Thursday, 28 August 2014

CLS Ethical Shopping

Can you give us a little bit of background behind CLS Ethical Shopping 

CLS Ethical Shopping trades directly with a small group of Cambodian community development organisations and social enterprise businesses. The products that we have in our online store and market business are fair and ethically handmade by the organisations.

CLS Ethical Shopping also promotes and donates regular funds raised ethically handmade by the organisations.  CLS Ethical Shopping also promotes and donates regular funds raised from our product sales to the development organisation, Chumkriel Language School in Cambodia.

How did it come to be such an integral part of your world

I began CLS Ethical Shopping in 2010 after returning from my year long volunteer period with the community based development organisation Chumkriel Language School (CLS) in Cambodia (read more about them "here")

I wanted to remain involved and continue my support to CLS.  The perfect way to do this was to also support and trade with other Cambodian organisations by selling their gorgeous products here in Australia.

In 2012, when I had my baby son, CLS Ethical Shopping expanded to become a sustainable WAHM  (Work at Home Mum) Business whilst continuing to donate regularly to Chumkriel.

Getting the word out and educating people is a pretty hard job to do, but with social media and other marketing methods perhaps it's become just that little bit easier. What role do markets like Orange Grove play in not only maintaining the efficacy of Fair Trade, but helps get the word out there

Having a stall presence at markets such as Orange Grove, provides me with the opportunity to speak one-on-one with people and share my story and passion for sustainable development and fair trade principles.

It enables me to talk about the benefits that can be achieved by supporting small grass-root organisations that work hand-in-hand with vulnerable communities in Cambodia to improve their future prospects.  I find that sharing my personal experience is valued and appreciated far more than any advertising campaign.

Predominantly babies/childrens toys, clothing, accessories with some stuff in there for Mum too.  Why did you select this particular range

The organisations that I have chosen to trade were hand-selected whilst I lived in Cambodia.  I've chosen the range of products, not only for their bright colourful appearance and high quality craftmanship, but I also spent a lot of time learning about which organisation programmes were well run and had trustworthy backgrounds.

Some of the products are also my own designs that I get ethically handmade by the social enterprise Dorsu (which you can read more about "here").  The main example of this is the Eco Baby Bag, designed with practicality in mind - I needed a nappy bag that was compact and convenient.  Dorsu had the skills and ethical practices that I trusted and knew were worthy of supporting.

How would you sum up the world of CLS Ethical Shopping in 5 words

Community Learning Sustainability - my passion

And believe us when we say, the products at this stall are so beautifully made, full of gorgeous bright colours with the bonus of being durable and practical, along with such an inspiring person like Anna....well you would be foolish to not at least take a look at what the offerings are at her market stall!

You can keep up with all things CLS Ethical Shopping by following their facebook page which you can get to easily by simply clicking "this" link!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Leisa and her Brilliant Food

Brilliant Food, brilliant product, brilliant name!  What was it in particular about seafood that not only initially drew you to specialising in it but then to on share this passion with the public at large

Ocean trout was part of a signature dish at a restaurant I worked in.  I loved working with the product and learned my smoking craft from some Indian chefs in my apprenticeship in the mid '90's.

I just found that the superior qualities of ocean trout, combined with my smoking technique delivered a brilliant result!

Anytime I made this fish, the enjoyment of my friends had eating it was incredible, until one day one of my mates suggested off the cuff that I should sell it!

To get that first award (and then continue to garner more over time) must have been an amazing feeling and the ultimate positive reinforcement as to your chosen profession.  How hard is it to source your produce and what are the do's and don't's when purchasing good quality fish

The First award was a Bronze at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show.  We've obviously improved over the years and now we achieve Champion, Gold and Silver Awards.

There are intangibles outside my control that can impact the results we get.  For example, the seasonality of the fish, the moods and taste buds of the judges and the competition we face. 

The true judges of all of this are the customers who come back regularly and who have been doing so for years.

My motivation is producing a consistently superior product for our customers: we are judged every time we put our product in the market place - a grower's market, in our stockists' outlets and through direct sales.  

I will always source the best quality ingredients available: it just makes the whole process that much more successful. Working with poor quality produce is not going to deliver the product that I want everyone to enjoy.  We only use Australian seafood, and the majority of our fresh ingredients are all Australian, and we don't use preservatives in our products.  

Much of our produce is farmed fish, so as long as farming conditions are good, supply is good.  We do have purchasing specifications with our suppliers which relate to the age of the fish from harvest, temperature of the fish received and how the fish is stored. We also request that our fish is filleted in dry conditions (a dry fillet in preparation).  The texture of the flesh is really important and we know when something is not right that might be caused by age, temperature or water contact.

Tips for customers when buying fish from retail fishmongers: seafood should have a fresh clean smell; surface should be dry; if buying a whole fish, the gills should be red and the eyes should be clear.  If I was a customer, I'd be looking for overall damage......

You also have some ridiculously delicious accompaniments which are seriously popular with market shoppers.  How long does it take for you to go from concept to final product and then have it not only produced but more importantly maintained to its original standard

Product development comes as a result of market awareness.  Two or three months would be a ballpark figure.  It takes time to perfect a recipe and undertake quality and shelf life testing before a product is released.

Shelf life testing alone takes a minimum of a month.  If the planets are lined up, then preparation is quick.  If not? Then it can be a time consuming and frustrating process. Luckily I have great staff in the factory who know their job and understand the importance of having things just right.

What is it about market life that plays an important role in the world of Brilliant Food and why (in your opinion) do they (eg: markets such as Orange Grove) play such an important role within the local community

Markets are essential: Brilliant Food started in grower's markets.  We are face-to-face with our customer every weekend, hearing all types of feedback.  It keeps us real. Very often we could have an ongoing over four weeks with a customer!

At the grower's markets, because we are so close to our customers, we can feel their needs and wants which is our platform in deciding which products we make.  It's also our platform to release a new product an d get feedback.

Our latest product (Smoked Barramundi & Sweet Chilli Dip) is doing that right now! Released about four weeks ago, we've actually adjusted the method in response to our observations and customer feedback.

Grower's Markets like Orange Grove, provide a meeting place for growers' and producers to stay in touch with consumers.  they're a great outdoor event (weather permitting!) and in the modern world, we need to protect these outdoor gathering events to keep us in touch with reality and away from our digital mod cons.....human contact is the key to our personal survival.

These markets are a sanctuary in many ways: they deliver a range of benefits.

How would you sum up the world of Brilliant Food in 5 words

Brilliant Food for brilliant people....brilliant is a good word!


Lucky us!  We have Leisa's amazing produce at market each week, which tastes as good as it looks, so for all you foodies out there in blog land our advice to you is get to Orange Grove Market each Saturday, sample what's on offer, check out the accompaniments also on show and then buy up big!  Remember: support local, buy's really the only way to go!

ps: gotta luv when a chef gives buying tips too!