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A Quick Update | Navigating Coronavirus in Haiti

 

A quick update from Ariane, General Manager at LIFE, will fill you in on what’s been happening since opening our doors back up in Haiti:

 

Greetings from Haiti! It’s been just about one month since we re-opened our doors here at Life. Since then, we have successfully been able to transition back into our work flow while maintaining a clean and organized environment. Our daily routines have been adjusted to make sure we are doing everything in our power to keep each other safe, which is our number one priority amidst COVID-19. My hope is that the safety precautions our team takes while at work they are able to bring home with them.

 

Haiti is still under a “state of health emergency,” but there is talk of the airport reopening within the next month to come. We are currently at 4,500 confirmed cases that increase at a rate of approximately 150 per day. There has been a gradual resumption of activity country wide. Most if not all businesses have re-opened under limited hours and continual sanitation requirements before entering. As for the apparel sector, the Haitian government has mandated a 30% cap of the workforce at all times until stated otherwise. For the past month we have rotated our employees in and out giving everyone a chance to earn. It is not an ideal situation by any means, but I am grateful that our team is able to be flexible and understanding.

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What is World Fair Trade Day and why does it matter?

 

 

World Fair Trade Day is an inclusive worldwide celebration of fair trade’s contribution to the fight against poverty, exploitation and climate change. This year, it takes place on Saturday, May 9. 

 

Fair Trade matters in this moment more than ever. Why? 

 

While many companies are cancelling orders and protecting profit margins, Fair Trade companies are doing everything they can to keep paying artisans around the world whose governments don’t have safety nets in place to provide for them. From pre-paying for orders to issuing grants or fundraising on their behalf, Fair Trade companies are caring for their makers in any way they can.

 

Beyond specific initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fair Trade companies focus on making the world a better place every day. Today, we celebrate these three specific focus areas:

 

  1. Fight against poverty

    Fair Trade companies typically pay higher wages than comparable employers and offer additional social benefits such as savings plans, meals, childcare, healthcare, job training and more. These programs result in higher management and labor costs, but they empower employees to care for their families and lift them out of poverty. A strong job creates opportunities for systemic change that are never possible through traditional charity.

     

  2. Fight against exploitation

    Exploitation typically goes hand in hand with poverty. When people do not have their basic needs met, they are vulnerable to exploitation by those in power. Ways Fair Trade companies fight exploitation include: paying equal wages to men and women, never employing children, or rescuing women from trafficking. Overall, strong jobs provide stability to people significantly lowering the risk of exploitation.

     

  3. Fight against climate change

    Fair Trade companies know that caring for people means also caring for their physical surroundings. Trash clean-ups, waste elimination, tree planting, water collection plans, solar energy at production facilities, recycled raw materials – there are endless initiatives companies can implement to care for the environment while producing their goods.

 

While economies are shut down around the world, the need for commerce to invest in people over profits has never been more clear. The World Fair Trade Organization says this:  “The pandemic has uprooted the global economy, threatened lives and livelihoods. The fundamental shakeup also means we can shape how our economies will recover. Together, we can ensure the economy that arises truly puts people and planet first.” Learn more about their #PlanetFairTrade vision.  

 

While you’re staying home shopping online, choose fair trade and then post your favorite purchases with the hashtag #StayHomeLiveFair!

 

GOEX Apparel is proud to be a Fair Trade company. Thank you, our customers and friends, for all of your support which allows us to continue to pay our employees while our factory is closed and to invest in supplies and infrastructure to make sure they’re safe when they do come back to work. Learn more about the reopening plan here.

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We strive to be bold with our words and represent the ideals we believe. If you like what we stand for, we want to share more! Stay in the loop by signing up to receive our newsletters, following us on Instagram or liking our Facebook page.

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Production Facility Update | Meet our new General Manager

 

Our world will see many changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. From fashion trends to sanitation guidelines, to the very definition of community, everything around us is shifting. One of the changes happening at GOEX is an expedited completion of a transition plan for our team in Haiti at our apparel manufacturing facility, LIFE. Jeff Blatt has been the General Manager at Life S.A. since we began this initiative more than five years ago. He’s been an incredible asset and we will never be able to thank him enough for shaping GOEX into the quality brand it is today.

 

After 30+ years in Haiti, he’s been looking to transition back to the states so over the last few years he’s been training our next generation of management. When we reopen the factory (hopefully in mid-May), Jeff will be in an advisory role and Ariane Manuel will transition into the General Manager role. Ariane is an incredible asset to our team. She cares deeply for Haiti, for our employees and for the quality of the products they send to you, our customers.

 

We wanted to take this opportunity to let Ariane share a little bit about herself and a Haiti update. Enjoy!

 

“My name is Ariane Manuel and I am a Haitian American living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I was born and raised in the United States by my parents who are Haitian diaspora. Despite living in the states, Haiti has always been a prominent part of my life between the family, language and culture that lived inside of me. I always knew that living here one day would be a part of my path, and now I find myself calling it home.

 

I’ve been with Life S.A. for a little over three years now. My journey has evolved into something I could have never imagined, and I am grateful for every step of the way. I came on board taking a chance on the unknown, just as a chance was taken on me. I had never had any experience in the apparel industry, but each day that went by I became more and more eager to learn. I was extremely fortunate to have had a mentor in Jeff Blatt, our long time General Manager, who knows this business inside and out. Not only was he adamant about transferring his knowledge to me, it was a joy to learn and work alongside him. In just three years, I am confident in saying I have a strong grasp on what it takes to make a small apparel factory run successfully.

 

Aside from having a newfound interest in manufacturing, there’s one thing that has always remained a constant. No matter how big or small, making a difference in other peoples’ lives has always been a passion of mine. Not only making a difference, but also seeking to understand and sympathize with others. That is why my position with GOEX and LIFE means so much more to me than just being passionate about production. We care about the people. We care about their families, their children and their well-being. I am grateful for every relationship I have built with each and every one of our team members. It is important to me that everyone knows they are valued and appreciated for their hard work they put in day in and day out. I am proud to be a part of this movement together, even more so at this particular moment in time.

 

It’s been almost two months since the shutdown of our factory. I’ve continued to practice social distancing the best I can, but as far as the general population goes, this task is close to impossible. Haitians generally make their living on a day to day basis. Meaning, whatever they are able to sell that day allows them to feed their families the next. They have no choice but to continue their daily routines. Yes, I constantly see masks whenever I leave my house, but I don’t see any sense of caution or fear. In my opinion, I believe that they’ve seen so much hardship in their lives that this virus does not scare them.

 

Small businesses have re-opened with limited hours and new rules they require each customer to abide by. This includes but is not limited to the use of a mask and washing of hands before entering their store. On the other hand, the re-opening of factories is more of a challenge. Naturally, because it is an industry that brings together many people in a closed environment. That being said, there are many additional requirements that all factories have and will be forced to comply with.

 

These past couple of weeks my main focus has been on acquiring all of the necessary supplies to ensure we are prepared for re-open. We have outsourced non-contact thermometers, free-standing hand washing stations, foot mats and other various supplies. Locally, I was able to purchase a substantial amount of alcohol, chlorine and hand sanitizer. Moving forward, each employee will be responsible for the sanitizing of their workspace as well as their hands on a regular basis throughout the day. Prior to re-open they will each be provided with 10 reusable masks and 2 oz bottles of sanitizer. Systems will be put into place and become a part of their daily routines. A lot of thought has been put into every detail to ensure the safety of us all. I am looking forward to being back up and running!”

 

Follow the story.

We strive to be bold with our words and represent the ideals we believe. If you like what we stand for, we want to share more! Stay in the loop by signing up to receive our newsletters, following us on Instagram or liking our Facebook page.

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What is eco-triblend?

Once you’ve experienced one of our eco-triblend tees, it’s hard to go back to cotton. Read on to learn more about our eco-triblend tees and why we (and our customers) think they’re so amazing.

 

Eco-triblend tees are better for the environment.

Tri-blend was first introduced to the market in 2006. It is fabric made up of three different materials: cotton, polyester and rayon. At GOEX, our triblend tees are made up of 25% U.S. cotton, 50% recycled polyester and 25% rayon. We define our triblend tees as eco-triblend because they are better for the environment. Each t-shirt contains the equivalent of approximately five plastic water bottles, taking them out of the landfills and repurposing them in your wardrobe. 

 

Eco-triblend tees are softer.

Our unique blend of yarns creates a luxuriously soft tee with a little bit of a stretch that you’ll want to wear multiple days a week. 


Eco-triblend tees are more durable.

These incredible tees withstand the test of time. They hold up to regular washing and resist pilling, ripping and fading. One of our eco-triblend tees will remain a staple in your closet for years to come. 

 

Eco-triblend tees are more moisture-wicking.

This fabric breathes like cotton and the polyester content wicks water and doesn’t keep heat trapped between the fabric and your skin. You’ll stay cooler and drier wearing one of our eco-triblend tees, whether you’re being active or just going about your regular day.


Eco-triblend tees are more fashionable.

Besides being incredibly comfy, these tees come with a vintage heather texture, they’re wrinkle-resistant and have an awesome fit that perfectly hugs all body types. Whether you’re going for a basic or a graphic tee, you’re sure to standout in the crowd.

 

Shop tees made with you in mind.

Our tees are one of the best, comfiest tees on the market made at the highest standard. GOEX is one of the elite few who have passed the Fair Trade Federation’s (FTF) rigorous screening, ensuring members are committed to being fair and responsible in everything they do – socially, economically and environmentally. Shop our graphic tee collection to find the perfect statement tee to add to your wardrobe that does good for the environment and its makers!

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A complete outfit out of recycled plastics

 

The abundance of single use plastics in our daily lives is becoming an issue severely impacting our environment that we can no longer ignore. One million plastic bottles are purchased around the world every minute, but what happens to them after they’re used?

 

While most plastic bottles are unfortunately not recycled, some companies have stepped up to reuse the bottles in sustainable fashion. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite brands reinventing what recycled fashion means – enough to make a complete, sustainable outfit! Check it out below. 

 

Shirt

At GOEX, we are committed to a high standard of quality. Quality of worker experience, quality of fabric and quality of material. Better t-shirts start with better raw materials. Our eco-triblend tees are made from U.S. cotton, recycled polyester and rayon. Every eco-triblend shirt contains the equivalent of approximately five plastic water bottles!

 

Jacket

Patagonia has been making recycled polyester for their clothing from plastic bottles since 1993. Now their recycled polyester fibers are made from a blend of soda bottles, manufacturing waste and worn-out apparel. Recycled polyester can be found in a wide range of Patagonia’s products. We think their jackets are a staple in every sustainable fashionista’s wardrobe! 

 

Pants

Aeropostale’s line of eco-friendly jeans is made from recycled polyester and comes in more than 6 fits, 4 rises and 21 washes. You’re sure to find your new favorite pair of jeans.

 

Underwear

Marc Skid offers premium, eco-friendly organic cotton underwear with one recycled plastic water bottle used in every waistband. For every pair of underwear sold, Marc Skid donates $4 to nine 4-star charities dedicated to Curing, Feeding and Saving the World. 

Socks

Maggies Organics provides fair trade, socially conscious, organic cotton socks. Their socks have been made in the USA since 1992 and offer soft, long-lasting comfort that is so good you won’t want to take them off.

Shoes

Adidas offers a wide variety of stylish, sustainable sneakers. This year, over half of the polyester in its products is from recycled plastic waste, with plans to use only recycled polyester by 2024. Approximately, 15-20 million pairs of Adidas sneakers will be created in 2020 with plastic waste collected from beaches and coastal regions.

 

The next time you decide to place an online order to refresh your wardrobe, we hope you choose sustainable, ethical choices. The purchase you make has the opportunity to change the world, one recycled and reused water bottle at a time. 

 

Shop graphic tees you can feel good about wearing.

Our tees are one of the best, comfiest tees on the market made at the highest standard. Shop our graphic tee collection to find the perfect statement tee to add to your wardrobe that does good for the environment and its makers!

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Shirts feel good when they are responsibly sourced

 

No fake news, this is the real deal. We take sourcing and creating seriously. Read through to learn how GOEX is limiting our environmental impact and are committed to sustainability.

 

Step 1: Responsible Sourcing

Our eco-triblend material is responsibly grown and sourced right here in the U.S. – in South Carolina. Our eco-triblend tees are made up of 50% Recycled Polyester, 25% Cotton and 25% Rayon with a total of 5 recycled water bottles in each tee. By sourcing the material in the United States, we have high visibility on farming practices and working conditions for workers.

 

Step 2: Responsible Workplace Environment 

After the material is processed into fiber, spun into yarn and knitted into fabric, it is shipped to our Fair Trade, Better Work Certified production facility LIFE to be hand-sewn into your shirts. A typical t-shirt will travel 16,000 miles. Most of this shipping is done using bunker fuel, a heavy oil residue so toxic most countries won’t let ships use it within 200 miles of shore. Haiti, on the other hand, is a mere 500 miles from Miami and that’s as far as our fabric and shirts have to go – a significant reduction in shipping.

 

Step 3: Responsible Fulfillment

Once the blank tees are sewn, checked and packed by our makers in Haiti, they come to our fulfillment warehouse in Kansas City to be printed and shipped to you!

Our printshop is located in Kansas City’s urban core, creating fair wage jobs for many Kansas City residents as well.

 

Step 4: You get your new favorite shirt!

From South Carolina, to Haiti, to KC, to you – GOEX shirts represent more. You’ll live in your comfy tee and can feel good that you made a difference with your purchase.

 

Shop tees made with you in mind.

We’d love to get you started with a better basic tee today! Choose from our many styles, colors, and fits to make the perfect garment for your next group event — something you can feel proud to wear. Browse our Digital Catalog today!

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COVID-19 | Regarding the temporary shutdown of our production facility

 

Right now the news is full of retailer and manufacturers jumping to make medical masks and gowns. We wanted to share why, at our apparel manufacturing facility LIFE, we’re not.

 

On Thursday, March 19th, we received a call from Bickford Senior Living, a longtime client, asking if we could make masks for their senior living facilities as they only had enough for one per person and were struggling to get additional supplies. Within 24 hours our team designed a mask and put it into production. At that time, Haiti only had one case of COVID-19 and factories were running. By the end of day Friday there were five cases and the Haitian government announced a shut down that evening putting a stop to all textile production in the country. Over the weekend, we adjusted the pattern for home sewing and got it out to volunteer sewers to make masks for Bickford and other facilities. (Learn more and download the pattern here.)

 

Right now in Haiti, the textile sewing industry is putting enormous pressure on the government to allow factories to reopen. They’re pushing with the angle of sewing medical masks and gowns, but most don’t have the ability to make the shift quickly because of fabric supply. While they are putting plans together for hand washing stations and other sanitation measures, many of these factories have thousands of employees who work in close conditions and pass garment parts from person to person. There is no way to prevent germs from passing within the factories.

 

That being said, there is the reality of the Haitian economy – people don’t have savings accounts for deep freezes. Stocking up on supplies is not a thing. Without the factories running, the 55,000+ people who work in the textile sector are unemployed. If the factories reopen, they will go back to work. There are no safety nets in Haiti, the government will not be depositing cash into everyone’s bank accounts. If factories open, workers will make a choice between a paycheck and the potential threat to the health and safety of them and their family and neighbors. In a country with very little healthcare and little ability to social distance, going to work could be a devastating decision.

 

 

So what are we doing differently?

  1. As soon as the shutdown was announced, we got on the phone with our team and told them we would continue to pay our people at least for the next two payrolls (one month).
  2. Our management team is advocating for the workers on industry calls and text chains. We are not pushing for factories to reopen next week, instead we’re asking for all of the factories to consider the risks to their employees above the desires to make money or even to help sew hospital gowns.
  3. We’re analyzing cash positions and expenses and talking to suppliers and customers in the hope that we can continue to pay our workers so they can care for their families during these unprecedented times.

 

Here is an update from Ariane, our COO, who chose stay in Haiti when most American citizens were leaving:

 

“Since the announcement of the first reported cases of COVID-19 in Haiti, my every day life has completely changed like everyone else all around the world. The country was in complete panic the next day with everyone frantically trying to run last minute errands at the same time. It’s been almost been two weeks since then and I’ve noticed that things have definitely calmed down. I’ve noticed a shift in precautions taken by not only the government but the people of Haiti as well, as their awareness on the virus has expanded.

Our team is doing a great job of frequently touching base with one another and keeping the morale high during these difficult times. The gesture of granting two payrolls spoke volumes to the employees. I didn’t get to speak to everyone, but those I did get the chance to talk to were extremely grateful. They know that we are all in this together and have their best interest at heart.”

 

How can you help?

  1. If you sew at home, jump in on making masks or gowns. We’ve provided a pattern for masks but there are several options out on the internet. Have questions? Shoot us an email and we’ll find an answer!
  2. Buy a tee, or two or ten! Many people are taking this opportunity to clean out closets and organize their homes. Make rags out those old tees and hoodies and restock for spring with new basics or graphic tees that, now more than ever, care for the people that make them.
  3. Share our story! Online shopping is trending up now more than ever. Encourage your friends and family to make ethical choices while shopping. Follow the hashtag #StayHomeLiveFair to see other consumers and brands connecting in solidarity with workers and promoting Fair Trade goods.

 

Watch for additional updates from our team in Haiti over the next few weeks as we navigate our ever-changing world.  Thank you for your continued support!

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COVID-19 | A simple way you can join the relief efforts

 

 

 

In response to the nationwide face mask shortage created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we immediately shifted all production at LIFE in Haiti to sew masks. When the factory had to close for the protection of our workers, we quickly altered the pattern for home sewing and connected with networks of home seamstresses. Now we are inviting you to join our relief efforts! Our team designed a DIY template with step by step instructions for anyone at home to participate.

 

 

 

Download our easy to follow pattern

 

 

 

Gather your family, pick out your favorite fabric and sew! Don’t have fabric? Ask us and we will send you some.

 

 

 

Due to tight regulations in the healthcare industry, we will be donating all masks to our network of senior living facilities, one of the most vulnerable populations. We can provide you contacts to deliver yourself, or you can mail your finished masks to us and we will make the deliveries.

 

Mail to:
GOEX Print and Apparel
3161 Wyandotte Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

 

 

If you have any questions as you get started about the pattern, fabric or delivery instructions, email us and we would be happy to help! Thank you for linking arms with us from afar — we are all in this together.

 

 

 

 

[The team at LIFE in Haiti sewing masks before production was stopped.)

 

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Shimmer, Metallic, Glitter: Ink That Stands Out!

We’re seeing so many graphics that shine in the market right now which means we receive frequent requests for them as well. We wanted to share some tips and useful details on selecting the right look for your graphics!

 

To get that eye-catching look, you have a couple of options: specialty inks or post press finishes such as foil or heat press. Each provides a unique finish or look.


 

Here are our specialty ink options:

 

Crystallina – This a sheer, specialty ink with clear, slightly goldish glitter and can printed over most colors of ink to add some sparkles.

 

 

Shimmer – A specialty ink with small bits of glitter throughout giving a consistent sparkly look and feel. We stock Shimmer inks in silver or gold.

 

 

Metallic – Looking for an edge, but no sparkle? Metallic ink is the way to go. A consistent look with a nice sheen but without the sparkle. We think this would be the perfect finish for superhero or space inspired tees!

 

 

Glitter – Less sheer than Crystallina but still best printed over a base color (often gold), this specialty ink has larger flecks of glitter than Shimmer for more sparkle, but less consistent coverage.

 

 

 

Here are some post press options:

 

  1. Foil – When we say foil we really mean foil! Best for a one-color, all foil graphic.  An adhesive is “printed” on the garment in the shape of the final graphic. A piece of foil is then laid over the adhesive and cured with the heat press. Then the foil is pulled off revealing the finished, super shiny graphic.
  2. Heat Press – Plastisol inks naturally have a matte finish after curing in the dryer. If we apply heat to the graphic afterwards, the ink will change to a glossy finish. This is best for a large, simple graphic and looks really cool on tonal prints.

 

Keep in mind that any of these processes or inks have an upcharge over a standard print color or location. Each also has specific art guidelines for best results. Ask your sales rep for details!

 

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Invest in the Health of Your Makers

 

2019 was a year of turmoil in Haiti – from political riots that prevented our employees from getting to work to rapidly rising inflation, life kept getting harder in an already tough environment. This led us to look at how we could continually support and provide for our employees in keeping with our Fair Trade values. Our employees received modest pay raises, which were more than offset by the country’s inflation crisis. So, at the beginning of 2020, we launched a new lunch program providing a meal for each of our employees at LIFE, our boutique apparel factory in Haiti, every day free of charge.

 

This lunch program provides several benefits:

 

    1. Lunch costs our employees about $1 per day so this meal gives them an immediate and impactful increase to available funds for other expenses.

    2. The lunch we provide is a balanced meal which includes protein giving everyone better energy for afternoon production and the evening at home with their families.

    3. We purchased reusable lunch containers for all of our employees eliminating styrofoam waste on site.

    4. Because we are a small factory, we did not have lunch vendors on site so employees had to walk to get lunch each day. Now that food is delivered, they have time to relax over their lunch breaks.

 

In developing the program, we sought input from employees on menus, possible vendors and other logistics. We love creating opportunities for our employees to be involved in decisions, especially those that directly impact them.

 

Instead of raising the price of our garments to pay for this program, we are choosing to reinvest some of GOEX’s profits and to fundraise throughout the year to help offset the cost.

 

This is where you come in.

 

We are inviting you to buy your makers a meal.

 

 

Do you have an extra dollar?

One dollar at a time, we hope to fully fund a lunch program for the whole staff at LIFE in 2020. With one dollar, you can feed, celebrate, thank and invest in the well being of your makers. With one dollar saved, they can love, care for and focus on the well being of their family. Give today!

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