We have a ton of bags in our house. Plastic bags for groceries, wet bags for swim and beach stuff, overnight bags for trips, sleeping bags for camping (ok, those don’t really count :D) – not to mention purses for 3 girls, dress up, and EVERYONE needs a hand bag for bringing their bibles to church.
Of all the bags that we have, my favourites are the ones we’ve bought and received through fair trade companies. There’s just something about knowing the love and passion that went into the making of the bag; the life that was rescued from slavery, the hands that were used to bring freedom from poverty, the heads that once hung low in defeat now lifted high with faces that radiate the light of joy and hope.
There are some really popular accessory companies and businesses out there who make little or no effort to be held accountable for their production and actions. And it’s our voices calling for change and how we vote with where we spend our money that shifts the standard.
It’s important to know who makes the products we buy and how – and where possible, to make a difference, to start somewhere, small, with just one change to ethically produced products.
Freeset is a bag and apparel manufacturing business whose purpose is to provide these women with a way out of prostitution, or in the case of younger women, a way to avoid it altogether. Women are employed on the basis of their need for a job, not the skills they bring to it. They are trained, paid a good wage and signed up to a health insurance plan and pension fund. For many it is the first time they can be proud of the place they work. Best of all they begin their journey to freedom.
Ali from Kindred Apparel gives us a bit more insight into the impact fair trade products have on not just the lives of those who are making them, but the change in our own hearts, and why it’s such an important vision to strive for and uphold:
Freeset and Life Beyond the Street
How did Kindred Apparel begin?
Kindred began back in the summer of 2009 when I was freshly graduated from a professional photography course. I spent the whole time at school talking about how I wanted to focus my photography towards humanitarian causes and awareness. I dreamt of working with NGO’s and charitable organizations, wanting to make a difference in the world.
Geared up to start my first ever business venture, I ended up meeting one of Freeset’s former staff members in my home town at the market selling their bags. She was fundraising to go over seas to begin working as a volunteer with them. As I browsed, she casually mentioned to me that they were looking for a Canadian Distributor.
Something clicked. It was that immediate. I walked away enthralled with the idea. I think it took my husband a little while to realize how seriously and instantly I was set on this.
Here was a company that brought together every facet of both my personal values and interests – humanitarian objectives accomplished through leveraging business and media, used for the freedom and employment of others. I jumped in with both feet and I’ve never looked back!
How are you working with Freeset and what is it that continues to draw you to their organization?
Kindred is the official Canadian Distributor for Freeset products. This means that we facilitate the communications & importation of Freeset good into Canada with the goal of making it as easy as possible for customers to connect with their goods.
The draw to working with Freeset is how well rounded, thoughtful, and high quality of a program they have established themselves as. Not only is their business model top notch, so are their products.
What is the mission and vision of your company?
I feel like answers to this type of question can often get over complicated, or over calculated. It’s this simple for us at Kindred:
Every day, every customer, every email, every tiny bit matters – the aggregate of which results in change and opportunity for those who have a right to the same freedoms that we enjoy.
The motivation to continue in turn, is its own reward. So we keep going, working at seeing the efforts we put forward in Canada multiply into more jobs every year for women at Freeset.
What does Fair Trade mean to you?
To me Fair Trade means that we’re paying attention. By purchasing Fair Trade it is a statement to manufactures that we care as much about the product and what it brings to our lives, as the people who made it and what that brought to their lives.
How would you encourage someone to begin making changes and purchases that make a difference?
Do what you can, where you can, when you can. It’ll add up.
There is so much being presented to us as consumers through out the day. It can feel overwhelming to consider all the choices we make in 24hrs. It can go from overwhelming to frustrating when you begin to realize there is no alternative for ethical product choices.
Let yourself off the hook a little on how huge of an issue this all is, and just start by trying to pay attention to the choices that you can make now. (YES!)
Send a message with your money in the ways that are available to you at the moment, and if we all take this into consideration the marketplace will see this trend and start offering us more of what we want. Fair trade chocolate, coffee, bananas are common now, and hopefully soon, so will a list of other products.
Won’t you stand with me in supporting the production and spread of fair trade products that make a difference?
Place an order from Kindred Apparel for Freeset products and use the code FROMHOME to receive 25% off your order.
So the next time you need a new handbag, or an iPad sleeve, cosmetics, sunglasses and handy pouches, a purse, or a custom t-shirt or bag for an event or company, would you look first at Kindred Apparel and Freeset? Your purchase doesn’t just make you happy (because you will love the quality, not to mention vast designs and products available!) – it brings hope and the opportunity to change lives for families and women in Kalcutta who otherwise may not live to know that there is life beyond the street.