Fair Trade and Threads by Nomad

January 17, 2017

First let me say, I am all about fair compensation. I check labels on my clothing and many of the food items in my pantry, and source as much as possible from small businesses whose products and their origins I can trace. It is why we said from the outset that rather than trying to get something for nothing, we would pay our tailors and artisans a fair compensation for their work. And as someone who has been raising awareness of human trafficking for the past 10 years, I am all about fair trade. But what is fair trade?

Fair trade is a way of doing business in which workers and artisans are fairly compensated for what they produce no matter where in the world they live. There are independent agencies that validate a manufacturer is practicing fair trade, but we do not operate on that scale. However, we are doing what we can in other ways. For example, with our Togolese artisans, we are working in cooperation with ex-pats living in Togo whom we have known personally for almost 30 years to ensure our artists are being paid fairly for their work. When one of these artisans sent us his initial quote, our ex-pat friends told us it should be more. We gladly gave him more than he originally asked for in order to maintain fairness. Another one of our artists said she really did not know how much to charge. We explained to her the wage scale for work in her area and agreed on a price that equaled her ability.

There is a caveat in all of this though. We have acquired a number of our fabrics from outside sources--especially for this first collection. Our imprinted wax cotton with West African motifs is created for the most part in Indonesia. In fact, few if any of these same fabrics sold in West Africa are actually made there; most originate from Indonesia. (Take a look at this article for a history of the wax prints.) The silk pieces one of our artists uses for creating our scarves are from China. It is not possible for us to validate that the supply chain and the manufacturing of the cloth is all done using fair trade ideals. That said we are in conversation with others in Asia to see how we can source our silk in ways so that we can be more certain that fairness is observed. We will continue to work in every way possible to purchase fairly and provide fair wages. We will commit to transparency with you, our clients and as we move forward with future collections we will go to great lengths to have our fabric custom-created.

Threads by Nomad wants to provide American women with the opportunity to celebrate diversity through design with our beautiful, one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories. We are working to provide jobs for refugees here in the United States and paying wages that reflect their ability and experience. We are providing micro-enterprise opportunities for artisans overseas compensating them with sustainable purchasing prices.

We are grateful to each of you for helping us make this possible!

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