On the above, our artisan spent 12 hours handcrafting 30 cms of stone-dotted chains. In another 6+ hours, they were completed and transformed in a pair of earrings. The total artisanal fee paid is CHF 22 ie. around 1.21 Swiss Francs per hour.
In many mass production fashion factories across the globe, we would have paid a total of CHF 15-20 for completing all these pieces, which will be just about a standard work hour in Zurich, Switzerland. That comes out to be 0.47 Rappen an hour.
I think we can all agree, that this equation is not setting anyone up for success.
It is important for us to acknowledge that the price tags we see on items in many fashion retailers is problematic and so much is being compromised because of it.
The real issue is not that ethically made items are expensive, but instead that we have been made to believe that wearable items cost next to nothing to make and that there is no story behind them. It couldn't be less true and every item has a story because human hands somewhere made them.
Lhasa Mom with her son. She makes your jewellery.
The good news is, there is an endless amount of ways you can change this equation! Our favorite recommendation to change this pattern is by slowly and intentionally building a closet you feel connected with. For example, try to make purchases from people and businesses you know and care about, and/or instead of buying 5 things at once, pick up 1 or 2 that you feel you truly need or desire. And don't forget to ask about the story behind it.
These are the locations and stories behind our collections:
- Jewelry: close to Lhasa, Tibet. Empowering women by allowing them to work from home giving all the tools they need, and paid per each piece they make.
- Cashmere Stoles/Scarves: Kashmir, India. Giving direct work to men artisans that master weaving techniques.They continue to weave irrespective of sales, some are given salaries and others are paid 50% in advance to buy the yarn from us and the rest within 2 months of delivery.
- Baskets: Kodukoru Cooperative, Rwanda. Done in collaboration with All Across Africa, which manages the Kodukoru Cooperative with 64 women weaving baskets. This cooperative is a listed member of the Rwanda Cooperative Agency which is fair trade certified.
- Necessaires & throw pillows: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. We do this project in collaboration with Africa Tiss. The project provides income to local artisans and Malian artisans living as refugees in Burkina Faso.
What are some of your favorite ways to change this equation? We would love to hear.