We are sure you are as concerned as we are, with ensuring that goods sold from Fair Trade manufacturers truly meet those qualifications.
At the moment, the only line we sell that is Fair Trade is Style Coop Jewelry. We will be adding more brands in the future, and partnering with the Fair Trade Association to identify reputable suppliers.
Some pieces in our Style Coop jewelry line are not Fair Trade at all but handcrafted in the USA. Some are handmade by Monica, others by designer friends that have lent their production skills to the creation of pieces. Others instead are sourced from a Northern California manufacturer (woman-owned!), that has longstanding relationships with artisans in Bali and Thailand.
We wanted to share more about this so that you can have visibility into the behind the scenes...
Our manufacturer has been in business for many years, and from the beginning has negotiated fair prices for each style commissioned. In return, the silversmiths gave her their best work. She has an absolute commitment to equal rights for women. Fifty percent of managers at the production facility are women, a figure that is even more impressive in Indonesia than it would be in America. There is zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace. (Harassment can be a particularly difficult problem for divorced and widowed women in Balinese culture).
On average, her silversmiths in Bali earn double the minimum wage. All employees receive an extra month's wage as an end of year bonus. In addition, workers receive a food allowance for lunches. The company provides health care, with a doctor on call for staff medical needs. Expectant mothers receive education about prenatal care and safe deliveries. Mothers receive three months paid maternity leave or six months on half-pay. Their hospital fees are also covered.
Other benefits include life insurance and pension fund contributions. Employees have a total of 25 paid days off for vacation and religious holidays. (There are Hindu, Muslim and Christian employees, with each taking different holidays according to their traditions). Additional unpaid leave is granted if needed. The standard workweek is 40 hours.
Our manufacturer has been practicing fair trade since founding her company in 1983. Why aren’t they certified? In their experience, most Fair Trade organizations are set up to monitor worker collectives and don’t have a way to accommodate private companies with a strong interest in the social welfare of their employees. In addition, these organizations have steep annual fees. They believe the funds are better spent on benefits for their silversmiths than on administrative fees.
They are members, however, of the California Green Business network. Through their MicroLoans program, they have provided $232,000 in microloans to 700+ women artisans from 30 different countries. They have planted 134,000 trees through Trees for the Future, and have donated over $90k+ to domestic and international non-profits.