Trish Fox

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Trish Fox spent many years living and working in East Africa, and after returning to Australia and moving to Coffs Harbour, she decided to take on a new venture — so Parachichi Trading began. Parachichi Trading imports handmade goods from various projects in Africa, with the funds going directly to the people and communities that are producing them.

Hey Trish. You’ve lived all over the world; how did you come to be on the Coffs Coast?

After operating a hair and beauty business in Tanzania, East Africa for 14 years, I decided to come home to Australia – and with this decision came the problem of where? I knew I wanted to be close to the coast and Coffs seemed like a great choice, as it has a major airport, thriving industry, awesome beaches and natural bushland. So, why wouldn’t you move here! 

You have spent a lot of your life over in Tanzania. How did you end up there, and what was life in Africa like? 

I had travelled extensively around Africa for years, and I just didn’t want to leave. 

It was at this time another close Australian friend, who was a hairdresser like myself, and I decided we would start a hair and beauty business in Arusha, Tanzania, where the UN Tribunal of the Genocide in Rwanda was underway.

With the large contingent of European lawyers, judges and extensive staff within the UN, there was a growing need for new services within this small community, so we took the opportunity to create a business for all these new incoming professionals from Europe. Establishing this new business also meant we were able to train and provide employment for local women in the art of hair and beauty. 

When we first opened our doors, many of our local Tanzanian employees could not speak any English, with Swahili being the local language, and for most of our clients English was their second language – this combination created some quite amusing times.

All of the amazing women who were trained in our salon learnt a new language and new skills that have enabled them to go on to establish businesses of their own or gain employment in other sectors.

Life in Africa, what can I say … it’s exciting, adventurous, vibrant, hard and always hectic. It is nothing like you can experience on holiday. To live and work in Africa is a whole new ball game.

I have had the best and worst times of my life in Africa. It is a time I will never forget and never regret — I wouldn’t change a thing. The friendships I made will be for a lifetime; the experiences will never be forgotten.

You have created Parachichi Trading. What made you decide to create this business, and how has the process been so far?

After arriving in Coffs Harbour, I needed to find work but was reluctant to go back into hairdressing. I had the desire to do something that would have purpose while helping the communities of Africa to share their amazing talents. That is when Parachichi Trading was born. The business is based around sustainable and ethical fair trade, whereby I am importing handmade goods from various projects in Africa, with the funds going directly to the people and communities that are producing them. 

The process of launching Parachichi Trading has been quite a learning curve for me, as many rules in Australia have changed since I last lived here. 

However, the importance of being able to give something back to the continent that was my home for so many years and to the people who shared their country with me was quite significant. That was my driving force.

All of the products provided through the community-based enterprises that partner with Parachichi Trading are produced by hand with the utmost care and quality, making them truly unique.

You have partnered with groups like Virunga Widows Foundation; what’s it like being in partnership with such a noble group?

The Virunga Widows Foundation … What can I say; such an awesome project, as are all the projects. The VWF was established to help the widows of fallen rangers who worked to protect the mountain gorillas from poachers in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

These widows are now being taught new skills, so as to be able to sustain, survive and create an income to support their families after the loss of their husbands. The skills they are being taught is such an integral part of not only protecting these mamas and their families but also to highlight the need for continued education about conservation within these areas.

This is not the only group you have partnered with. What are some of the others?

OK, for example … Maasai Women Art, Arusha Tanzania — a non-profit organisation that is helping Maasai women in Tanzania, whereby the women are making jewellery to earn an income for themselves and their families. Traditionally, these women were cutting down trees to sell charcoal by the side of the road. There is a huge erosion problem in this region of Tanzania, so a project like this is helping the Maasai families, as well as the local environment.

Other partners include:

Kenya Pet Collars — Hellen Kariuki: Hellen decided to start a small bead working business in her village in Kenya at the beginning of 2019. She now employs a number of women from her village to assist in the business, which has quickly grown. The gorgeous beaded pet collars are now sent around the world, and Hellen is helping to support the local community in which she lives.

Leen Samyn Designs: established to help one of the last nomadic tribes of The Great Rift Valley; the funds from these wares creates an income for this tribe, who are trapped in a world where nomads can no longer roam free, as has been their tradition. The beautiful wares are crafted by skilled hands; each individual item is unique, and by producing such special pieces, this tribe is able to provide for their community and survive in a new world.

All of your business is a fair trade project. For people who may not know, what is the importance of fair trading?

Fairtrade is about supporting the development of communities in developing countries to enable them to have control of their future for themselves and their families, while also protecting the local environment. The vital factor of fair trade is that funds go directly back to the local communities. 

How are the communities you are working alongside benefiting from this?

The communities are learning new trades and skills that are helping them earn enough to support themselves while also helping build their communities and protect their local environment. For example, many of the people in these communities will be able to afford medical care, to be able to pay for school fees for their children, water, food … all the necessities that we often take for granted.

The majority of your products are sustainable; why is sustainability important to you?

Sustainability for Parachichi Trading means that we can help these African communities to maintain and balance a healthy environment and economic system for themselves, their families and the environment where they live. This will build healthy communities that will not only have the means to survive but have the chance to thrive.

Where can we find out more?

To find out more about Parachichi Trading and our partners, we can be found at

www.parachichi.com.au

Thanks, Trish. 

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