Anna Bowman is the woman behind Blairgowrie’s first fair trade shop, located on the High Street in the picturesque east Perthshire town.
Anna had been involved in fair trade for a few years as what was known as a Traidcraft fair trader, supplying fair trade goods to organisations on a sale or return basis.
Her sales were growing and the enterprise taking up increasing amounts of her time, and in 2009 her annual fair trade fortnight coffee morning was a huge success, leading a friend to suggest she start a shop and speak to GrowBiz.
Anna said: “I made an appointment to see Fiona McPhail who was the GrowBiz facilitator at the time.
“I didn't need to bring my passport, utility bill or a note from my granny, in fact there was no paperwork at all - a huge benefit to someone who doesn't do forms – and it was local rather than me having to go to Perth for the appointment.
“I knew nothing about starting my own business but met with the facilitator and told her my idea. Fiona had a wealth of knowledge about business and an ability to ask searching questions - questions that made me question if this was the right thing for me to do. It was as exactly four months later All Things Fair opened.”
The enterprise journey
Anna says that once the shop had opened, it was still a huge learning curve but great fun at the same time as she met new suppliers and shared the stories behind the products with her customers.
After nearly five years in her first shop, an outlet twice the size became vacant in the High Street and she decided to move, giving her more space to stock more products benefiting her customers and an increased number of producers.
She also employs two part-time members of staff.
Anna credits her staff with providing lots of support for the business, saying that they work together on everything from choosing new stock to the displays. She has also had good support from Traidcraft and the Perth and Kinross Fair Trade Group, and her customers.
One of the hardest things about running your own business or being self-employed, however, is that at times it can be lonely.
Anna said: “Growbiz gave me the confidence to open my shop, and there was always someone who could answer a question or send me in the right direction.
“Peer support groups were a great way of meeting other people at the same stage in business that I was - being self-employed can be very lonely at times and it was good to meet with people in a confidential situation and just talk and laugh.
“I have met so many like-minded people through GrowBiz I can always find someone to talk to about business things!”
Looking to the future
For Anna, part of the reason for opening a shop was to show people that fair trade could be stylish, fashionable and affordable.
And in the future, she says: “I just want to keep promoting fair trade by offering quality products at great prices.” -