industry, but that it’s a real family where these wonderful women share life together. 

For me, getting the opportunity to meet some of these women for the first time, and to hear their life stories, was heart-breaking, inspiring, and motivating – all in one go. Many of them had come from the rural villages north of Kolkata, and now they have found their freedom, their dream now is to help other women and families not to face what they have been through. A real highlight of my trip was seeing their dreams beginning to become a reality; Freeset have begun setting up a new unit in Murshidibad (three hours north of Kolkata), where women from the local area will be able to gain skills to make them ready for employment in one of the many new freedom businesses in this area. The land has been bought, new weaving units producing luxurious scarves and fabrics are already being looked into, and preparations are under way for this new training unit to be built. 

Once again, in all of this the women are essential – through their empowerment and being giving opportunity to gain courage, confidence, and self-worth, they have thrived, and are nowseeking out and helping the most vulnerable and at-risk families. Through their relationship building in these villages, they are the fighters for the next generation’s freedom; they are the bringers of justice; they have found hope for themselves and many, many more to come. Through the efforts of these women, who have battled against all the odds, future generations of women and children, from homes and villages just like their own, will be empowered to make better choices for their families and their futures. 


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New Range of Jute and Cotton Bags for 2014

Posted on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 at 18:42

The New Year is almost upon us and we're pleased to say we have a great new range of bags which can be customised to meet your needs. Using a wide range of jute colours and organic cotton, we can make sure your satisfied with a quality product with an amazing impact.

Why not check out our great new product guide for 2014 here

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The Cost of Fast Fashion

Posted on Thursday, 21 March 2013 at 15:15


We enjoyed this short video and thought you might too.

Can you believe that every year, the clothing industry produces 2 million tons of waste, emits 2.1 million tons of carbon dioxide, and uses 70 million tons of water! These figures are shocking but the sad thing is that they have significantly risen to this height over the years since Fast Fashion became a retailing standard. Fast Fashion has meant that clothes are no longer made to last. This means that within 2 years the majority of clothing produced ends up in the bin and becomes landfill. Fast Fashion has created an unsustainable model that will continue to drive price, quality and good design down to an all time low.

We at Freeset want to stand against Fast Fashion and are committed to producing high quality, well thought out sustainable bags and t-shirts that care about their owners and the environment. All of the production process at Freeset is conducted in a fair trade fashion as well as caring for our employee’s health and learning too.

Freeset breaks the model of production for profit and focuses on social change and impact. Changing women’s lives through the sustainable employment of creating sustainable and environmentally friendly products is Fashion at it’s most conscientious.

video source: http://www.onlinemba.com/blog/business-of-fast-fashion

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Social Enterprise Exchange

Posted on Thursday, 14 February 2013 at 20:58

The Social Enterprise Exchange returns again this year to host the World's largest international social enterprise event and Freeset are glad to be the official bag providers.

The aim of the event is to inspire, provide space to learn and encourage social enterprise business activity. Building on the amazing feedback from last year the best bits have been kept and there have been added some fantastic new elements provided by social enterprises from around the world.

There is a full day of snappy debates on hot topics delivered by big names and some new voices in social enterprise. With over 1000 delegates and social businesses selling products and services, there is the opportunity to get involved, network and significantly influence the future of social enterprise.

The Social Enterprise Exchange is on Thursday 21st March at SECC in Glasgow.

More information can be found at http://socialenterpriseexchange.com/

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The Real Cost of Cheap Products...

Posted on Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 13:42

Hearing about the Bangladesh factory fire this week puts in perspective the real cost of cheap high street items. More than 100 workers died in the devastating fire at the nine-storey garment factory based in the outskirts of the capital city Dhaka.

A further 300 factories near the capital were shut earlier this year as workers demanded higher wages and better working conditions. Unfortunately due to poor safety standards, hazardous wiring and over crowding fatal fires aren’t uncommon in Bangladesh’s garment sector.

We believe that there is another way of doing business. At Freeset women can seek not only a route to employment but employment in a reputable factory with high ethical standards, providing a living wage, education and health care for its employees.

We recognise our customers desire to buy products made to a high standard in good working conditions where employees are treated fairly. In this dynamic we face the challenge of holding out and pricing our products fairly in the face of a global market that has been drastically driven down, which in turn sadly leads to the outcome of cheap poorly produced products at the cost of human rights, ethical standards and as we’ve heard this week lives.


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Seven Years of Trading Against Trafficking

Posted on Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 09:35

Although the vision is older, 7 years ago we received heard back from Companies House and a dream became a reality. Freeset Ltd started trading in the UK with the intention of supplying customers with fair trade jute and cotton bags and at the same time creating freedom from trafficking for women in Kolkata. Our driver was to see freedom and empowerment for these women and to do so, we wanted to see a happy customer base – this trade relationship could then be grown and women would not be the recipients of charity but given real jobs, making real products for real customers.

Tens of Thousands of bags, satchels and customers later we are helping to grow a workforce who have the freedom not previously possible. Each woman’s life has been transformed through the employment created. Thousands and thousands of fair trade conference bags have been produced along with shoppers, market and other promotional bags. Orders continue to flow in. Our bags have had many different customers from the famous through to the unknown. Each person has been part of the story of freedom though and equally important in helping us to bring change.

As we celebrate our 7th Birthday we want to thank all of our customers for helping us to make a tangible difference – long may it continue!! If you want further information on Freeset as a social enterprise, please check out here or drop us an email!

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Organic T-Shirts

Posted on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 at 17:05

When Freeset started 11 years ago the aim was to help women find freedom from human trafficking through social business. An order for wine bags was landed and a bag business was given life.

Although Freeset’s main production is still committed to jute and organic cotton bags, more jobs were needed for the many women that are caught in the brothels of Sonagacchi, Kolkata. This lead to the launch of Freeset Tees – a new unit making organic cotton t-shirts under fair trade conditions.

Thousands of t-shirts are made each year and in doing so, many women are now free from exploitation. All workers are paid fair wages and have healthy working conditions. Freeset t-shirts symbolise freedom and innovative social enterprise at work.

About the shirts

  • Manufactured under fair trade conditions
  • 100% GOTS certified organic cotton fabric (also available organic fairtrade cotton in black only)
  • Six colors of fabric
  • Eco-friendly dying process for the cotton
  • Three great patterns with options:
    • Unisex - a classic tee with quarter length sleeves suiting both men and women
    • Girly - a sculpted design for women with a scoop neckline. Available with three sleeve options: cap (short), quarter and long (full length)
    • Kids – Our new shirt.
  • Printed using eco-friendly, water-based inks

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Government to bring in Plastic Bag Levy?

Posted on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 at 14:23

Would you cut don on using plastic bags if there were a 5p charge for them?

75% of people asked in polls so far have said that they would cut down – and we think that’s GREAT!

The latest figures have shown that the number of plastic bags being given out by supermarkets has risen by over 5% last year alone in the UK.

You may have noticed that some retailers have already independently begun charging for their single-use plastic bags, which we’re really pleased about. Groups such as Break the Bag Habit campaign are urging the government to follow the lead of Wales and bring in a small levy on carrier bags across England

We hope that this will urge shoppers to make an even stronger positive impact in the world. By choosing to buy a jute or organic cotton Freeset bag you can make a positive impact not only on the environment but also in the lives of women the other side of the globe, giving them the opportunity to escape a life of trafficking and sexual exploitation.

So you can make a difference today, in your local area and globally by choosing Freeset fair trade bags… why not buy your new essential ethical shopping companion here today…


For more info on custom printing click here

Or here to buy individual Freeset shopper bag… 



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Fairtrade Organic T-Shirts

Posted on Monday, 18 June 2012 at 10:45

What is this about fairtrade organic t-shirts on a bag website?

Good question!

As well as our great range of jute, hessian and organic cotton eco bags, we also supply fairtrade organic t-shirts. As with our bags, all are made by the women at the Freeset manufacturing unit in Kolkata. 

Each t-shirt sold helps contribute to women's freedom through creating sustainable employment and helping them rebuild their lives after exploitation through trafficking and prostitution.

A recent customer has been International Justice Mission UK. As with all our bags we aim at getting all our customers a great product, excellent service and to maximise the impact we can make in the lives of the women who make them.

"We are so pleased to have got our t-shirts through Freeset. Their help and patience during the process were amazing, and the t-shirts themselves are great!" IJM UK


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Developing Products to Help People

Posted on Thursday, 31 May 2012 at 10:41

At Freeset we often say that our business is people but what do we mean? As a social enterprise commited to providing opportunities for freedom from human trafficking, our focus must be on both customer satisfaction and staff welfare. We are in business to provide work opprtunities, genuine choices and real freedom for previously exploited women. We are also in business to offer customers real satisfaction and a great service with great products.

We are always looking to innovate and to see how we can recycle, use ethical and eco materials and make an impact in trafficked womens lives as well as living lightly on this planet. 2012 sees a number of new products which will be appearing online over the next few weeks. This includes organic cotton tie string bags, jute pencil cases, jute duffel bags and organic cotton satchels.

Keep an eye out here for additions to our existing products and why not follow us on Twitter for updates

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Happy Customers mean Empowered Women

Posted on Friday, 09 March 2012 at 09:03

We've just had International Women's Day 2012 and at Freeset this is an important day. At the heart of our business is the empowerment of exploited women and the provision of opportunities for genuine choice. 

That's why we're not just a "normal" jute bag manufacturer. We're a business which provides bags and organic t-shirts whilst keeping the women we employ at the forefront.

To see more women empowered we need to make sure that customers are happy. This recent comment is what we look as we focus on customer service. After all, happy customers also means empowered women!

'We have ordered the folios for the first time for our national conference.  We were very pleased with the ethical attributes of the product which closely match both our own company social and environmental policy and those of our clients.  The folios will help to demonstrate what we're all about as a company; quality, attention to detail and conscience. Mark was helpful throughout the process and helped us through our first order to make sure we got the nest quality product.  They have just arrived earlier than expected and we are extremely pleased with the results - we are sure our clients will be impressed at the conference next week'.  Kate Measures owner, KM Consulting

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Winners of Social Enterprise Award

Posted on Friday, 27 January 2012 at 10:10

We’re pleased to say we won the 2012 Social Enterprise Award last night at the inaugural People & Environment (PEA) Business Awards (http://peabusinessawards.com). Sponsored by the National Enterprise Network, the Social Enterprise Award was to acknowledge the work and achievements of the individuals or teams behind the most inspiring and successful social enterprises.

The award recognises the work that we do in two ways. This is through addressing waste through creating eco jute and cotton bags and also creating employment for women in India who are now free from human trafficking and exploitation in prostitution.

Although it is impossible to mention everyone by name, it is important to recognise the team contribution and the many people who have helped along the way. It’s also important to recognise the hard work of the women in India who are the real inspiration and the reason we’re in business.

Of course we are always looking for new customers who are sourcing jute, hessian or organic cotton bags. If you are looking for promotional bags or eco conference bags why not give us a call and see how we can help?

You can also find great bags made by Freeset and other great fairtrade gifts, household items and t-shirts in our online shop. All items help our work against human trafficking.

You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook - this is for our retail site www.globalseesaw.co.uk

Freeset UK Director Mark Wakeling with member of judging panel, Deborah Meaden  

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People and Environment Business Awards Finalists 2012

Posted on Thursday, 26 January 2012 at 11:11

Tonight is the 2012 People and Environment (PEA) Business Awards and we’ve been selected as finalists for the Social Enterprise Award. Being one of two finalists we need to wait and find out whether we have won but it’s great to be recognised for the work we do to tackle human trafficking and reduce waste.

The PEA Business Awards have been launched to celebrate how green initiatives can be good for business as well as the planet.  It’s exciting to be part of these inaugural awards and to join with so many other green and ethical businesses who have been selected for their contributions.

The Social Enterprise Award is to acknowledge the work and achievements of the individuals or teams behind the most inspiring and successful social enterprises (whether a start-up, an organisation that holds the social enterprise mark or a business or project led by young people).

“The PEA Business Awards look for the real innovators–the teams and individuals who are driving new models of business. If this is a moment where the business sector has to respond rapidly to the social, environment and economic crises we confront, the PEA Business Awards celebrate the catalysts.”
Leo Johnson, Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers Sustainability & Climate Change & Chairman of Pea Business Awards Judges


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Great Service

Posted on Thursday, 05 January 2012 at 13:01

Our aim is to make sure our customer get what they want and when they want it. That way we can create more freedom for women who have been trafficked and our customers can be confident we'''ve got it in hand. We are a social enterprise tackling exploitation through our great export quality bags.

We recently produced cotton bags for the London Borough of Newham.

These light weight bags make an ideal promotional item for events. Newham is a fairtrade borough and through working with us at Freeset were able to show their commitment to ethical trade.

But instead of our words, how about theirs...."another great order from Freeset, delivered before schedule, even though time was tight, without compromising on quality - thank you."

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50in250 Social Enterprise Mark Campaign

Posted on Thursday, 17 November 2011 at 11:11

In the current economic climate, some businesses have been forced to change their priorities to the detriment of their corporate social responsibility objectives. In response, the Social Enterprise Mark Company is launching its first national campaign, 50 in 250, designed to support businesses’ use of certified social enterprises within their supply chains, and in the process dramatically improve the benefit they deliver to communities.

 Freeset is certified with the Social Enterprise Mark, which guarantees that profits are used to improve society and protect the environment. Mark Wakeling said “50in250 will help companies know who can contribute real social value to their supply chains. As the certification for social enterprises, the Mark provides the only reliable way of knowing that the people you do business with have genuine commitment to use profits to support their social or environmental aims.”

 The campaign is designed to help 50 businesses each buy from 5 social enterprises, within 250 days. By using certified social enterprises in their supply chain, businesses can demonstrate corporate responsibility in an ongoing, valuable and meaningful way.

 Gordon Morris, Chair of the Social Enterprise Mark Company said: “We are very excited to be launching a campaign which directly supports business to achieve positive benefit to their communities through their commercial activity. 50 in 250 will deliver a step change in the social enterprise sector by encouraging, and supporting, large businesses to integrate social enterprises into their supply chain. It is time for greater recognition of the power of social enterprise to realise benefits for business and our communities alike. Age UK Enterprises, as a supporter of this campaign, will be encouraging customers and partners to sign up.”

 Businesses that get involved with this campaign will be differentiated as leaders and innovators in promoting social enterprises.  It will prove their support and commitment to quantifiable Corporate Social Responsibility by integrating the Social Enterprise Mark’s social and environmental credentials, as well as stimulating more business between Social Enterprise Mark holders with private and public sector organisations.

 To celebrate the campaign launch, the City of London Corporation is holding an event on the 22nd of November at the Guildhall, with speakers from KPMG and Wates and will be opened by Gordon Morris, Chair of the Social Enterprise Mark Company and Managing Director of Age UK Enterprises, the largest financial organisation to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark.

 The 50in250 campaign for businesses complements the Society Profits campaign focusing on influencing consumer buying habits, recently launched by Social Enterprise UK. The Social Enterprise Company awards the Social Enterprise Mark to those businesses who benefit the community by trading for both people and planet and re-invest profits into that purpose. Consequently, the positive affect that these businesses have on the customer and organisation should not be overlooked, particularly with threats of a double dip recession looming. The Mark ensures that a social enterprise is recognised for the positive impact they bring to society.


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Welsh Government Back Plastic Bag Levy

Posted on Friday, 30 September 2011 at 16:16

The Welsh Government have launched their new rules on the use of disposable plastic bags. Shoppers in Wales will be charged at least 5p for single use bags from 1 October 2011 and it is the first UK nation to introduce the charge.

The aim is to cut down on the "excessive" number of bags and all shops will be required by law to introduce the levy, which it is hoped will encourage people to take their own bags shopping.

We think it's great news! Not only will their be less waste in landfills and damaging wildlife but there is also an opportunity to impact women's lives half way across the world! Hessian and Jute Bags along with fairtrade cotton bags are a great alternative instead.

In Kolkata, India our fairtrade bags are made by women who are escaping human trafficking. By choosing Freeset, the shopkeepers of Wales can help locally and globally in one go!



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Celebrating 10 Years of Freedom

Posted on Monday, 19 September 2011 at 11:11

Freeset has just celebrated being in business for 10 years! Of course, Freeset isn’t like a familiar business. Freeset is a business with a double bottom line. You may well ask what we mean. At Freeset, success isn’t just measured by turning a profit. Success is measured by lives changed and opportunities for Freedom offered. Profits are used to create more opportunities for freedom and women who have been trafficked are given genuine choices and chances in life. We’re a business with a difference!

Last year Freeset made 175,000 bags and 42,000 T-Shirts and now employs nearly 200 women. Many of these women have been trafficked and all exploited through prostitution with little freedom to change. Through the work of Freeset things are different and trafficked women how have choice.

We think the best way to celebrate 10 years is to hear the voices of those who have been at the heart of the journey – the wonderful women at Freeset…….


“The difference between the jobs offered by Freeset and any other jobs is the women in the line are considered totally untouchable to any other employer in our society.  We are not even considered regular human beings.  In contrast to that Freeset is providing identity to these women by offering them jobs.  So Freeset is more about freedom than just a mere job.”  -Mena

The day I got my first salary was the most memorable day of my life. That day I chose the path to freedom.” -Kundula

“When I was in line and when I used to get a lot of money (though irregularly), I never had any planning or had no intention of saving.  But after working here and getting used to drawing a regular salary, I have learned how to keep a balance between things and how to save.” – Bebe

“Freeset is very significant to me.  It is a place for freedom…..Freeset is for all the women in the line.  This is the only place for their freedom.  Whoever is not in the line can get a job anywhere but the women in line have no opportunity to get a decent job.”  -Santosh

“I never look back to the life I had before.  I am a free person now.” -Janat

“I wish all the women in line could get freedom by coming here. I want Freeset to grow more.”-Sandiya

“When we come to Freeset we feel like it is our family. I can’t wait to come to work when I’m at home.” -Mena

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Fashion and Trafficking

Posted on Friday, 09 September 2011 at 16:09

Beulah London have hit the ground running and have had many people talking about their heart to see fashion make an impact in the lives of women who have been trafficked. We think it's great that there are so many people interested in human trafficking and how business can make a difference.

We've supplied Beulah London with their bags and had this great feedback....

'We are absolutely thrilled with our Beulah bags from Freeset. They are the perfect gift to go alongside each dress and are loved by our customers. We will be ordering many more...'


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Another Satisfied Customer

Posted on Friday, 29 July 2011 at 10:07

We know our bags are great and know the women who make them are amazing. What we love too is the feedback from our happy customers. We received the following email from the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at  Cambridge Judge Business School. Through choosing Freeset for their conference bags they got a great product, service and lives of women who had been trafficked are being changed. Thanks CfEL!

“We were so pleased to find such an ethically sound company, and the bags couldn’t have been more perfect for the needs of our programme. We even had people who were not part of the programme asking if they could have one! They were stylish, well made and hard wearing, excellently priced and most of all from a very helpful, friendly and ethical company. As part of the University of Cambridge Judge Business School we were very happy to promote such a good example of ethical trading to the 100+ people developing their businesses on our Ignite programme.”


Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning

University of Cambridge Judge Business School

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In Her Own Words

Posted on Friday, 20 May 2011 at 17:05

upa has worked at Freeset for the past eight years. She demonstrated excellent leadership ability quite early in her employment and was given the position of assistant to the production manager in bags a couple of years ago. Recently, she was promoted to Production Manager of T-shirts. 

"I want the women who are still standing in line to be free and to have time to laugh.”

Her responsibilities include making sure that production runs smoothly and that production goals are met so that shipments can go out on time. She also makes sure that all of the women in Tees’s are working well and producing good quality work. When asked if she likes her new position she replied, “Yes!” with a broad smile. As the mother of two daughters she said, “Life has been so much better since I started working here. I have a good salary. I can give a better life to my children and they can go to school.” 

Rupa has a strong passion to see more women free from the trade. “I want to see Freeset grow. I want to see lives changed. I want the quality of women’s lives get better and the character of their lives to improve. It’s important for children to see their mothers doing good things. Then the stigma that has been on the family can be removed and the children can be proud of their mothers. I want the women who are still standing in line to be free and to have time to laugh.” 

To buy individual Freeset Fairtrade and Organic T-Shirts you can visit here or here.  If you are interested in custom printed shirts for a youth group, event or resale do drop us an e-mail.

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Freeset and WFTO

Posted on Thursday, 19 May 2011 at 17:17

Freeset is now officially a full member of the World Fair Trade Organization.

Not only do we believe in working together to make the world a fairer place to do business, we believe that people should be paid a fair wage for making the stuff we buy.

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Fairtrade Organic T-Shirts

Posted on Friday, 25 March 2011 at 08:03

From the feedback we get, we know that people love the Freeset concept. Not only do you get a great product but you can also be part of a powerful story where the business' success means womens' lives are changed rather that the business owners profits are swollen. All our products are made by women existing prostitution and escaping human trafficking.

Following on from the success of our custom printed jute and organic cotton bags, a new unit was set up for t-shirts. Using only the highest quality organic and fairtrade cotton we believe we have closed the circle and the actual manufacture of the shirts makes a significant difference. Right from the farmer to the seamstress fair wages are paid and balance is placed in the supply chain.

The importance of organic and fairtrade cotton is explained well in a recent video by Lily Cole for Climate Week. As people grow in awareness of the impact of our consumer choices, we hope that more benefits will flow back to those that create the products we enjoy.

If yo are looking for custom printed tees or t-shirts, do consider the ethical, employment and environmental implications. Do give us a call and see how we can help you with shirts that really make a difference to the farmers and vulnerable women that helped make them. We believe that social enterprise is the future of business.   

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What An Endorsement!

Posted on Monday, 21 March 2011 at 13:13

One recent customer asked whether we could help with fairtrade organic cotton bags for an event they were involved with. We're always keen to tailor our products and service to a customers needs - including shipping to several places at once. All the bags go to the various destinations in time and we received this excellent endorsement....

"Freeset bags were such an ideal gift for an event we organised recently to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day. The message of the day was about looking at what the next 50 years hold for women in business and their role in society and what we need to consider so we can start shaping the future now. The Freeset story is aptly one of empowerment and liberation for women; getting these bags were a move for our client to help these women move towards a better future and in doing so, hopefully inspire others to also think about aiding women trapped in poverty to advance towards a better tomorrow.

These bags were very well-received, and it’s little wonder as they are not only eco-friendly but good quality gifts—very handy as a ‘goody bag’! Definitely a much better choice than any regular paper bag!

Thanks Mark, for helping us with our order and shipping to London, New York and Hong Kong! Your professionalism, can-do attitude and efficiency in sourcing solutions for us helped us nail this."

If you have specific needs and we can help, do drop us a line and help make a difference. 

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Happy Customers

Posted on Tuesday, 01 March 2011 at 20:03

It's always goog to get feedback from happy customers. Ethical conference bags are one of our specialities and our jute Courier Satchel is an ideal bag for events. One recent customer was Royal Holloway, (part of the University of London) who were hosting the Information and Communication Technologies for Ddevelopment Conference. We received the following feedback from one happy customer!

“In hosting ICTD2010, we were looking for good quality, ethically sourced delegate bags, and were fortunate in finding Freeset!  They helped us ensure that the design was just right for our purposes, and they delivered the bags ahead of time.  For delegates, the bags continue to serve as a great reminder of the conference!” RHUL

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Fairtrade Fortnight

Posted on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 10:02

Every year Fairtrade Fortnight falls in February/March and is the Fairtrade Foundations campaign to raise awareness of and promote fair-trade.

The last few years have seen huge inroads into the mainstream and now huge manufacturers such as Tate & Lyle have pushed products that are specifically fairtrade.

These advances are great to see and the customer awareness of the fair-trade mark is definitely at a high.

This move to the mainstream is not without criticism however and many ask whether there is a danger of the principles being watered down as large retailers flex their purchasing power.

For us, the danger is that people only associate the fairtrade mark as a sign of fair-trade.

At Freeset, we’ve often said we’re not just about fair trade but were about doing trade completely differently. In most businesses the most able are employed and the least able are let go. The owners and managers are the ones who get paid the most and the junior staff the least. To us though fair-trade is about changing this. We employ women who need a job as the alternative is a life of exploitation having been trafficked into prostitution.  We then train and equip these women to be effective in the sewing industry and make sure their wages are beyond what they could have expected. Having no “business owners” means that the business can be run for the women’s benefit and the profits are reinvested to help them and others like them in the community.

We will definitely be celebrating this Fairtrade Fortnight but at the same time pushing a message that there are other models or fair trade beyond the logo which is now all so familiar.

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Posted on Monday, 24 January 2011 at 15:15

The Observer newspaper ran an interesting article at the weekend regarding social networking and how it can isolate rather than connect. But how does that relate to us?

Within the article there was an interesting thought put forward by Evgeny Morozov from his book The Net Delusion.According to Morozov social media has bred a generation of what he calls "slacktivists". He argues that the new opportunities provided by social media have made people lazy.  Along with this laziness he argues that it’s enshrined the illusion that clicking a mouse is a form of activism equal to real world donations of money and time.

As we’ve developed this social business we’ve become converts to social media and the opportunities both to advertise products and to profile the social aims of the business. Has this increased the tendency for “slactivisim” though?

Whilst there is certainly a possibility of “slacktivism” for a small minority we’re not likely to be a “slactivist” cause. Our identity as a social enterprise means that we do not run on donations like a charity would or a campaign but instead products must be sold. Activity must happen.

Also, if people do choose to click a mouse to profile our work we certainly will not be complaining. Advertising and publicity is often a significant part of a large company’s budget. Running a smaller ship and being rooted with our manufacturing partners means we do not have the ability to promote our products in the same way. This is where the new opportunities provided by social media come in. Having people click their mouse on behalf of us is an important way of getting brand awareness our and products moving. In turn, real activity happens when jobs are provided and lives are changed.

Whatever the truth is on “slactivism”, don’t be put off tweeting about us, liking us on Facebook and sending our details on to your friends to pass on. We need you to help us in helping to make a difference to all those employed by the businesses we work with.

Feel free to pass a link to this on to others who want to see change and see that social media whilst not the answer can play an important part.

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New Online Shop at GlobalSeesaw

Posted on Friday, 12 November 2010 at 16:11

Our online shop has moved! As we feature more than bags and more than Freeset it was time to make a change and give an update. Our improved online shop can be now found at www.globalseesaw.co.uk 

Global Seesaw
is committed to bringing you quality products that are beautiful, useful and ethical. Our products are known for their contemporary design, use of recycled materials and manufactured with love by the women who make them. Our aim is to balance quality products at affordable prices with a business that really makes a difference in the lives of women made vulnerable through poverty, exploitation, human trafficking and prostitution.

We are a social enterprise business that goes beyond fair trade to provide employment for women who have formerly been trafficked into prostitution and assist them in changing their lives.  We employ women to address the global inequality that keeps them in poverty and leads into a downward spiral of prostitution and exploitation.  We go beyond simply paying fair wages, providing a safe, healthy working environment and refusing to employ child labour, but re-invest our profits into the business.  By doing this, we actively invest in the women and their families empowering them to escape poverty and build a secure future.

Whether you are searching for a gift for someone special, a treat or an essential household item, you are sure to find products that are unique, beautiful, modern and helping women to make their future brighter.

Global SeeSaw is the UK distributor for Freeset , Sari Bari and Love Calcutta Arts.

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Profits Among the Penniless

Posted on Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 13:13

Both the New York Times and the China Post ran an article this last week on Profits Among the Penniless. 

Check out the article -  http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2010-10/31/content_11481293.htm

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The Girl Effect

Posted on Tuesday, 12 October 2010 at 14:14

The Girl Effect is the potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world. It’s an untapped force in the fight against poverty, and it’s driven by champions around the globe: the Nike Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the UN Foundation, the Coalition for Adolescent Girls, CARE, Plan, the Population Council, ICRW and the Center for Global Development – and many others.

Why Girls?

Because there’s poverty, and war, and hunger, and AIDS, and because when adolescent girls in the developing world have a chance, they can be the most powerful force of change for themselves, their families, communities, countries, and even the planet.

But while those 600 million adolescent girls are the most likely agents of change, they are often invisible to their societies and the world.

So what can you do about that? Help make girls visible. Stand up and be counted by becoming a fan of The Girl Effect, and getting your friends to do the same. Tell the world that you think the 600 million girls in the developing world deserve better – for themselves, and for the end of poverty. 

That’s a start. Ready to learn and do more? Head over to girleffect.org


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Hitting the Target

Posted on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 12:12

Having delivered the new funky bags to Aberdeen University Student's Association we received this great response...

"Thanks so much for our beautiful and colourful jute bags, it is great to spot them around campus and know how ethically they were produced.  We also found the customer service of Freeset really helpful, approachable and friendly."

We're glad the Veg Bag Co-operative are happy customers. We always aim to please!

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More Happy Customers

Posted on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 20:20

Today saw the delivery of more bags for happy customers and our online shop. 

What makes our bags unique is the story behind them. We do not want to settle for being another bag importer who is offering an alternative to plastic bags but instead want to make a real difference in the people's lives who make them and come from a background of poverty and abuse that most could not even imagine.

Today's bags were for a Farmer's Market, Shopping Centre, Charity Conference and University VegBag scheme. All great customers who chose to source their bags and to make a difference to trafficked women in India at the same time. Quality bags and a Quality story - what a win/win.


Also delivered were new kantha journals, recycled sari journals and newspaper bags from recycled Indian newspapers. All of which will be available on our online shop shortly. If you haven't checked it out already do give us a visit before it gets revamped in the coming weeks. 


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Posted on Monday, 06 September 2010 at 16:09

Have you ever wondered about the ethical claims that businesses make?

Is it possible that "ethcal trade" and "eco-friendly" are terms that are used to sell more products?


These are good questions to ask!

Futerra have produced a guide to greenwash and it's well worth a read.


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Where does the power lay?

Posted on Saturday, 21 August 2010 at 10:10

Amnesty International have a new secretary general who has started by highlighting the need for a shift on focus.

Salil Shetty, the first Indian to lead Amnesty, has a good grasp of human rights and how these are deeply embedded and not a gift from the West. In a recent interview Shetty noted, "Our presence in the developing world needs to expand. We need a more vibrant presence in India, Brazil and Africa so that it is the people there who are doing the research and the campaigning and not people sitting in London."


Shetty's approach is one that we echo. Ethical Trading should not be about Western companies doing things fairly whilst allowing market forces to keep down any real change for those who are making the products. Instead those who make the products in countries such as India should be the ones that benefit and should take a lead in helping us to understand what ethical trade really is. 

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The global feminization of poverty

Posted on Wednesday, 11 August 2010 at 10:10

Of the estimated 1.3 billion people living in poverty around the world, 70 percent are women and girls. Women and girls are also the fastest increasing group of impoverished, a process called "the global feminization of poverty." (http://www.un.org/Conferences/habitat/unchs/press/women.htm

The need for employment aimed at these women is essential and Freeset offers a targeted solution.

Each Freeset bag helps move women away from a life of poverty and gives a future for their children


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Posted on Thursday, 22 July 2010 at 15:07

Welcome to the new Freeset Bags UK website for custom printed bags.

We hope our new site will provide extra information about our custom printed bags and enable our customers to connect with both the Freeset story and our products.

This blog will be reflecting on different aspects of ethical trade, human trafficking and social enterprise so do keep us bookmarked.

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