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      Impact — Purpose

      The Dominican Republic & Haiti: An Update From Jessica Ray

      Stuck in port since August, a container of fabric arrives at LIFE Haiti, ready to be sewn

      Hi GOEX family – I’m on my way back from visiting the factory we’re working with in the Dominican Republic and wanted to take a few minutes to update you on the trip!

      Happy Holidays,
      Jessica

      Update on Haiti

      Update on Haiti

       
      Haiti has been in and out of the news over the past weeks.  Many of you have seen reports of riots or gang violence.  But coming from a country that has long struggled with protests and general unrest, it’s easy to glaze over.  Please don’t glaze over this letter from Ariane, our General Manager at Life SA, our garment factory in Port au Prince.  She and her team want us to know what their jobs mean to them.  They need us to lean in, to pray, to encourage.  If you want to, drop us an email and we’ll send your words on to Haiti.  As always, thank you to our community - we can’t do anything without you.
      It has been 24 days. 24 days since Haiti has been completely paralyzed. Out of those 24 days, we have tried to open our doors at Life for a total of 6 days with minimal efficiency. We are operating on a day to day basis which rely upon these 3 key factors: Is it safe for us to leave our homes? Do we have a means of transportation? Do we have fuel to run the generator? Without these guarantees, we are struggling to keep our heads above water. 
      The challenges we are facing as a team are different yet the same. There has been ongoing insecurities and gang violence long before September 12th that we are all facing. We're scared to leave our homes whether it's by armored cars, taptaps, motos or even by foot. Our day to days are so unpredictable, which is the scariest part because every day is a risk leaving your home. This is a risk that our employees are willing to take at any cost, because "Le travail c'est la liberté." This is a saying in French that means, "work is freedom." One of the most important things we provide at Life, aside from fair pay, is a paid lunch every day. This is an added bonus for them because it is one less meal to have to pay for, especially during these times. Haiti as an island is extremely dependent on the importation of goods. We import about 90% of what we consume. Between the insecurity on the streets, particularly around the ports, and the lack of fuel, we are now dealing with a shortage of basic necessities. 
      It's been extremely hard for us, and everyone, to maintain the determination to keep going because it feels like the Haiti that we all love so much is giving up on us. It's easy to give up and turn our backs on this place, but we are resilient fighters. It has always been in our nature to fight, and we will continue to do so as long as we are able. We are beyond grateful for the continued support of our consumers that are fighting this fight with us. We know we are not alone, so a huge thank you from myself and the team at Life. 
      - ARIANE MANUEL

      Made in Haiti

      Made in Haiti

       

      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

      LIFE S.A. Haiti

       

      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

      GO Project

       

      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. 

       

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      We strive to bring you the latest in Fair Trade style and responsible fashion trends. If you like what we stand for, we want to share more! Stay in the loop by signing up to receive our newsletters and following us on TikTokInstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

       

      Empowering Fathers

      Empowering Fathers

      Despite many challenges, fathers are prospering while taking care of themselves and dreaming of a better life for their children. Every day fathers show us how to be strong, intelligent, and resilient. We had an opportunity to sit down with one of our staff members at LIFE S.A. to discuss what it means to be a working father and what inspires him about working with GOEX Apparel. 

       

      Meet Joseph Rycles

      Joseph is a sewing machine operator who primarily works on a single needle machine. He developed a passion for sewing after working as a salesman in a sewing workshop and has been sewing for nearly 18 years. “I was fascinated by it. I admired the workmanship, the cut of the clothes and the way they came to life. The owner of the workshop saw how I took an interest, so he offered to give me lessons. It was a huge turning point for me.”



      Joseph is from the city of Jean Rabel, Haiti. The third child in a family of four, he is now married with a daughter of his own. “I love my family because we respect and help each other. We are a good team; everyone has their role,” says Rycles. 


      Caring for his family comes in many forms such as ensuring that opportunities for his daughter are available - like a good education. “My job helps me pay for my daughter's scholarship; this is very important to me.” Rycles also ensures the empowerment of his community. “I love what I do and that's why I contribute to making this business work. I am proud to be a part of a team that respects people and strives to give the best they can.” Knowing that his job is attached to a strong social mission inspires him every day. As a supporter and father, he also runs his own side business and hopes to own his own workshop one day. 


      Caring For Families

      Stories like that of Joseph Rycles are a fantastic reminder of our mission. Although there is much work to be done, we are able to take a moment to admire how we have come together as a global community and then prepare ourselves for the mountains we’ve yet to climb. Today, GOEX is honored to say that we are able to support over 100 workers at LIFE S.A. With your help, whether you’re ordering 1 or 24,000 GOEX garments, we can ensure that our people thrive with dignity. 

       


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      Follow The Story

      We strive to bring you the latest in Fair Trade style and responsible fashion trends. If you like what we stand for, we want to share more! Stay in the loop by signing up to receive our newsletters and following us on TikTokInstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

      Women of Fair Trade

      Women of Fair Trade

      Each person, whether they are male or female, brings different assets to the workplace. They each deserve a fair chance at employment regardless of their gender.” - LIFE S.A. General Manager, Ariane Manuel

      It is a basic human right to be able to care for yourself and your family in a thriving culture yet gender inequality continues to be a destructive force against a better world. In order to reach sustainable development, women’s contributions and work must be recognized. From equal pay to policy for familial needs, the Fair Trade movement works diligently to empower women to do more than work. Fair Trade empowers women to thrive. 

       

      Women In The Supply Chain

      Kenna Russel, GOEX Graphic Designer

      The garment industry paints an image of a man’s world. “Manufacturing has long been a male dominated profession and therefore so has much of senior management in the apparel industry. I've ended up in some "interesting" conversations with veterans in the industry especially when they find out we manufacture in Haiti. Even more so when they find out our General Manager is also female,” says GOEX Executive Director, Jessica Ray. 

      Worldwide, one in six individuals that are employed work in the fashion industry and eighty percent of garment workers identify as female. (Fair Trade Certified) This means that whatever you are wearing as you are reading this, there is more than a fair chance that it was made by a woman. Yet despite this fact, women employed by conventional business models only represent twenty-four percent of senior roles, twelve percent of board members, and nine percent of CEOs. If eighty percent of the garment workforce identifies as female then why are they not being encouraged to be involved in policy design? 

       

      Advancement of Women

      There is an overwhelming amount of data that proves that the key to a fairer, richer world is through the empowerment of women. Fair Trade cultivates gender equality by encouraging women to take up decision making and leadership positions and by paving a clear, obtainable path to do so. According to a gender study conducted by the World Fair Trade Organization, a woman working for a Fair Trade enterprise is four times as likely to achieve a senior management position, become CEO or join the Board than she would be working for a conventional business. 

      Fair Trade seeks to make diverse perspectives a part of the development, planning, and evaluation of all elements of business. When asked why diversity is so important, Jessica Ray replied “Perspective! Everyone brings a unique set of experiences and the resulting diversity of thought and insight offers different ways to look at situations and solve problems.” 

       

      Women of GOEX

      Women of GOEX on a video conference call

      With a passion for fair trade, the women of GOEX continue to lead the way in better business practices. We’re guided by a team of leaders in Kansas City and Haiti who are united under our mission to create and sustain fair wage jobs that empower makers to care for their families. In fact, GOEX is 100 percent woman led and managed and 50 percent BIPOC led and managed. (To learn more about our team click here.) Together, the women of GOEX bring 83 years of experience and dedication. LIfe S.A. General Manager Ariane Manuel finds inspiration in her coworkers every day. “I'm inspired by our factory floor manager, Luisa. She has this incredible work ethic and passion for what it is that she does. No matter what the circumstances she comes to work with a smile on her face and ready to tackle the day at 100%.”

       

      Follow The Story

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      We stand at an incredible moment as a society. We have everything we need to ensure the dignity, prosperity, and liberty of every human being on this planet. Here at GOEX, we will do everything we can to accomplish this goal - to make HERstory. Get inspired by the women of the fair trade movement through our social media channels and our weekly newsletter.