The Parative Project

this flag won't change your life, but it will change someone else's

ethical

a trip to a little place I like to call the mall

Drew Oxley

 If you follow this blog you probably know for the past 6 months we have been trying to shop ethically... (side note: "ethically" has become such a trendy word, how we like to define it is that the company or brand knows where their clothes are being manufactured and can guarantee that their manufacturing facilities are practicing safe and fair labor laws).

Over the weekend we went walking through the mall and we weren't really seeing anything from the brands we are familiar with and know we can shop. Walking through the mall when you are an ethical shopper is like one of those horses pulling a carriage, the kind with the blinders on the side of their eyes, but minus the pulling a carriage part. You don't want to spend a bunch of time looking at things you simply couldn't buy if you wanted to. Well, I had a weak moment and I peeked around my blinders. I saw this shirt from a brand that I know isn't strict about their supply chain. I was just setting myself up for failure because then I continued to try it on :) OOPS! It was so perfect and I would've worn it everyday. I really wanted to buy it. Drew just looked at me like why are you doing this to yourself? Luckily, he was there because if I was alone I'd most likely be sporting that shirt right now, and boy would I look good in it, just kidding, we would've talked about it when I got home and I would have returned it.

So the point is, I didn't get the shirt and I walked away super bummed about it and not excited about what we have chosen to do this year. I walked away so annoyed that I can't even buy a shirt that I really like not because we don't have the money (you better believe I've been saving up!!) but because the people who make it don't value their workers. It may sound dramatic to you, I couldn't get a shirt, whats the big deal? Let me tell you what the big deal is.. It's that many women in the world don't have the opportunity to be mad about buying or not buying a shirt because they are forced into labor and have no fair options or the choice to leave. The other part of the big deal is that huge corporations don't care enough about the lives of these women to guarantee them safe and fair labor, instead they take advantage of them and turn a blind eye. If I wasn't having enough of a cow the thing that tops it off is that WE EAT IT UP. We love it. We brag about the cheap deals we get without considering at whose expense we are getting a deal.

Something has to change in the fashion industry. I think choosing whether or not you buy something depending on the company's labor practices will make a difference. I'd like to believe that if we start shopping places like Everlane or PeopleTree, instead of places that can't and won't give information about their manufacturing practices, it will make companies change their ways of treating employees. I don't know, am I crazy for thinking this? That we could single handedly take down the man? Ha, I'M KIDDING. But I know money talks. And I think when we (ME TOO, I'm so guilty of it) throw our money at brands who don't care about labor practices we essentially say fair labor isn't important to us. 

We pick the things that the media cares to talk about it. When we turn our attention to the Kardashians and Fantasy Football that is what they are going to cover. We as the public pick the things that are popular or cool. When we start saying things aren't cool and we want change, businesses have to listen or they won't last. We as the public have to engage and search and care about things that matter. That is when we will have a large affect. 

I guess what I learned isn't to not go in the mall. What I'm learning is that we all have a voice. And how we spend or don't spend our money is a way to use that voice, I think its one of the most effective ways. We must remember that until all of us are free, not one of us is free. 

 

 

 

little dreamer boy

Drew Oxley

The title has nothing to do with the post other than that all we talk about is dreams. I am not a boy but I do like Christmas songs and the weather is cool enough to wear a sweater, so never mind its the perfect title!

After launching our Dream to Do series I had a noteworthy conversation with a friend. She mentioned a girl who talked about how our generation is all about following your dreams but doesn't recognize staying in their jobs for years or mundane tasks like chopping food for their kids to eat. I think its a good point and a conversation worth having.

And it seems like it keeps coming up... (Our family is so cool we are STILL watching Survivor.) This season it is Millenials vs Gen X, so obviously the idea of dream chasing was practically all Jeff Probst said when describing the millennial tribe... That Millennials don't want to work hard, they only want to dream. During the first episode my dad commented, "I wasn't working for a dream, I was working for a paycheck." These conversations started to make me feel embarrassed to be working for a dream. Embarrassed that we started this blog that is about dreaming. Embarrassed that we are chasing a dream we have. But I keep coming back to this notion that we must take action in order to see change. 

I stumbled upon a quote that resonated with me about how we at Parative see dreaming. It said, "Act as if what you do makes a difference because IT DOES." This is why we dream. This is why we are starting a business that helps women stay out of trafficking. This is why we shop ethically. This is why mothers chop vegetables to feed to their families or some even have kids in the first place. This is why my dad worked hard to provide for us. This is why families adopt children. This is why people do the things they do. We aren't saying a dream has to be outrageous and change the trajectory of your life. We are saying act with purpose and intentionality. If you have an idea search it out. Don't brush it under the rug because it could be too hard or too much work. Sniff it out. See where it leads. Have vision and take action steps to accomplish it. 

I don't think going to work everyday should give you shits and giggles. Being a hard worker and tilling the soil is hard and takes discipline and doesn't mean you are going to love every minute of it. But I think to have purpose in our work is valuable. So find it. Figure out why you are doing what you're doing and tell people about it. Inspire them to do the same.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. When we type these we are really just shooting the breeze with the world wide web or having coffee with Al Gore. However you want to put it. And I will say I got pretty honest with Al today.

 

Disclaimer: Is shits and giggles a good thing? I've heard that saying a ton, but it actually sounds really terrible!

 

 

Why we love where our goods are made

Drew Oxley

We are so excited to be doing a 3 part series with Freestate and bonJOY! When all three of our businesses decided to collaborate we wanted to obviously do a giveaway (everyones favorite word!!) but we also wanted to inspire anyone who is starting their ethical journey. We wanted to bring you guys some valuable content and information on where ethical goods start and how they end up in the hands of you (or anyone who buys them). This week between our businesses we will discuss 3 things that contribute to effectively fostering ethical business.  Tonight we are going to touch on the production side of ethical fashion.

With Drew's recent trip to India he had the opportunity to see the production facilities that Parative partners with first hand. The production facilities we work with have a lot of depth because they not only value fair labor but they choose to hire and train women that were previously at risk or on the streets being trafficked.

In May, I went to India to visit one of our partnering production units. I got to spend a lot of time with the women and staff, as we were with them from 9-5 everyday. During the week, I got to see the culture of the workplace. The women are more sisters than coworkers. That week, the room was consistently full of laughter, questions about America and snow, and tea drinking. LOTS of tea. It was over 100 degrees and they all wanted hot tea. Needless to say, I stuck mostly to the ice water.

These women had been through some traumatic times. Even with all the smiles I saw, the women are still processing their past. But they're growing. A few women each morning were encouraged to sing a solo to help build their confidence. At one point, we had a pizza party. One woman, who was recently hired, was hesitant to eat. But with the nudge of a few others, she joined in with the rest of us. There was one particular instance that really sticks out to me still, and reconfirmed that we're working with some really good people.

One of the days, I was talking with one of the supervisors. She reminded me a lot of my own mom, very caring and sweet. She told me when one of the girls had been hired she was a natural at sewing. She quickly became one of the top artisans in the production unit. Her newly found sewing skills were growing, but the pain from her past would keep a grip on her as she would get frustrated and lose her temper with the others.

This situation called for a hard conversation. The two supervisors sat down with this woman and helped her process what needed to change. Basically in this conversation, they told her that this was a job and she needed to act appropriately. There was an understanding that these outbreaks weren't beneficial to her or the team. That conversation concluded with the proposal that she had one month to control her anger, or she would be dismissed. 

Fast forward a month after that conversation. She did it! Through lots of one on one conversations with her supervisor, she had worked through several of her trigger points. And as time went on she grew in her patience and leadership. She's now preparing to be a line leader, the first job promotion the women can receive. The line leader supervises five other women, and fields any questions they may have. This is an important position as this allows the tailor to focus on his work and not have to stop whenever there's a question. 

The "what" of this story is a great  example of redemption. The "how" of this story is where the magic is. Over the past year, I became familiar with a model that shows four different types of relationship approaches.

1. Low invitation/Low challenge

2. High invitation/Low challenge

3. Low invitation/High challenge

4. High invitation/High Challenge

Throughout the week I spent in that production unit, I knew they had established an environment of high invitation and high challenge. There weren't any "drill sergeants" demanding the women to work harder, and there wasn't a vibe where the staff was stepping on eggshells so they wouldn't offend anyone. What I saw was love. Real love. They were meeting the women where they were and helping heal, grow, and become who they were made to be.

We are thankful to be partnered with manufacturing facilities that are this dedicated to their employees. These aren't the requirements that make a brand ethical or fair trade but it is what good business looks like. It makes you think, who is making my clothes and how are they being treated? It makes you question where you buy from and how you do business. 

Thanks for reading and following along. You can enter the giveaway we are doing with Freestate and bonJOY below! Just leave your email and you will be entered. The winner will be chosen on Monday Sept 26. Be sure to check out their blogs as they finish out what the other stages of ethical fashion look like.