Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hot Topic: What is Fair Trade?

In America, it’s easy to forget that there are so many people in the world who are forced to work in unhealthy conditions with poor wages just so they can provide a meal for their family. Fair trade is an organized commitment to eradicate poor working conditions and disproportionate wages around the world. For toy manufacturers and consumers, this means more than just which country your products are made. It means being actively involved in choosing the right manufacturer that holds to higher standards for their employees. We often talk to our customers about fair trade because it is a topic of growing global concern.

At Sarah’s Silks, we are continually working hard to ensure that our products are made responsibly. Mike has personally visited the sewing factory in China and seen first-hand the fair working conditions there. Our playsilks are all hand-hemmed in a village outside of Shanghai. These women work from their homes. Thus, they are able to be with their children and provide income for their families at the same time. While much of the sewing is done in China, we still employ families here in California to sew, package and assemble some of our items. The process to find fair trade cooperatives for silk toys has been quite a challenge. However, it is something that Sarah’s Silks is certainly committed to and constantly working on.

On the horizon, Mike will be making another trip to China with new sets of requirements and questions for our factories, so that we can keep checking the standards and keep our customers informed. Mike has also been tirelessly learning Mandarin Chinese (not an easy feat!) every day, so that he can try to directly communicate better with the employees and supervisors. We are also investigating new certification programs through international inspection companies to try to align with certified textile manufacturers. This is all an ongoing mission for us, and I can assure you that social responsibility is a high priority for Sarah's Silks.

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