The Parative Project

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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.