Home Cool Company Awards 2011 Meet 3Fish, Anthill 2011 Cool Company Award Finalist

Meet 3Fish, Anthill 2011 Cool Company Award Finalist [Social Capitalist Category]

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What are the Anthill Cool Company Awards?

The Cool Company Awards were launched in 2006 as a way for Anthill to acknowledge and celebrate Australian organisations that are doing things differently to bring about positive change. Cool Companies stay one step ahead of the rest. They breed leaders who are rule-makers and rule-breakers. They are trend-setters in attitude and action. Quite simply, they are … cool! More.

3Fish

Company: 3Fish
Website:3fish.com.au
State: VIC
Category: Social Capitalist

Marty and Natalie Dillon each had about 10 years invested in the marketing industry. But when they decided to strike out on their own, the husband and wife brought another facet to the table — a powerful determination to do the right thing and create a business that was ethically responsible.

In 2008, they formed 3Fish, which pays Indian farmers to grow organic cotton and also supports ethically responsible factories that turn the cotton into clothing such as dresses, kaftans, T-shirts and caps.

The farmers get a guaranteed price per kilo of cotton, and a social premium is reinvested in the community for projects such as drinking wells. No chemical pesticides or fertilizers are used, nor is genetically enhanced cotton seed. Women in the factories are ensured equal pay, children aren’t used anywhere in the supply line, and the clothing uses organic dyes and inks.

In preparation for forming 3Fish, Marty Dillon visited organic cotton farms in Maharashtra and met farmers who earn less than $500 a year working in 40-degree-plus heat. He became determined that a fair-trade clothing operation could help tackle extreme poverty.

3Fish aims their products and marketing at people and organisations with a social conscience, who care about the origins of their products. They provide merchandise for musical bands like the John Butler Trio, for existing retail brands such as Mambo and ALAS, and for non-profit organisations such as World Vision and the Global Poverty Project. You also can see 3Fish’s stuff on campuses like RMIT and Latrobe. All in all, 3Fish has produced more than 100,000 items.

Earlier this year, 3Fish was honoured by the Victorian government with the Small Business Award in the Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

3Fish knows full well it’s up against a culture that gravitates to bargains, even if it’s what Marty Dillon charitably called “the cheapest sh#t out of China.” The company is reaching out to people who will pay a little more for something (even in a bad economy) knowing it was created with ecological compassion and ethical care.

“We’ve set our sales office up in Woodend, our warehouse in Laverton and our products are made in India,” Marty Dillon says. “We’ve walked our supply chain from one end to the other.

“We tell the story of the people who make our products. We connect two ends of a very long supply chain. We’ve built a brand and business on the back of one basic human principle — trying to do the right thing.”

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