Safia Minney

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Safia Minney MBE FRSA, is a British social entrepreneur and author. She is the founder of People Tree and former Global CEO of 24 years, a pioneering sustainable and Fair Trade fashion label with a mission to provide customers with Fair Trade lifestyle clothing, lifestyle accessories and organic and Fair Trade foods in Japan and Europe. She is also a well noted spokesperson and campaigner on Fair Trade and ethical fashion. She initiated World Fair Trade Day in 1999 which is endorsed by the World Fair Trade Organization and their members and celebrated on the second Saturday of May each year. Additionally, she co-wrote the book, Naked Fashion, The Sustainable Fashion Revolution[1] and Slow Fashion, Aesthetics Meets Ethics[2] and Slave to Fashion[3] published by New Internationalist.


Early career[edit]

Safia started her career in marketing and publishing. She worked for Creative Review magazine for four years where she developed her passion for creativity and communications. From working in the advertising industry, Minney became excited about using the power of communications for social good by raising awareness of social and environmental issues.

After backpacking alone for three months between Bali and Myanmar, Minney created her own social marketing consultancy working with New Statesman and Friends of the Earth. In 1990, Minney moved to Tokyo with her husband where she learnt Japanese before working for a publishing company, Amnesty International, and eventually the Body Shop.[4]

Global Village[edit]

Safia started an environmental campaigning voluntary group called Global Village in Japan which focused on all aspects of sustainable living. With students and friends, Minney began producing and publishing an organic listings – the ‘green’ information she believed people needed to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

People Tree[edit]

Safia and the team at Global Village started to design and sell Fair Trade products at festivals around Japan and soon started to get requests from stockists. In 1995 Fair Trade Company was formed as a limited company by transferring the fair trading activity to a new company called People Tree. A shop was opened in the fashionable Jiyugaoka district, in Tokyo and in 1996 it became a member of WFTO, the World Fair Trade Organization. Fair Trade Company operated from the Minney's home for nine years, gradually occupying more space than their new family. By 2000 it had grown to 17 staff members co-ordinating product design, Fair Trade and sustainable supply chain development, sales and marketing, events and campaigns; it was time to take a commercial office space.

In 2000 the name 'People Tree' was registered as the trading name for Fair Trade Company in London.

In 2014 People Tree became the first company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organisation Fair Trade product label with an international sales turnover of £8m. WFTO labelling guarantees People Tree’s dedication and compliance to the Principles of Fair Trade, covering fair wages, working conditions, transparency, capacity building, environmental best practice, gender equality and setting standards for conventional fashion companies to improve their supply chains. Ten years ago People Tree launched the first clothing range to meet the Global Organic Textile Standard certified by the Soil Association in the so-called developing world. Safia initiated World Fair Trade Day with WFTO.

Safia and the team worked with many inspirational designers, celebrities and influencers such as Emma Watson, Dame Zandra Rhodes and Bora Aksu to mainstream the concept of sustainable and fair fashion and build its profile. Safia left the business as Global CEO at the end of 2015 to pursue new projects.

Current Projects[edit]

She runs a change agency which advises companies on building responsible supply chains and is in demand as a speaker on sustainability. For more information

Personal life[edit]

Safia was born in Britain in 1964 to a Swiss mother and Mauritian father.[4] She grew up in a middle-class suburb in England. She left school at 17 and moved to London where she worked in publishing and marketing. At 22, she visited South East Asia for three months. It was during this time she cultivated a passion for the environment, social justice, grassroots-based development and the power of Fair Trade in delivering human rights.


  • 2014 – Safia Minney shortlisted for the Social Enterprise Women’s Champion Award
  • 2014 – People Tree voted Top 5 Ethical Retailers in the UK by Ethical Consumer
  • 2013 – People Tree won Best Organic Textile Product at the Natural and Organic Products Europe Awards
  • 2013 – People Tree Highly Commended at London Sustainable City Awards in Sustainable Fashion Retail category
  • 2012 – Safia Minney won the SOURCE Award as most outstanding contributor to sustainable fashion
  • 2012 – Safia Minney won the Outstanding Contribution Award for furthering sustainability in the fashion sector and People Tree was a finalist, both in the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards
  • 2011 – People Tree was a finalist in the WGSN Global Fashion Awards
  • 2010 – People Tree won Reveal Magazine's Best Ethical Style Award
  • 2010 – People Tree won High Street Fashion Week's Eco Warrior Award
  • 2010 – People Tree won Cosmopolitan Magazine's Best Ethical E-tailer Award
  • 2009 – People Tree won the Observer Ethical Fashion Award
  • 2009 – Safia Minney was awarded an MBE in The Queen's Birthday Honours
  • 2008 – People Tree won the best eco-fashion website at the Green Web Awards
  • 2008 – Safia Minney was a finalist in the Triodos Bank Women in Ethical Business Awards
  • 2006 – Safia Minney won Social Entrepreneur of the Year in the Edge Upstart Awards
  • 2006 – Safia Minney was a finalist at the CBI's First Women Awards
  • 2005 – Eastern Eye newspaper presented Safia Minney with the Community Award at the annual Asian Business Awards, in recognition of her work with Asian Producer Communities
  • 2005 – Safia Minney selected as one of the world's most Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution. Oxford, UK: New Internationalist. 2011. ISBN 978-1-78026-041-9. Retrieved 11 October 2017 – via Barnes & Noble.
  2. ^ Noble, Barnes &. "Slow Fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  3. ^ Noble, Barnes &. "Slave to Fashion". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b Woods, Kate (12 March 2011). "Safia Minney". Juno. Retrieved 11 October 2017.

External links[edit]