Fair Flies

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I recently had a chance to chat with Chris Allen Director of Customer Engagement from Fair Flies, an ethically sourced company making fly tying materials like fur and brushes. We talked a bit about what makes their company so special and how they are giving back to impoverished countries. Below is a snippet from their company web page followed up with a Q&A with Chris.

Fair Flies is a registered Benefit Corporation in the state of Oregon. Why is this important? As a Benefit Corporation we place mission first in our operating agreements. It is the job of our board of directors to make sure that we are first about mission and second about financial returns. Sustainability is important to us be we want to do it in the right way. We believe in Trade instead of Aid and we use fly tying materials as our primary product to provide livable wages to marginalized people in compromised areas around the world but focused in SE Asia.
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Fair Flies is all about pairing your passion for fly fishing with our desire to make positive impacts with communities around the world. Our suppliers are committed to bettering the lives of the people they employ, be that with young people who need direction and purpose to stay out of crime, widows who need help providing for their children, victims of exploitation who need to be rehabilitated, or simply parents whose children are at risk of being sold into slavery. Obtaining regular orders from Fair Flies helps these suppliers retain employees and provide ongoing mentorship as they engage in the art of fly tying.
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It is equal parts proactive and reactive. By paying living wages up front, we are able to help in many ways. Families can stabilize because fathers can remain in country and mothers can move the family financially forward. This removes the temptation to send their children elsewhere for the hope of a better life, which often turns into some form of exploitation. We are also able to help victims of exploitation. They find a better way to live in a loving environment that provides a wonderful network of counseling and emotional support. Many come with stress disorders and need these supports to start a new life. This is our mission. These are the ones we care about and who your purchase supports.


What makes your materials different from the other materials out there on the market?

We call our brushes 5D for a reason. There are five ways in which our brushes are different than anything else on the market.

Dimension – Effective flies have perfect proportions. Fiber length, density, color, and placement affect the finished fly. We use up to five materials in each brush added in just the right quantity at just the right place. Our tiers are proud of their work and every brush goes through several quality control checkpoints. Every brush ensures 8-12 perfectly proportioned flies in a fraction of the time.

Deeper – With the perfect amount of materials in just the right proportion we can assure you that flies tied with 5D Brushes will find the perfect water column placement faster than other flies. This means more time fishing.

Dryer – By using all synthetic materials at just the right proportion flies tied with 5D Brushes shed water quicker than flies tied with natural fibers. This makes them easier to cast and allows them to land softer on the water.

Durable – 5D Brushes are hand tied using several strands of a proprietary stainless steel wire. They won’t rust or unravel. They are incredibly strong and won’t lose materials. In most cases these materials will outlast the hook you tie them on. And yet, our brushes are tied using post-consumer recycled materials that are far more biodegradable than typical mylar and silicone.

Doing Good – By supporting Fair Flies you make a real difference in the life of someone at risk of exploitation. Every tier we employ makes a living wage in Nepal, providing them with shelter, food, clean water, and education. Purchasing ethically sourced products has the power to change the trajectory of a family and shape an entire community.

•Explain a little bit more about helping out exploited populations and how you came up with the idea for it.

We’ve always had a passion for people. It’s where we started. We wanted to create a company built on the foundation of helping others. With our fly fishing background and the knowledge that commercial flies are often linked to exploitation we wanted to do things differently. A couple years ago we had the opportunity to start a tying group in Nepal, one of the most trafficked countries in the world. We quickly saw the opportunity before us to change lives. We vowed to provide opportunities to exploited and marginalized people, and to repay their contribution with a living wage.

•Are there any future plans for finished flys?

Yes. In fact, we started with flies so it is in our DNA. Our 5D Brushes were conceived as a way to make top quality flies more quickly. However, when we launched them at ICAST in 2017 they became an overnight success. We’ve spent the last year expanding that product line and improving the materials that go into them. We’ve been working with an excellent hook company to partner with on a line of flies and eventually jigs.

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•How do you go about choosing which impoverished communities  get chosen to make the products?

This is a difficult decision. Our roots began in Kenya. The Kibera slum is one of the largest in the world and people there desperately need opportunity and hope. Sadly, the corruption and logistical difficulties forced us to move operations. We found a couple key partners in Nepal and knew it was the right decision. Nepal also desperately needs opportunity and hope. The caste system denies basic rights to millions of people. We were able to establish relationships with organizations doing amazing work in Nepal.

•What’s next for Fair Flies?

We are continuing to innovate in the fishing industry. Our product depth with continue to grow with more patterns of 5D Brushes. We recently launched a line of synthetic fur called Fly Fur and we have a line of micro brushes that will launch soon. Fly Fur has twice the usable fibers as competing products and is longer and finer than anything else out there. We will soon launch our own line of flies and are working on a line of jigs as well.

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These materials are pretty amazing. You can feel good buying them knowing that you are helping people that just want to better themselves. Jeff Coffey, Owner of Fair Flies has really done something special. Making unique brushes and furs and touching peoples lives all over the world. Hats off to you and your company and I hope you guys are successful in many years to come.

Check out Fair Flies website below where you can read more and purchase your own materials.


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