This past September we had the opportunity to travel to India to spend time with our suppliers, their families and employees.  For us, this business has always been about more than a 'brand."  We wanted to create a company that allowed our customers to create an impact with each purchase.  When you click check out and bring home a baby blanket, comfy throw or cozy wrap, your purchase is creating demand for organic cotton, supporting a factory that adheres to the strictest social and employment standards, and supporting environmental stewardship in production.   

While we wish that we could take every customer to India to see this impact first hand, we figured that visiting and sharing these stories would be the next best thing.  

There is no way to capture our visit in one blog post, and I'm certainly not going to try.  Rather, our hope is to use our stories, photos and videos from the September trip to share pieces of your impact.  We wanted to start today with three of our biggest lessons learned.

1. At our core, all people want to be seen, recognized and appreciated.  

One of our favorite memories was meeting the gentleman who oversees fabric cutting at our woven manufacturer.  He's been doing his job for over 10 years and he's really good at what he does.  You could tell that the other workers respected his abilities and considered him the best at his craft.  You could also see his pride in our interest of his job and the accolades of his supervisor and co-workers.  Creating jobs and supporting factories where all people are able to feel pride in what they do is essential to the human experience and we loved being able to see it first hand!

2. Women are at the heart of textile production in India.  Buying ethical textiles is key to supporting women there.  

Only 28.5% of women in India participate in the formal labor force.  The textile and garment manufacturing sector is critical to supporting women in the workforce, BUT it is critical that these jobs are safe and pay fairly.  Supporting GOTS certified textiles and clothing and understanding the labor practices of the brands you support is essential in supporting women worldwide.   We also look to see how women are included in the management team with our manufacturing partners.  From being an owner, to being given the opportunity to manage accounts and finances, we were proud to see how women are integrated into the highest level of responsibility with each company.  

3. The regulatory requirements required for us to be a GOTS certified company are worth the effort.

As a young business, we are often frustrated with the amount of paperwork and cost associated with regulatory compliance.  Spending time with the people behind our product was a reminder of WHY we do it.  Inspections ensure working conditions are safe and fair wages are being paid.  Testing ensures that harmful chemicals aren't in the products you buy for your family and that our craftspeople aren't exposed to their risks.  

This can also apply to us at shoppers.  We'll be the first to admit that as busy moms and business owners, we will often pull up amazon or head to a big box store out of convenience.  At times, this is what needs to happen.  But oftentimes, we have the time and energy to do more research.  How are the products we are buying being made?  Is the supply chain committed to ethical practices?  If we don't know, we need to ask!  Simply calling customer service and asking these questions sends a message.

Next week, we'll be sharing more information about our lot number program, including how our visit to India spurred our motivation for the project.   

Jessica Diehl