By Miko Takama
The pandemic has been tough on many businesses, and social enterprises have not been exempt from this hardship. You may or may not know that the pandemic has been financially straining on many sustainable fashion brands. Many have had to seek governmental assistance just to stay afloat during these times.
Now more than ever, buying goods and investing in social enterprises is extremely important. It would be a shame to see ethically driven brands miss out because of the pandemic.
So to help out, I have listed a few social enterprises you can support below.
What does Social Enterprise mean?
Before we delve into who you can support, it’s important to understand the relevance of social enterprises within society.
Social enterprise businesses put the interest of people and the planet first and they exist to address social and environmental issues. These businesses are driven by a social or environmental mission and reinvest profits into creating more positive social change.
Why is the work of Social Enterprises Important within the Fashion Supply Chain?
It is not just retailers that are affected by the outbreak of Covid-19. The economic uncertainty of the pandemic has led brands to cancel their orders. It has led to garment factory closures and millions of workers losing their jobs.
Gender-based violence is common in factories with women reporting cases of sexual and violent abuses. These women often have children at an early age, and are the financial resources for their families.
Eradicating poverty and supporting the positive futures of women are crucial for building a fair and sustainable fashion industry.
Among this, there are still brands doing their best to remain ethical. Here are 2 of our favourite brands, Nata Y Limón and Outland Denim, that are exemplifying doing business to make positive changes and empower females.
Nata Y Limón is a brand founded by Marlene Walter and Anne Schneider. This German brand creates timeless fashion essentials & home decór for conscious consumers by partnering with Mayan weavers in Guatemala. These women carry beautiful tradition and extensive knowledge of centuries-old weaving technique and design.
What’s the purpose behind Nata Y Limón?
Both founders had a passion and desire for change. They both quit their jobs and left to volunteer and support various NGOs in Guatemala and Costa Rica.
Most descendants of the former Mayans now make up about half of all Guatemalan residents. Many live in rural areas and are isolated from the rest of society. Work is rare and poverty is common for around 80% of indigenous people. As a result of this, 8 out of 10 children suffer from chronic malnutrition and desire better living conditions.
Aware of these issues, Marlene and Anne decided to put their energy into something meaningful and merge their visions into a social brand.
What does Nata Y Limón do to help?
The brand incites female empowerment by making their craft a sustainable source of income.
Their Heroine bags support women through fair wages (based on the data of the Global Living Wage Coalition), paid vacation days, and guaranteed monthly incomes. Their workers make double, in some cases triple the previous income while reducing working hours (20hour a week).
The products carry the awareness that the power to change the global societies lies in each and everyone of us. The traditional patterns are defined as ‘Heritage Designs’ and are the cultural intellectual property of the women weavers artisan community.
Nata Y Limón also donates 1% of each sold product to Amazon Watch, an NGO that is primarily concerned with the protection of the Amazon rainforest and the human rights of its indigenous people.
By supporting these women, the brand preserves life, and highlights the importance of living ethically.
The brand believes in the evolution of the individual and collective human consciousness. They create positive changes by establishing an understanding and empathic approach as a new norm.
Here are some of our favourites from Nata y Limon, would you join us to support this fantastic brand with a substantial impact?
Outland Denim is a social enterprise founded by James Bartle. Many celebrities such as Meghan Markle have supported this brand, however, what is more remarkable is the founders purpose and journey towards creating Outland Denim.
What is the purpose behind Outland Denim?
Founded as an avenue for the liberation of the sex trafficking trade in Cambodia, Outland Denim trains and employs and helps vulnerable women.
The desire to create Outland Denim was born when James (the founder of Outland Denim) traveled to Asia with an anti-trafficking group. On his trip, he learnt that once a female has been rescued from sex trafficking, a sustainable carreer path is vital for securing her future.
Therefore, the brand was born as an avenue for the training and career progression of women who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, sex trafficking.
What does Outland Denim do to help?
75% of Outland Denim employees come from exploitative situations or from a position of vulnerability that may lead them to being exploited. The brand acknowledges this and does its best to provide a safe and dignified working environment for these women.
Outland Denim’s staff also receive education programs in identifying human trafficking and notifying support services. The manufacturing process allows these young women to operate from home, in their remote villages, with pedal press sewing machines and hot-coal irons.
They also operate two centralised, stand-alone, sustainable production facilities in Cambodia.
The denim market is worth 66 billion dollars, but the human trafficking industry is worth 150 billion dollars. These numbers show you how big of an issue human trafficking is and how massive the industry is.
Outland Denim makes it a mission to present these facts to the public within their digital campaigns.
On top of their social implications, Outland Denim is a certified B-Corporation, they are legally required to consider the impact of their business on their workers, customers, community and the environment.
Every garment produced by Outland Denim is made with the intention to fulfil their social and environmental commitment to create positive change.
Their unique business model proves that the fashion industry can be the solution to some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental issues.
Here are our favourite from Outland Denim:
The World Needs Us Now
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on more than 476 million indigenous people around the world. Before the current pandemic, indigenous people already faced entrenched inequalities, stigmatisation and discrimination. They are now further affected by the pandemic, due to closures of markets.
Human trafficking issues have also worsened since the outbreak of the pandemic. The lockdowns and social distancing have made human trafficking harder to detect. It is estimated that around 100,000 garment workers in Cambodia are now out of work and might be at risk of human trafficking.
Whenever you are about to buy something, ask yourself, “where did this come from?” and “where will this money go?”. Will the company use the revenue to pay fair wages and support workers or just goes into the company owner’s pocket?
The global apparel market is worth 1.5 trillion dollars in 2020. With both market share and cultural capital, the fashion industry has the potential to inspire a great change. As a consumer, you have a great power to change the fashion industry just by being a little big conscious of your impact. Because without you, no company can survive.
James Bartle advises us to be more conscious about things that we buy and support brands that are moving in the right direction.
Everytime you purchase a product from brands like Nata Y Limón and Outland Denim, you are making a big difference in people’s lives and our future.
If you are looking to buy Christmas presents, consider buying from social enterprise. Do you have any favourite Social Enterprise? Leave your comments below.
This article may contain some affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, KeiSei Magazine receives a small percentage of the sale price, or some brands may have paid a small fee to be featured. We only recommend brands that match our sustainable and ethical criteria and that we truly believe in.