Interview with Scott James, Founder and President of Fair Trade Sports, Inc.

Interview with Scott James, Founder and President of Fair Trade Sports, Inc.

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Interview with Scott James, Founder and President of Fair Trade Sports, Inc.
Thursday, March 11, 2010 - 10:00am

CAMPAIGN: CSR Interview Series

CONTENT: Press Release

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) March 11, 2010 - Development Crossing recently had the opportunity to ask Scott James, Founder and President of Fair Trade Sports, Inc., a few questions about his organization and work around the world. A big thank you to Scott for taking time out of his busy schedule.

1. Could you provide a brief overview of the organization and your role and responsibilities in it?

Fair Trade Sports, Inc is the first sports equipment company in the US to launch a full line of eco-certified Fair Trade sports balls, ensuring fair wages and healthy working conditions for our adult workers. We have both an online retail store and wholesale store. I am the Founder and President. I get to do most of the fun stuff here, which for me is Marketing.

2. You’ve been quoted as saying the company is a “blatant rip-off of Newman’s Own,” the food company which donates 100% of after-tax profits to charity. What inspired you to tackle child poverty in Pakistan and emulate the generous model of Newman’s Own?

My team of attorneys and accountants took two months before we launched FTS to analyze all the various hybrid business models (nonprofits owning for-profits, etc). We discovered not a single one was generating significant dollars for charity...other than Newman’s Own. And their model is not even a hybrid! It’s a straightforward S Corporation that - as a pass-through entity - can push all after-tax profits to whomever the owners wish. In their case, as in ours, that is to children’s charities.

We should hit profitability within a few quarters; until then we make annual donations to our two children’s charities, Boys & Girls Club of America and Room to Read.

The original inspiration to fight the child labor problem came from my wife. She’s a social worker, and when our first child was born it occurred to me that he was going to one day ask me what I did for a living. I wanted to be able to say that I did something to directly help other people, like my wife does.

3. Which market has been more receptive to your fair trade products, retail or wholesale? Has there been a challenge in convincing either market of the quality of the product, when compared to big-name brands?

Retail. In this economic environment, we’re seeing alot of the independent retailers to whom we supply wholesale having difficulty. The larger wholesale chains seem to be doing OK, though.

Our citizen consumers are used to switching brands to get the sustainability features they seek, as they have been doing so with increasing frequency the past five years, particularly with organics.

4. What are some of the key challenges you face as a fair trade entrepreneur? In other words, what keeps you up at night?

The same as other entrepreneurs: cash flow, people management issues, a lousy economy. But in general, our crew seems to be able to weather the challenges well.

5. How can individuals and organizations get involved to help your efforts?

Buy a ball (or ten)! Seriously though, we have sports balls for all occasions, from green gifts to upgrading the current ball your child plays with. And send friends and family to our blog at to learn more about our unique products for soccer, football, and more, as well as more on our unique mission to help at-risk children.

6. What’s next for Fair Trade Sports?

Short term: expanding our product line to higher end basketballs, baseballs/softballs, and more. Long term: changing an industry!

About Development Crossing

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