Scott James, BBA ’94

Founder | Fair Trade Sports

When it comes to winning, Scott James enjoys helping others succeed. Whether it is a father of four striving to provide for his family in an impoverished country, or a single mother caring for her children, James wants to see them triumph in the game of life. And using his love of sports and marketing, he’s equipping them with jobs and income to overcome adversity.

Both passionate advocates about fighting child labor, James and his wife Susan (BA ’93) established Fair Trade Sports, the first sports equipment company in North America to produce a full-line of eco-friendly Fair Trade sports balls. With a business model resembling that of the company Newman’s Own, all after-tax profits from Fair Trade Sports are donated to children’s charities.

“Fair Trade means adults -not children -are paid a living wage and ensured healthy working conditions when producing a product such as soccer balls (or tea, or bananas, or apparel),” he said. “It is a third-party certification system that ensures a ‘fair trade’ for the producers of a product. It’s a good start to fix the unsustainable economic system we’ve built over the past several hundred years.”

At Baylor, James earned a degree in Information Systems and Marketing; however, his entrepreneurial spirit evolved after working in high tech corporate marketing positions for several years.

“I like the ability to affect change in a very direct and immediate way through entrepreneurial efforts,” he said. “You can still accomplish positive social change in large corporations, sometimes on a massive scale given the size of their marketing budgets, but it takes longer.”

James said Baylor’s emphasis on ethics and leadership helped create the foundation of his company. “It is the core of the ethos on which I’ve built this company,” he said. “You cannot have a truly ethical company, or exhibit true servant leadership, without considering the human and environmental impact created by every aspect of your company. Baylor professors like Dr. Chewning and Dr. Carini taught me that.”

Fair Trade Sports is based on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, with products manufactured in Pakistan. James said his sports balls have landed in the hands of smiling, budding athletes all over the world, as far away as Africa and Southeast Asia.

Ultimately, James does not want to just run a business-he wants his company to be a catalyst in the movement for other socially responsible brands. James hopes to positively impact lives of people he may never meet, while serving as an example to his children.

“I want my children to grow up seeing firsthand what ‘work’ is, particularly as it relates to using business skills to make the world a better, more sustainable, more positive place,” he said. “Work can include making a living and making a difference.”

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