Tag - Fair Trade Federation

Seek To Do Better | Fair Trade Month

Fair trade means a lot of things to a lot of different people. But if we get down to the nitty gritty, it means “better”. Better standards, better treatment of employees, better pay, better conditions, just better. At GOEX, we seek to do better in everything we do to support better lives for children and families, and better care for our planet.

 

To celebrate Fair Trade Month, our team wanted to share how we style our Fair Trade Icons Tee in a sustainable, ethical way – by pairing it with our favorite thrifted items! Check out some of our team’s awesome finds below and why thrifting is important to them.

 

 

Item(s) thrifted: necklace, earrings, rings, purse and shoes

 

“Thrifting jewelry and accessories is important to me because they are often items that don’t have your typical wear and tear. They can easily become heirlooms that can be passed on from one generation to the next.”

 

| Carly Moore, GOEX Sales Manager

 

 

Fun fact: Some of Carly’s thrifted items come from all over the world including: Egypt, Germany and Jordan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item(s) thrifted: jacket and shoes

 

“Thrifting is a conscious way to support the community and be intentional about where your money is going. I also love it because it’s a way to find good uses for things that would otherwise be thrown away.”

 

| Julian Davis, GO Project Graphic Designer

 

Fun fact: Julian got his Sperry’s for $5 at a thrift store in Washington, Missouri, that was started by a couple that wanted to serve their community. What a deal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item(s) thrifted: jean skirt and earrings

 

“Thrifting is important to me for several reasons. A favorite date night activity for my husband and me is to go to our local thrift store and search for treasures. We usually come away with a few articles of clothing, home items, or a mug. I enjoy purchasing second hand because I know it supports a good cause, creates jobs and I am not letting an item go to waste. Thrifting is fun and good for the environment, it’s a win win!”

 

| Kenna Russell, GOEX Graphic Artist

 

Fun fact: Kenna cut her skirt into that length herself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item(s) thrifted: jean jacket and bracelet

 

“Consumers have a choice when it comes to shopping and I choose to support ethical brands, recycled goods and the local community. That can look like purchasing a second hand garment or investing in fair trade brands and choosing not to support big box companies or ‘fast fashion’. By donating that jacket that no longer fits you can support a local thrift shop, local commerce and feel good while doing it!”

 

| Shelby Williams, GOEX Client Services & Operation Manager

 

Fun fact: Shelby’s jean jacket is from a clothing exchange she did with her friends and her bracelet is a hand-me-down from her grandmother!

 

 

 

 

 

Item(s) thrifted: jean jacket

 

“Thrifting is important to me, as I find that throwing away clothes, shoes and other items can just be put to a better use than being in a landfill. Whether it’s to donate clothes to those in need, purchasing items to sponsor causes or just to use an item that still has life left in it – I find thrifting to be a way of limiting waste and actually living the ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure’ motto.”

 

| Brittny Choi, GOEX Administrative Assistant

 

Fun fact: Brittny’s jean jacket was thrifted from her church’s bazaar in New York City a couple of year’s ago! Proceeds from the bazaar go back to the church for long-term mission trips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item(s) thrifted: beanie, jacket and jeans

 

“Having been in the apparel industry for so long, I get really bummed out when I see old garments/materials being wasted/thrown away. I like to challenge myself to find a way to breathe second life into these kind of items, whether it’s rescuing something from the trash pile or making something new out of leftover materials.”

 

| Meghann Wheelock, GOEX Product Management Coordinator

 

Fun fact: Megahann’s jacket is made from recycled fabric and materials, so double recycling for the win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item(s) thrifted: blazer

 

“My grandpa loves to thrift shop, especially for jewelry and accessories for me. I have many special, unique pieces because of him. He has taught me a lot about finding beauty in unwanted items (and making people feel loved and thought of). I’m really happy to continue on the tradition of something that has such a powerful personal, environmental and social impact.”

 

| Rebecca Miller, GO Project Content Marketing Specialist

 

Fun fact: Rebecca wore this blazer to her panel interview for this job!

 

 

 

 

 

We know no matter how you choose to accessorize your GOEX tee, you’ll be wearing one of the best, comfiest tees on the market that is not only good for the wearer, but also for those who made it and the environment.

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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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Living By Our Own High Standards

At GOEX, it’s important for us to not only maintain our high standards, but to also live by them.

 

Our Executive Director, Jessica Ray, decided to make a big change while she was promoting GOEX at the annual Fair Trade Federation conference earlier this year. As she went through speakers and workshops at the conference, she realized that half of what she was wearing was not Fair Trade or ethically made. She also realized that she regularly purchased garments she didn’t need just because she gets caught up in fast fashion availability.

 

After the conference, she made a commitment to only purchase fair trade or ethically made garments for herself for the rest of the year. She’s caught herself a few times with something in her cart at Target that she’s had to put back – amazing how mindlessly we shop, right?

 

She’s made it over six months and has some incredible brands she’s found and supported. Read on for some of her favorite suggestions:

 

  • The Root Collective – This company sells cute leather shoes handmade by artisans in Guatemala.

 

  • Athleta – Did you know Athleta is now a B-Corp and offers many styles manufactured in Fair Trade Certified factories?  Yet another reason to love this brand!

 

  • Target – Yes, Target! Not every item, but the store is making strides toward social conscious manufacturing and recently introduced a line of certified Fair Trade denim.

 

  • Elegantees – This line of tops and dresses is ethically made by women in Nepal.

 

  • Sika’a – In case you didn’t hear, we had a pretty big event in August that required attendees to dress to the nines. It was a little more challenging to find a cocktail dress, especially since I wanted something different. Luckily I found this cool British company that makes incredible garments!

 

  • Second hand and consignment – Shopping second hand is always an ethical choice! I buy almost all of my kids’ clothes second hand and items for myself and my husband as well.

 

  • GOEX (of course!) – I wear a tee almost every day! Layer it under a blazer with a statement necklace or wear it with a skirt to dress it up or tuck it into slacks with a great belt. There are so many ways to make our favorite Fair Trade tee look professional and polished – choose the ladies v-neck in black or white for simplicity. Or check out our new ladies flowy tee for a more unique twist on the classic tee.

 

One caution as you shop: just because a company has a socially conscious mission, doesn’t necessarily make it ethically made. Ask questions and make sure a give back isn’t overshadowing a product that doesn’t care for the hands that make it. In order to truly be ethically made, the item has to care for people throughout the supply chain.

 

Now it’s your turn! Choose ethically made and go find the brands that fit your style. Here’s a blog dedicated to fair trade and ethically made products with a great resource list!

 

 

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.

Read more...

Does “For Cause” Make It Ethical?

 

If a brand is “for cause” does that automatically make it ethical? Because a garment “gives back” is it fair trade?

The short answer is NO. With the increasing number of companies whose products include a donation to any number of causes, it’s easy to classify them all as ethical or even fair trade. If the item itself is not ethically manufactured, no donation to a U.S. charity when it’s sold makes up for the cost to the hands that made it in the first place. Too many for cause businesses negotiate lower costs for their products so they can afford to give back. That low cost of goods adversely affects the makers. In the same way that consumers are upset because companies pass higher tariffs onto them, manufacturers can only offer lower costs by keeping workers’ wages low or using lower quality, or questionably sourced raw materials.

 

Nowhere is this more true than in t-shirts. Of the billions of t-shirts sold in the U.S. every year, millions of them are for some kind of cause. Fundraisers, events, give back graphics, awareness messages and more – most of the time the seller wants the cheapest tee possible in order to maximize profits and therefore the donation to the cause.

 

But at what cost? Think of this irony: A U.S. non-profit is set up to provide education to the poor in Bangladesh, Haiti, India, etc. – noble cause for sure! The non-profit creates a cool graphic and sells tees to raise money. Also a great idea. However, thousands of people are employed for pennies a day in these countries sewing tees. Their wages are so low that they can’t afford healthcare, a clean home or an education for their kids. It’s not unrealistic to think that the tee the organization sold to support education in those countries was actually made by the parent of a child the money raised will be used to educate. But super inefficiently because of organizational overhead. Instead, if that parent was paid a fair wage to make the shirt, they could afford to educate their own child eliminating the need for charitable funds. Instead, that non-profit could invest in educating and supporting the teachers to make sure the education the parents are paying for is the highest quality available.

 

We hope the next time you get ready to purchase a for cause item, you’ll ask how it was manufactured. That you’ll demand better from the company selling it.

 

We know it seems counter-intuitive to pay more for a garment when trying to raise as much money as possible by selling it. We’ve had several proof of concept partners who have proven that when they could say the shirt itself is giving back before any message is printed on it, they actually sell more shirts and raise more money even with a higher cost of goods. When the entire product is ethically made, customers respond and find increased value in the purchase.

 

At GOEX, there’s nothing we love more than a customer who tells our story as part of their sales strategy and then calls to tell us how much more money they made as a result! But don’t just listen to us, here’s one success story!

 

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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4 Terms That Set GOEX Apart From Other Apparel Companies

 

GOEX is not your ordinary apparel company. We exist solely to improve the lives of the workers and communities we touch. We are proud to be an ethical company and want to share what that means to us by defining a few important terms that set us apart below.


1.) Ethical – A term used to describe a company’s commitment to applying responsible practices in all aspects of their business.  
  • It is important to us that we are ethical in everything we do, from how we obtain our fabric, all the way to print and distribution from our shop. This term means that by supporting our company, you are part of changing the lives of children and families domestically and internationally.

2.) Fair Trade – A trading partnership between businesses and suppliers based on dialogue, transparency and respect, with the intention to improve the labor conditions and quality of life for marginalized producers in production supply chains.
  • Fair Trade means a lot of things to a lot of different people. But if we get down to the nitty gritty, it means “better”. Better standards, better treatment of employees, better pay, better conditions, just better. At GOEX, we seek to do better in everything we do to support better lives for children and families.
  • We are proud to say GOEX is one of the elite few who have passed the Fair Trade Federation’s (FTF) rigorous screening!
  • GOEX is a member and abides by the workplace code of conduct of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), an initiative including companies, universities, and non-governmental organizations working together to improve workers’ lives.
3.) Strong Jobs – Not just a job, but a strong job. A  strong job means workers are able to support themselves and their family with what they earn.
  • We believe the best form of orphan care is orphan prevention, and the best form of orphan prevention is a strong job.
  • It’s important to us that our workers in our KC print shop and Port-Au-Prince Life S.A. facility make wages comparable to their location and are able to support themselves and their family.
  • Daily wages at Life S.A., our apparel manufacturing facility, are 65% higher than the sector minimum and our employees have the ability to earn 140%+ of minimum based on production. All operators are paid the same rate based on production and time worked regardless of age or sex.

4.) Sustainable – Production with purpose that goes beyond simply making a tee or high quality print and aims to minimally impact the environment.
  • We must value the producers, empower the workers, defend the rights of children AND be mindful of the earth while doing it. There are three key ways GOEX implements healthy sustainable, environmental practices.
    • 1. Responsible Sourcing
    • 2. Responsible Use
    • 3. Responsible Waste
  • A better t-shirt starts with better raw materials. Our tri-blend shirts are made from U.S-grown cotton, recycled polyester and rayon. Every tri-blend shirt contains the equivalent of approximately five plastic water bottles!
  • Mega-factory shirts will typically travel 16,000 miles in their production journey —  leaving toxic oil residue in the ocean. Our cotton is sourced right here in the U.S., shipped only 500 miles to Haiti to be sewn into shirts and shipped back to the U.S. for sale, leaving a much smaller carbon footprint than the traditional tee.

Read more on how we cultivate environmental stewardship.

 

These terms mean a lot to us at GOEX and we hope you take them into consideration when deciding which blank tee you select or which screen print shop you support because by making this simple decision, you have the ability to change the course of lives.


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!

Read more...

Cultivating Environmental Stewardship

 

The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.

—Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day

 

Cultivating Environmental Stewardship

If we work hard to practice Fair Trade principles, but fail to cultivate environmental stewardship, we have missed the mark. If we work hard to make things better for this generation, but in turn, make things harder for the next generation, we have missed the mark. We must value the producers, empower the workers, defend the rights of children, AND be mindful of the earth while doing it. This is the Fair Trade Federation’s 8th key principle.

 

Fair Trade Federation members seek to meet their own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This requires active consideration of the environmental impact of every decision the company makes and creative adaptations in business practices that advocate responsible stewardship of resources.

 

Simply put, members reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are three key ways GOEX implements healthy environmental practices.

 

1) Responsible Sourcing:

We incorporate sustainably grown materials into our products by sourcing our fabrics from Carolina Cotton Works in South Carolina — they offer a variety of recycled materials. We use Repreve, a recycled polyester yarn and then spin our tri-blend shirts from US-grown cotton, recycled polyester, and rayon. Every tri-blend shirt contains the equivalent of approximately 6 plastic water bottles!

 

 

2) Responsible Use:

A large part of environmental stewardship is the day-to-day operational practices we have established. Our screen printing facility in Kansas City operates from an environmental and sustainable neutral position. We work with local authorities and agencies to ensure that the disposal of all waste/excess is in accordance with our positive environmental policy. We have an electric car charging station at our office and print shop to encourage electric cars. We recently moved into a new industrial building with large windows and low dividing walls to capitalize on the natural light, thus conserving electricity.

 

The main challenge we face is screen printing effluence. We are currently evaluating a system to capture all of our effluence from printing in tanks and to recirculate them and dispose of them. Attention is given to our suppliers to ensure the types of chemicals included in their products are friendly to the environment.

 

 

3) Responsible Waste:

When we can, we take extreme care to avoid waste in the first place, but it’s near impossible to be a Zero Waste print shop. Instead, we focus our attention on how we want to responsibly handle the waste we can’t avoid. We go back to the elementary school basics: reduce, reuse, recycle.

 

When it makes sense, we gift extra materials from the production facility in Haiti to the community. For other materials, like plastic, paint, cardboard, etc., we diligently recycle! We also reuse screens, boxes and ink containers in an effort to reduce our overall consumption.

 

 

 

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!

Read more...

Fair Trade Federation Principle #2

Print Shop Staff- Kansas City

 

Developing Transparent and Accountable Relationships

Wouldn’t it be nice to know where the fabric of your shirt came from? Wait… what’s even in this fabric? Who made it? How much were they paid? Were they treated fairly?

 

What story does my shirt tell?

 

 

The second principle Fair Trade Federation members must exemplify is radical transparency.

 

 

Transparency creates accountability from customers to make sure companies maintain open, fair, consistent, and respectful partnerships. The entire trading chain must be shared through proactive communication to ensure that producers and customers feel actively involved in the process. Maybe most importantly, when we make mistakes, we must work humbly and cooperatively with partners to implement solutions.

 

Here’s how GOEX opens the door (literally) to reveal all the things you’ve wanted to know or never even thought to ask:

 

 

LIFE Apparel Staff – Haiti

 

USA Fabric —

We pay more for USA fabric because we can verify the origin of our goods from the cotton fields to finishing. We can visit any of the manufacturers involved in producing our raw materials.

 

Open Door Policy —

We have an open door policy both in our sewing facility in Haiti and in our print shop in Kansas City. When you visit either facility, you’re encouraged to talk with employees and get a better understanding of how we support the people who make your clothes.

 

Working Cooperatively —

Making a difference in entrenched systems is hard. The Fair Trade space is full of trial and error and we’re not the exception. We’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned many lessons.  And we’re always willing to share those lessons with other Fair Trade companies. From pay scales in Haiti to sales strategies in the US, we see the value in dialogue with companies working alongside us to make a difference for marginalized workers.

 

Employee Empowerment —

We want employees at every level of our organization to feel respected, engaged and part of the team. We send all employees in Kansas City to Haiti so they can understand our manufacturing and the impact it has on workers there. In Haiti, we work closely with the employees, union representatives and line supervisors to ensure any issues are addressed and resolved quickly and with respect.

 

Pricing Model —

We are completely transparent with our pricing model. After costs to produce premium apparel and provide living wage jobs, all GOEX profit — every bit of it — goes to fund projects set in motion by The Global Orphan Project.

 

 

 

You’re invited!

 

So, we invite you to come visit us — in Kansas City or in Haiti. See first-hand where your fabric came from, who made it, or how was printed. And keep putting the pressure on businesses to remain fair, honest, and transparent.

SEE OPEN TRIPS

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Fair Trade Federation Principle #1

 

We recently announced our membership into the Fair Trade Federation. The term “fair trade” is claimed by many, but fewer than 200 companies have been screened, verified and accepted by the FTF. This honor is followed by a commitment to uphold the nine principles on which FTF was founded.

 

We work each day to prove we are a business who does business differently. 

 

 

 

 

Principle #1: Create opportunities for economically and socially marginalized producers.

 

 

Poverty alleviation and sustainable development begins with thoughtful, careful partnerships. Makers, developers, producers, farmers, suppliers — they are the soul of craft and trade. However, these producers often face steep hurdles in finding markets and customers for their goods. FTF businesses should recognize this disparity and seek to create long term partnerships that prioritize the producers and their communities before anything else.

 

 

Over the years, as we fought with genuine hearts to break the orphan cycle, we learned many humbling lessons. One of the most important truths we have learned: The best form of orphan care is orphan prevention, and the best form of orphan prevention is a strong job.

 

 

 

 

Creating partnerships — in Haiti and in Kansas City

 

 

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere with an 85% unemployment rate. Workers in the apparel industry in Haiti work six days per week for a minimum wage that barely covers their daily expenses. It is our goal to disrupt that thought process and prove a company can charge more and pay more, therefore elevating the lives of their employees allowing them to care for their families and build a better future.

 

 

In Kansas City, we partner with the Full Employment Council to provide internships for disadvantaged young adults in the urban core and then connect qualified candidates with job opportunities within our network or hire them ourselves if we have openings.

 

 

The Story Continues 

This story started with a child, grew into an apparel company, prioritized the worker, and now continues with you. 

 

When you purchase a GOEX tee or select GOEX for fulfillment services, you are assured your choice supports marginalized people in both Haiti and the United States. And, because we’re solely owned by The Global Orphan Project, 100% of our profits are reinvested to support families in the U.S. and around the world. 

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