Fair Trade incense? Is there such a thing? These and many more questions sprung to mind a year or so ago.
Afterall, I`d never used incense before and didn`t really know what they were or how it all worked. Wasn`t it something hippies used at music festivals? Was it anything to do with smoking or drugs? The questions kept coming.

I`d noticed that a number of retailers, both online, in stores and at market stalls were selling incense. Perhaps this was an area my business needed to look closely at? But where on earth do I begin?
As it happens, the answer to that last question was to be….India.

Thank heavens for Google search. (Oh..and for feed back from some of my more knowledgeble friends!)
Spending a few hours searching Google taught me that there is a massive range of different fragrances, brands, importers and quality levels out there.
I`d also seen from visits to a couple of nearby markets that retail prices varied considerable. Just how were retailers able to sell bundles of incense sticks for under a pound?

Well, now I know and, as usual, it`s all down to quality of the raw materials and the method of manufacture.
For the actual product itself, the use of nasty, artificial ingredients makes a huge difference to not only the fragrance quality, but the burn time too. I found this out by sampling dozens of different products at home and keeping a detailed log of my findings.
Time-consuming (and at times, unpleasant) stuff, but very necessary if I was to be making the right business decisions.

Armed with this research, I decided that incense was a product area I wanted to move into, but as a Fair Trade business, needed to be very careful about the provenance of any products stocked.
Luckily, one of my existing Fair Trade suppliers (who supply our range of handmade baskets) also included incense in their range.
The brand name is One Aromatics and they are imported from a village in southern India, where traditional methods of manufacturer are still used and only natural raw materials are used.
Additionally, I was able to get guarantees as to the trading practices adopted and could see that Fair Trade principles were being strictly adhrered to.
I liked their story and was happy to move to the next stage….

Having tried some samples myself, I could see that I had stumbled upon something special and decided to place my first order with them.

We haven`t looked back since. Our customers are telling us that, in their opinion, these are the finest incense on the market and we have now built up a loyal customer base who refuse to buy anything other than our One Aromatics incense sticks.

From the range of 12 frangrances we now stock, my personal favourite is Vanilla –
essence from the pods is combined with oil from sandalwood to produce a fragrance that is wonderfully calming, consoling, and soothing. A great relief in tense or stressful situations.

If anyone would like to know more about our importer of these incense and the great work they do in supporting the producer group in southern India, please leave a comment at the bottom of this Blog post, or contact me directly.

Thank you for reading – please look out for more “Secret Diary of a Fair Trader” posts soon – Paul