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5 Things You Need To Do Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand, with Hans Theyer of Fairtrade America

To see work as a means to an end and not an end in itself. Look for purpose in your work and how that purpose contributes to your life.

As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Hans Theyer, Executive Director, Fairtrade America. Throughout his career, Hans Theyer has pursued a passion for merging business with “global good” by focusing on ethical sourcing and improving supply chains. Prior to joining Fairtrade America, Hans held a leadership position at Agros International, a non-profit organization dedicated to rural poverty alleviation throughout Central America and Mexico. He also served as a director in Microsoft’s Rural Computing effort, an initiative to empower emerging markets through access to information and communications technology, and headed up Washington state’s first B Corp. When Hans joined Fairtrade America in 2013, he brought 20 years of expertise as a business development specialist focused on globalization, technology and economic development. A native Chilean, Hans is a self-described, “sales guy for farmers.” He is passionate about finding solutions to eradicate rural and generational poverty among farmers. Through Fairtrade America, Hans is expanding the benefits of the strong Fairtrade International system by raising public awareness and partnering with companies, retailers, producers and fairtrade advocates to continue to build a thriving fairtrade movement in the U.S. He has witnessed first-hand the incredible difference fairtrade can make for farmers, workers and entire communities in developing countries, and also, how Fairtrade helps companies achieve their sustainability goals and drive to do good.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I am a business man so having the chance to use my experience to help farmers sell more and with better financial terms was a dream come true. This is meaningful as they work extremely hard to produce and sell their products so they can live better and their families break from the cycle of poverty. Another driver was the fact that Fairtrade is the only development organization whose “beneficiaries” are key stakeholders and decision makers. So in sum, I work for and with farmers progressing out of poverty through trade.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Fairtrade America helps brands standout by ensuring their products are produced ethically and sustainably. Fairtrade America offers the most rigorous standards for fair trade certification to ensure a tangible, positive impact on the livelihood of small-scale farmers and their communities in developing countries. Businesses that certify their products as Fairtrade mitigates risks in their supply chain and add credibility to your social and/or environmental mission.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

It is extremely exciting and inspiring to see how through Fairtrade companies connect with farmers in making this world a better place. On the one hand companies are sourcing more sustainably with more fair conditions for producers, their customers are doing good through their purchases, and on the other, farmers taking good care of nature and its resources. That is what happens when companies join Fairtrade

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Today’s consumers opt for brands that demonstrate transparency, authenticity and care for people and planet. Partnering with Fairtrade America to certify your products mitigates risks in your supply chain and adds credibility to your social and/or environmental mission.

Beyond taste, quality and price, brands can increasingly differentiate themselves by appealing to consumers’ ethical concerns, including secured living wages for small-scale farmers; limited environmental impact; gender equality and the absence of child labor — integral parts of Fairtrade America certification.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

I think all the brands we partner with have done a fantastic job! Just think about the positive impact they are having in people’s lives and on the planet by enabling consumers to be part of that positive change. What impresses me is the trend of having social impact be part of their core business which was not something you could see very often in the past.

What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

To see work as a means to an end and not an end in itself. Look for purpose in your work and how that purpose contributes to your life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Farming is the single largest employer in the world — two out of every five people farm! However, millions of farmers are going hungry, not earning enough to properly feed either themselves or their families. Their lives are affected by a changing climate, inequality and a lack of an opportunity to seek an education. Everyone engages with the global supply chain when purchasing everyday items, including coffee, fresh produce, chocolate and sugar — all of which begin on a farm, usually in a developing country. Purchasing Fairtrade Certified products means farmers were fairly compensated for their goods and produced them in compliance with Fairtrade America’s rigorous standards for certification — the strictest economic, social and environmental criteria of any fair trade certifier.

Fairtrade America’s mission is to secure decent working conditions, fair prices, and better terms of trade. Our influence is two-fold: inspiring businesses to certify and promote ethical production practices and assisting shoppers in making informed purchasing decisions.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Some years ago, a friend told me “be more present with your family”. Since then I work hard to be fully present with my family — not just physically — as I can quickly fall into thinking of what’s next or my to do list. I am also trying to be more present every minute instead of operating in auto mode.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Sir Richard Branson

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @FairtradeMarkUS.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click here to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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