Welcome to October! When I found out that October is Fair Trade Month, I had to share this with you. It is dear to the Scooch mission of spreading Mindful Kindness.
The title of this blog Be Connected to What You Wear is from a company called Mata Traders. It’s always great to find unique items that show your distinct style and personality. What makes the difference is when the artisans are compensated and treated fairly for their work. You learn the story of each item when you make a purchase with a purpose at Scooch.
Why Fair Trade?
Every purchase supports something. Fair trade exists so we can support what’s fair.
So, “what is the purpose of Fair Trade Month?” you ask.
Fair Trade Month aims to raise awareness of the reasons why fair trade is important, and to promote buying and using socially and commercially sustainable, fair trade products in place of commodities which may harm the environment, the economy, communities and disadvantaged individuals.
Mata Traders, which Scooch is featuring in honor of Fair Trade Month writes, “Together, let's ‘fashion a better world' by embracing slow style, celebrating handmade artistry, and being connected to the women who make our products.” Mata Traders partners with several fair trade organizations in India and Nepal that train and employ hundreds of artisans in marginalized communities, with a focus on gender equality and empowering women.
The artisan cooperatives that Mata Traders work with, help end the cycle of poverty for members and their families. Healthcare, paid maternity leave, retirement pensions and daycare are all part of the membership package. Social workers on staff assist the artisans in addressing their personal needs, from opening a bank account to situations of domestic violence to dealing with HIV/AIDS. There are programs such as: literacy classes, computer training, and regular workshops on topics like hygiene, nutrition and parenting. This education really makes a difference.
Co-op member Sidhama never rode buses because she could not read the bus numbers. After going to the co-op, she travels around Mumbai by bus without problem. The co-ops empower the women to navigate their own lives, quite literally!
Fair trade is best known for producers getting a fair price for their goods. The women at the Mata Trader co-ops earn a fair wage that exceeds the local minimum wage. They are paid per piece so the amount each aartisan makes varies. The benefit of this system is the flexibility it allows in terms of hours (some women work part-time or from home) and skill level (slower sewers aren’t fired or penalized for low productivity, as they would in a factory). The women exercise control in determining the piece rate, and as the cooperatives are worker-owned organizations, they receive a share of the profits.
Empowering women to have a voice, create friendships and become artisans who make wages that sustain their family is needed worldwide. It’s supporting community through commerce.
Here is a glimpse of some of the pieces by Mata Traders that will be at Scooch A Mi Boutique this Fall.
Enjoy, and know how much you help other women when you make a purchase with a purpose.