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We are inspired by the belief that we make a genuine contribution to our staff, our practitioners, our customers, our broader community, and the world. For us, this is about about consciousness: genuinely caring for each other, the community we live in, and the planet, by making considered, thoughtful decisions every step of the way. Does what we offer have a positive impact? Is the way we go about delivering what we offer mindful of the environment? Do we offer genuine, tangible benefits to our clients? These questions have led us to provide a safe and rewarding workplace, source products that we believe in, choose biodegradable/recycled packaging, and to source our power from an energy provider that uses renewables. We have an established and ongoing commitment to support many local businesses and charities. We also try to re-use where possible, and recycle what can’t be re-used.
Qi has been a natural evolution, inspired by the desire to give our clients an unparalleled level of customer service. The shop really was a response to having outgrown our market stall. Our stall was often three people deep, and we simply couldn’t get to everyone, let alone find the time to offer each person the informative, individualised service that had made us so successful in the first place. I came to realise that it was the quality of the contact, and genuine connections that we made with our clients, that I valued most. With this in mind, I wanted to set up a luxurious environment that allowed these relationships to be nurtured. Responding to what our clients ask for has, at times, led us in directions we had never originally envisioned. When we decided to incorporate the healing center, it was in response to the large number of inquiries. Customers were constantly asking us if we could recommend a practitioner, psychic, or where they could do workshops.
Throughout this natural evolution we have stayed true to the origins of the business. It has always been clear to me that Qi is a specialty store, offering award-winning customer service, and a world-class selection of crystals, jewellery, and books.
The Crystal Trade & Ethics: Where Do They Come From and How Are They Sourced?
Apart from their metaphysical and ornamental uses, crystals and minerals are integral to most of the technology we use today, including mobile phones. Given this, the above question is one that nearly all of us should be thinking more about. Unfortunately, at times, these precious resources are found only in areas that are politically unstable or impoverished (e.g. The Congo contains 80% of the world Columbite-tantalite, a mineral integral in the manufacture of mobile phones). Do we impoverish individuals on the ground further by withdrawing trade because of political unrest or unsavoury practices in the region?
The most honest answer is that it is often impossible to establish where a particular stone has come from, let alone how it came to market. Even large corporations lack the resources to trace every stone back to its source, and to investigate the circumstances surrounding how the stone has come to market.
Gemstones are sourced from all over the world, but more often than not, they find their way to the three large gem cutting centres of the world. Thailand, India, and China have been the powerhouses of the gem trade for thousands of years. Cutting and polishing stones, especially those of any value, is a skilled job, often handed down through generations. Taking years to master, this area of the trade is not usually something you would find a child employed in.
When sourcing stones overseas, both rough and polished, we are, more often than not, dealing with individual families who, just like my own family, have been in the trade for generations. In many cases we become friends with those we choose to build business relationships with. We are invited into their homes, and get to see, first-hand, their living and working conditions. We prefer this to dealing with large corporations, as it allows us to establish, first-hand, that we have ethical business relationships. We work with artisans to improve their quality of work, and life, in a number of ways. We will often offer to pay more than the local asking price for products and, where needed, we will educate small family businesses about concerns such as ventilation and safe working conditions. We will, at times, offer to buy them better equipment, or a computer to help them to grow their business, or improve their working conditions. For more than 20 years our business has supported two charities overseas so that their communities also benefit.
I once asked one of my local suppliers how they ensure the high quality of their work. He told me that, when overseas, he threatened recalcitrant workers’ families with physical harm, or threatened to burn their houses down. Needless to say, I no longer do business with this person! Having been in the business for over 30 years, I feel it is often about establishing trust with both suppliers and with clients alike. I have come to know that, given time and dealings, people and businesses tend to attract a certain reputation, good or bad. More often than not, it is a matter of choosing the type of people or businesses you align yourself with.
After growing up in the industry, this is the most honest and succinct answer I can offer.