The Market: Purchase for Good
Have you ever thought about where your money goes when you make a purchase? Sure, someone out there makes a profit when you swipe your card, but who? And how? Do you know if the manufacturers of the products you buy are working in safe environments and being paid fair wages for their time? Have you ever compared the weight that your favorite companies place on the value of people versus the value of production processes?
Don’t worry, we hadn’t either.
However, all of that changed when we began to wade into the waters of the increasingly popular fair trade and ethical fashion movement. Since then, we can’t help but wonder all that has gone on behind the scenes before our favorite sweaters and accessories end up on display in store fronts. We can’t unlearn what we now know, and we want you to be just as equally informed.
Here’s the reality: regardless of how much money you have, you possess purchasing power. Contrary to what one would think, purchasing power isn’t necessarily found in the amount of money in your bank account, but rather in the fact that you have money to spend at all. Therefore, as with anyone in a position of power, it is vital to know how to leverage power in a positive manner. Because a majority of people aren’t aware of how their purchases affect other people, the environment, and more, consumers’ shopping habits often end up being harmful and oppressive. For example, garment factories are extremely common to the production process of many well-known companies, and the conditions of these factories are appalling. This industry is primarily populated by women employees who are forced to work 16 hour days in over-crowded, dirty factories that result in either factory fires and/or serious, and sometimes fatal, work-related injuries. In addition to these harsh conditions, most factory workers are paid wages that are not able to sustain a family’s basic needs such as shelter and food.
This fact is more true and heartbreaking than we would all like to admit, but this story doesn’t end in despair. The good news? The fair trade movement is slowly gaining ground in the fashion industry. The term ‘fair trade’ refers to production processes aimed at eradicating poverty and championing sustainable development by prioritizing a just and transparent supply chain. Even though it is shocking how many well known companies do not emphasize people over product, companies that push back against the traditional, horrific model do exist. Companies such as Tribe Alive deliver excellent products while still prioritizing the quality of life for their hundreds of artisans. They know their artisans by name, mandate shorter working days, pay living wages, and use fashion as a platform of empowerment to women all over the world.
Out of a desire to play a small role in opening consumers’ eyes to the horrific realities our money often contributes to, we dedicated a whole night to empower our community to both learn about this movement as well as to take action. The Market hosted ten different vendors that actively use their profits for good in some capacity, and Carly Burson, the night’s keynote speaker, delivered a powerful speech about the importance of shopping ethically. Her message included details about the unsafe environments and factories that many manufacturers work in, the surprisingly low, unsustainable salaries manufacturers make, and the dangers fast fashion poses to our environment.
The Market took place at WeWork in Clearfork, and our ten vendors set up shop on two different floors in order to both sell their products and tell their stories to shoppers. In addition to shopping incredible vendors and hearing a moving message, guests enjoyed drinks and snacks of all kinds, and they had the chance to participate in a giveaway of amazing fair trade products from all over the world. Overall, the environment was inviting, characterized by a buzz of excitement, and served as a catalyst of change in shopping habits for so many in attendance.
The importance of this topic and this night can’t be squeezed into a blog, but please take the time to scroll through the following resources to learn more about fair trade fashion and our vendors that made it all possible!
What is fair trade and why does it matter?
The Market’s Vendors:
Ultimately, we truly believe that gathering people under the same roof creates space for change, and The Market accomplished exactly that. While it is unrealistic to expect our habits as consumers to completely change overnight, it is our great hope that we will all begin to consider the importance of where our money goes. After all, in the words of Anna Lappe, “Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”