le commerce équitable

Ah, to be a business woman, and an ethical one at that. Not an easy task. When you’re combining cost of materials, labour, import, taxes, factory fees, wages, shipping, marketing and creating affordable clothing there is little room to breathe. We are wearing the many hats again, figuring out how to go about our business, nestled into the complex textile industry inPort-au-Prince. We’d have it no other way. This experience is so rich and revealing.

We left off with the challenges presented within INDEPCO, fabricated by the tangled pursuits of free enterprise within the world market. The majority of business models make winners out of business owners and impoverish the workers along the assembly line of production. It is an exhausting situation that needs new life to breathe into it the changes we need to see. The air is changing. There is much movement…

Hope has lifted our spirits again. INDEPCO has the flexibility to work fair wages into its factory model. Our meeting with Hans, the founder of INDEPCO, and Sael, the chief tailor and production manager for our purchase order, brought needed clarification to our production cost structure. The sewers and tailors that work on our order will be paid an ethical wage. We are encouraged by Hans’s enthusiasm to make ethical business possible. We continue to learn so much about his struggles as a founder of INDEPCO, a blog we will write separately for it is a battle that explains a lot of the industry’s challenges.

Local Buttons has drawn up a contract with INDEPCO that outlines the production process, monitoring and quality control of the order, and administration of payment. The contract was developed in consultation with Hans and Sael. Without their input we could not have accurately allocated the hours required to produce our garments. After several meetings…en Francais…en Englais…et Kreyol (this part we listened in with smiles…we’ll speak it next soon!)…we’ve completed a document and established a process the success of which will be evaluated in a second purchase order that we will make before we depart forToronto. Very exciting!

Our vests are not simple garments to create, and some require greater technical skill than others. “The Military Vest” is our most intricate design (it looks fabulous might we add!). Cutting its many pattern pieces for its assembly takes time as it is sourced from the disassembled pepe and then sewn and pressed. We have taken the time to appreciate the effort that goes into clothing that is made well to last long. It is appropriate to make this vest proportionately more expensive to compensate for the added labour and professionalism. You can believe that when we shop in the ethical fashion market we will consider if the quality of the tailoring is factored into the price. Too often prices are artificially inflated as soon as they are considered to be “ethical”.

There is so much to learn about pricing ethical fashion fairly. Similar to Faire Trade coffee and organic cotton for example prices can be very miss leading…

We plan to learn more…and share the info;)

 Anne types like crazy as Sway sews herself crazy…

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