Oxfam Ambassador, celebrity chef and restaurateur Kylie Kwong will design her own range of fair trade kitchenware, to be sold through Oxfam’s shops around Australia.
The new kitchenware range will be developed by Kylie in close collaboration with Oxfam, and crafted by one of Oxfam’s key producer partners in Vietnam, in time for Christmas next year.
“When Oxfam approached me to consider designing a range of kitchenware, I realised this was a project which could bring together my passion for cooking, love of art, and advocacy for a better deal for producers in developing countries,” Ms Kwong said.
This is the first time Kwong, a former graphic designer, has ventured into kitchenware products. The range will be influenced by Kwong’s Chinese heritage with a modern twist, similar to the highly acclaimed food she serves up at Sydney restaurant Billy Kwong. Kylie will create unique designs to adorn her range, which will include a soup bowl, rice bowl, and Chinese teapot and teacup.
“I am incredibly excited about this project, and about playing a greater role in raising awareness about fair trade and its benefits,” Ms Kwong said.
Kwong’s kitchenware range will be produced by Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts, who specialise in ceramics and are renowned for their intricate, hand-painted designs. Originally established to help send Vietnamese children to school, Mai now employs the mothers and older sisters of these children, and most of its artisans are women.
Kwong, a long term Ambassador for the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand, said designing her own fair trade kitchenware range was a “natural extension” of her advocacy on the issue.
“The fair trade system puts people back front and centre of the supply chain, and can make a tangible difference to the lives of families in developing countries. Growing up, I was heavily influenced by my mother and her sisters, and I feel a real affinity for Mai’s work with Vietnamese women,” Ms Kwong said.
Oxfam’s Director of Trading, Nadine Silverberg, said the organisation was thrilled Kylie Kwong had agreed to take on this project, which she said would make a real difference not only to the lives of producers at Mai, but also to fair trade producers more broadly.
“Kylie Kwong is the perfect person to work with Oxfam on this project given her prominence as a leading Australian chef and her advocacy on fair trade, which is a wonderful fit with Oxfam’s work.
“This project is part of our vision to take fair trade mainstream, by bringing beautiful, high quality, hand-crafted products into the modern Australian home. Each product has a unique story to tell, including those created at Mai, as they are meticulously hand-crafted by community artisans around the world, with love and time-honoured skill,” Ms Silverberg said.
Kylie Kwong will travel to Vietnam in early 2011 to meet with Mai producers, check on the development of her new range, and see firsthand how fair trade is benefiting this community.
Kylie Kwong will announce her new kitchenware range at 12pm today at Oxfam’s Broadway Shop (1 Bay St, Broadway in NSW).
Oxfam’s shops are run on a not-for-profit basis, assisting producers in developing countries and raising awareness of fair trade. Oxfam has 23 shops around Australia and an online shop: www.oxfamshop.org.au.
For more information, please contact Raina Hunter on 0402 145 820, email firstname.lastname@example.org