When I founded Fabricadabra in 2008, I knew that I wanted to work with small female cooperatives that paid living wages and empowered female craftspeople to financially care for their children, My reason was and is that these women are typically marginalized and  financially responsible for taking care of their own children and relatives’ children. I never drafted a sustainability statement. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

It has become de riguer  that every company outline what they do to preserve natural resources, give back to communities, close the loop and whatever else that they can state that seems thoughtful and enlightened about a sense of environmental stewardship. I read many of these sustainability statements and most seem hollow or contrived. The larger corporations hire Chief Sustainability Officers. Some are effectuating real change.

Target impressed we with its bold initiative to require that all of their suppliers remove questionable chemicals from personal care products and textiles by 2020. Soon after, other major corporations  put forth similar initiatives. Target has since adopted many other admirable goals related to sourcing and packaging. When large retailers force their suppliers to reformulate their products, it benefits everyone because the suppliers will  not carry one inventory for that one corporation and another for the rest. They will reformulate and distribute that reformulated product to all of their retailers.

Smaller companies can be more agile. I happened upon a company through a great blog named AOW Handmade  which connects global artisans with buyers. Annie Waterman highlighted an apparel company based in Australia that works with a group of female artisans in India. I was beyond impressed with the company’s heartfelt commitment to true humanitarianism. Most of these artisans are mothers and they can bring their children to work when there is no school. This is just one example of the thoughtfulness of Carlie Ballard.    In the drop down menu under ‘About Us’ there is a link to ‘Sustainability’.  It is mind blowing when compared with the now obligatory sustainability statements that we read on a regular basis. Here is the link.

Below is a copy and paste to the beginning of their sustainability statement. Read it in its entirety. It reinforced my belief in the goodness of womankind. I’ve heard the phrase “The Boy’s Club” for my entire life. Carlie Ballard makes me want to be part of its “Girl’s Club”. Beyond what you read below, they use only handwoven organic fabrics, mindful packaging, deadstock fabric and encourage minimizing laundering. This company gets sustainability and sisterhood right!

Sustainability

Manufacturing 
 
Carlie Ballard garments are made in a small workshop in Lucknow India. offering the dignity of employment, fair pay and excellent working conditions to a talented bunch of artisans. You can read all about our workshop partner here. In Australia it is called Zenana Women, but in India they had to use a more Indian name for business purposes which is Appropriate Improvements Fashion. Oh India! 
 
All of the profits from the workshop are dedicated to growing its capacity to employ, train and support the families of the women it has been established to assist.  
 
The team love to giggle at work, they gossip, eat cake, drink chai, listen to the radio, sing and share their stories like any other workplace. They work normal hours, have a weekend, have a lunch break and have a wonderful support network. 

Working Conditions at our Cut Make and Trim workshop:

  • 5 x 8-hour days a week for the standard salary, not 6 as is the norm. When a 6thday is worked they are paid overtime.
  • Flexible working hours, especially important to women with family obligations
  • Interest-free loans
  • Financial support for any training/education undertaken
  • Paid study leave
  • Literacy classes during working hours
  • Assistance and support with personal or family problems, including health problems, led from the top down by all-female management team
  • Children welcome after school, in school holidays or when ill
  • Encouraged to train to further their skills within the workshop
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