The story of GOEX Apparel began in 2010 in Gulu, Uganda with a woman named Lucy. Lucy had a sewing center, but no work. Our parent organization, The Global Orphan Project, sought to help by partnering with her on sewing school uniforms for children in her community. This work gave Lucy dignity, provided income for her family, and changed their stories from charity to empowerment. This event signaled an epiphany - that having a stable, fair-wage job helps keep families together and empowers them to succeed. Thus GOEX Apparel was formed.
Two years later, the incredible impact in Uganda caught the attention of GO Project’s partners in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. While Haiti’s “mountains beyond mountains” and rugged island beauty are breathtaking, poverty is a tangible force in the daily lives of most Haitians. Historical colonial exploitation, decades of ineffective government, and natural disasters are just a few contributing challenges in Haiti. Despite these struggles, the people of Haiti continue to show exemplary hope and a sense of community. The need was clear and we now had the partnership to begin to help lay the groundwork for a better way of LIFE.
Made With LIFE
Managed by Ariane Manuel, LIFE S. A. is a 24,000 square foot boutique apparel factory located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A life-giving alternative within the apparel industry, LIFE treats their skilled employees with respect and pays a fair wage that reinstates pride, dignity, and stability within their families. Daily wages at Life S.A. are 65% higher than the sector minimum. "We're basically breaking all of the rules in [the fashion] industry,” says Ariane. “Not only do we take pride in the garments that we produce, but we invest in the wellbeing of our employees. We are a family here. Everything we do, we do with pride and with a lot of talent. Our slogan 'Feel good. Do good.' really means something important. I think anybody would feel good to make a difference and to be a part of what we're trying to do."
Less than a 2-hour flight from Florida, Haiti is located on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. This means that we are able to build sustainable, fair-wage jobs without severe consequences to the planet. Mega-factory shirts will typically travel 16,000 miles in their production journey — leaving toxic oil residue in the ocean. Our fabrics are sourced right here in the U.S., shipped to Haiti to be sewn into shirts, and shipped back to the U.S. for sale, leaving a total travel time of 3,200 miles and a much smaller carbon footprint.
The Road So Far
In 2012, we piloted the GOEX sustainability concept with a single product made in Haiti: GO Jammies. Over a sixty-day period, we sold nearly 5,000 units that supported 28 workers. Since then, we've expanded our garment line, made significant improvements to our shop and warehouses, and welcomed new team members. In 2021, GOEX achieved over $2 million in garment sales and supported 89 workers in Haiti and 21 in Kansas City.
When people have dignified work and fair-wage income, the world wins. You can send all of the funds and resources you want, but the sustainable solution is providing opportunity for those in need to care for themselves and for communities to have a strong foundation of support. GOEX exists to contribute to that solution. A better shirt for a better world.