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Part 4 of “Fair Trade from the Seed to the Consumer”: The Retailer & Consumer

In recognition of Fair Trade Month, Marigold Fair Trade Clothing has a new blog series entitled: “Fair Trade From the Seed to the Consumer.” Our beautiful, fashion-forward products represent a completely fair trade supply chain, and you can be assured that from the cotton seed to the finished product, your Marigold purchase is helping to transform the lives of workers and t heir communities. Holding true to our value of transparency, and in an effort to educate and advocate for the Fair Trade model, we are opening up, and explaining, our complete value chain to the consumer public.

In Part 4 (and the final installment of this series), we will explore the fourth major link in the supply chain, and the one that you are probably most familiar with: Distribution & The Consumer.

In addition to selling directly to our consumers at events around the Seattle, Washington, area, and through our online catalog and shopping cart, we have the privilege of working with an amazing set of 60+ retailers across the country. Marigold is based on a wholesaler model, and so we really rely on our retail partners to spread the word about fair trade and distribute our products to the end consumer. We love working in close collaboration with stores to develop new products that suit the needs of their customers, and it is our goal to make the decision to buy fair trade an easy one!

In order to reach the biggest audience we can, staff at Marigold frequently speak at colleges, schools, community groups, festivals and events to share our story and spread the word about fair trade. We are also often involved in ethical fashion shows and stay involved in the local and global fair trade community through our social media sites. By staying connected to the movement, we can speak directly to retailers who may be entertaining the idea of offering ethical fashion and housewares, but we can also engage in a direct dialogue with you, our consumer. Our distributors are essential to our success, but we also love to hear directly from our consumers. You can tell us what’s hot, what’s not, and offer general feedback on our products and what you would like to see Marigold offer next.

We recently spoke to a Marigold supporter who was a winner of one of our blog contests, and then went on to order our beautiful Paisley Skirt. Here is what she had to say:

“I buy fair trade because I believe that I’m making a difference in the global community and enjoy influencing business and consumer trends toward the greater good. Because I care about what I buy, it’s great to find a central location where I can freely shop without worrying about where the products were made or under what kind of conditions.  At Marigold I have the assurance that everything is fair trade and can be confident that everything I buy is making the world a better place.  Marigold has a lot of options and some really great designs, and I especially love the paisley skirt – it’s very comfortable, flattering, and also very versatile so that I can wear it to work with more formal accessories, or for play with sandals.”

At the core of Marigold’s values is the idea of transparency, which is exactly what inspired us to open up our supply chain to the public with this blog series. We consider ourselves to not only be a fair trade clothing designer and wholesaler, but also an organization that spurs discussion, innovation and change. We want our retailers and consumers to feel engaged with Marigold, and know that you are playing a large part in furthering the fair trade movement.

The conventional garment industry, and what we have come to accept as normal and the law of the land, is one of secrecy and an impossibly long and convoluted supply chain that makes it difficult for consumers to know the story of the product. Marigold’s business model turns this antiquated system on its head by giving the consumer complete insight into the production process. We have no secrets, and because of this, when you purchase a Marigold product, you can be sure that you are getting the complete, honest, and fair history of the item.



October 26, 2010 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Part 2 of “Fair Trade From the Seed to the Consumer”: Cloth Production & Block Printing

In recognition of Fair Trade Month, Marigold Fair Trade Clothing has a new blog series entitled: “Fair Trade From the Seed to the Consumer.” Our beautiful, fashion-forward products represent a completely fair trade supply chain, and you can be assured that from the cotton seed to the finished product, your Marigold purchase is helping to transform the lives of workers and their communities. Holding true to our value of transparency, and in an effort to educate and advocate for the Fair Trade model, we are opening up, and explaining, our complete value chain to the consumer public.

In Part 2 of our series, we will explore the second major link in the Marigold supply chain: Cloth Production & Block Printing

The organic cotton used to make Marigold products is milled, ginned and dyed by an association of over 5,000 farmers in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, and then the finished cotton fabric is sent to the cooperative for stitching.

In order to make the beautiful, one of a kind products that you have come to love, we use fabrics that are vegetable-dyed and hand block printed, bringing the past into today’s fashion conscious world. Hand block printing is an age-old tradition that dates back to 12th century India, but it is a dying art form due to the trend of mass production. We believe in honoring and celebrating this tradition and so the fabrics used at the co-op to make Marigold clothing and housewares come from a group of artisans who have been block printing for generations. The work is done by hand with intricately carved wooden blocks called bunta which are pressed into the fabrics with great precision to bring you products that area true work of art.

Using a model of a completely fair trade supply chain, everyone who has had a hand in creating a Marigold product is becoming an economically self-sufficient stakeholder, and is not simply a worker.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Product Design & Production. In the mean time, what are your thoughts on using artisan traditions (such as block printing and vegetable dying) for the production of consumer goods? Is this important to you? Do you think the general shopper is concerned about the source of their fabrics?

October 19, 2010 at 5:51 am Leave a comment

Part 1 of “Fair Trade From the Seed to the Consumer”: Organic Cotton Farming

In recognition of Fair Trade Month, Marigold Fair Trade Clothing is starting a new blog series entitled: “Fair Trade From the Seed to the Consumer.” Our beautiful, fashion-forward products represent a completely fair trade supply chain, and you can be assured that from the cotton seed to the finished product, your Marigold purchase is helping to transform the lives of workers and their communities. Holding true to our value of transparency, and in an effort to educate and advocate for the Fair Trade model, we are opening up, and explaining, our complete value chain to the consumer public.

In Part 1 of our series, we will explore the first link in the Marigold supply chain: Organic Cotton Farming.

For the past three years, and especially since the summer of 2010, Marigold has been expanding our line to include more organic cotton products, while staying committed to fair trade and artisan design. We believe that it is important to support farming that does not employ harmful practices and that protects both the environment and the workers.

Marigold plays a part in growing the movement by offering clothing and housewares made from organic cotton that does not use agro chemicals that destroy our environment by contaminating water supplies, destroying soil nutrients, and harming wildlife. Along with the environmental impact of industrial practices, farmers also suffer from exposure to chemicals and experience ailments such as severe skin and digestion problems, and fatal diseases, including cancer.

In addition to having to deal with on the job health issues, cotton farmers in India often do not receive a fair enough price to cover production costs and many have been forced to borrow money at extortionate rates. Unable to repay debts or support their families, suicide is common, and in the Amravati district of Maharashtra alone, there are 5,000 farmer suicides every year. Over the past two years Marigold has been buying our organic cotton from an organization based in Andrah Pradesh that helps farmers to escape the spiraling debt and increase their income by 50%. Since the organization started working in 2006 there have been no suicides amongst the 6,000 farmers we work with. Through our company’s cotton sourcing standards, farmers have regained their dignity through self determination and through fair trading conditions.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2: Cloth Production and Block Printing. In the mean time, what are your thoughts on organic farming practices? Do you think it’s important to support the movement through your purchases of organic cotton clothing and other products?

October 13, 2010 at 4:51 am 4 comments

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