Opting out of buying a cute product from a fast-fashion chain like Forever 21 and instead choosing to purchase an authentically made item crafted by artisans makes a substantial change for the planet at a small cost to you.
Conscious consumerism is an integral component to, as the saying goes, "putting your money where your mouth is." If you walk around with a feminist pin, have you ensured that the worker who made it was being fairly treated and paid in a safe environment? By supporting fair trade companies like the ones outlined below, your money goes directly towards preserving tradition and closing the gendered unemployment gaps.
Located in the West Bank in the Palestinian Territories, Darzah Designs is a certified fair-trade non-profit that empowers Palestinian female artisans through the sale of goods that feature their traditional embroidering technique, Tatreez.
There is a clear and careful intention in each piece of Tatreez embroidery-- every stitch has an underlying meaning. However, while beautiful and deeply meaningful, Tatreez is at risk of being lost.
To keep track of and to educate the larger public on the Palestinian values Tatreez represents, Darzah Designs has begun a global archive on their website in English and Arabic to ensure the preservation of this centuries-old tradition. Even if your Tatreez product was not bought from Darzah Designs, they encourage everyone who has a motif to upload it to their database. Or if you’re just curious about the meaning of the motifs, take a look at The Tatreez Archive here!
Through Darzah Designs, female artisans are given more opportunities to generate wealth, while also passing on the tradition of Tatreez. Tatreez is passed on through the generations from mother to daughter as they teach embroidery skills. Therefore, the women Darzah Designs employs are the only ones capable of protecting and accurately executing this delicate and beautiful tradition. Buying from them is a way to both appreciate and preserve culture, especially if you are an embroidery fan already!
Beyond just providing necessary employment, Darzah Designs fills a deep need to redistribute funds to women in their community, where the female unemployment rates in the West Bank range all the way to 63%. That’s more than half of the women in the community in need of more economic opportunities. As they grow larger with support from conscious consumers, they will be able to remedy the unemployment rate by hiring more artisans.
The small-business model also allows us to know the transparency of their similarly small supply chains. For example, we know that they source all their leather from a family-run factory in Khalil/Hebron. You’ll know all the little details when you hold these products in your hand, from where each part, large or small, is sourced to the centuries-old meaning the stitches hold.
Nu Market, like Darzah Designs, is also a fair-trade company. They serve female artisans in the southwestern region of China who similarly possess a skill set that is so unique that it can’t be bought anywhere else. Due to the rare circumstances of their towns being in extremely isolated locations, their traditions have been left untouched from outside influences.
The artisans of Nu Market craft gorgeous handbags following their traditional dying method: Indigo Batik- a natural fabric treatment that utilizes leaf fermentation, in combination with the addition of sugar and lime to the batch, that dyes the fabrics their signature blue. Like Tatreez, the practice of Indigo Batik is taught from mother to daughter. This tradition is a stark difference to fast fashion’s dying processes run awry with chemicals and pollutants.
Nu Market provides economic opportunities and a platform that previously did not exist to globally showcase these authentic goods and handiwork. By supporting authentic goods, your dollars are going directly to the women of the Yunnan and Guizhou region, members of the Miao Chinese ethnic minority.
We are reassured of Nu Market’s commitment to these female artisans because of their continued partnerships. 20% of all profits go back to their partners for continued education. That is so much more than you'll usually get for a stylish bag.
We see another palpable difference to other large companies in the transparency they have when it comes to their workers. You know who made your bag; in fact, they even have a whole page on their website introducing you to their artisans and their aspirations. You know exactly who you are funding and where that money will be used down the line. Check out their three featured leather bags here.
GlobeIn focuses on supporting artisans around the world-- it is not linked to a single region like the other two companies previously discussed in this article. As the name suggests, they have partnerships with artisans around the globe in over fifty countries. They offer a customizable subscription box that has unique artisan-made products that are guaranteed to be made ethically. You can find the box best suited and curated to your needs, whether you’re ready to host a party or cozy up for a night in.
Like Darzah Designs and Nu Market, they provide employment to allow women to have more economic freedom and a digital platform to sell their goods outside of just their region. This accounts for additional economic growth and global appreciation for handcrafted goods that are often imitated by artists who are not of the original culture.
GlobeIn has a thorough impact report posted and has accounted for a million hours of work in just one year. That’s a million hours of fair wage pay to those who more than deserve it. Furthermore, in just three years, GlobeIn has invested 3.5 million dollars into its community partnerships.
A focal point of GlobeIn’s mission is elevating often silenced worker’s voices. They do this through community and economic support, on top of featuring their names and stories. Artisans receive economic support from GlobeIn’s monthly artisan fund as well as through the product making process and 3-part payment plan.
With GlobeIn, the artisan has a direct say in pricing and even brainstorming the perfect product for you. Payment is separated into three chunks so the artisan has the immediate and necessary funds for production, shipping, and then finally profit. This payment plan is both preemptive in terms of its protection of the artisan’s funding and integral to the growth and recognition of this artisan’s business.
Aside from all the benefits GlobeIn provides to its partners, this company also proves beneficial to the planet through its guarantee on materials that have a gentler impact on the world. All materials in the products that GlobeIn sources range from sustainably sourced animal byproducts, upcycled materials, to natural materials. I would recommend starting by taking a look at their curated shops.
The Bottom Line: Where Your Tag Was Made Matters
Whether you choose to support these fair trade companies by giving them a follow on Instagram or by purchasing their products, you can rest easy knowing that you chose authentic goods that guarantee the fair treatment of the female artisan who made it.