July 10, 2010: by Joyce Hu, Creative Director for Wildlife Works Retail:
I started today working with the factory manager, Daniel, to develop the patterns I want to launch with this winter. I briefly met the women working in the factory – there are about 10 right now. They are busy with a big order for ASOS in London.
The factory has produced product for many of the big eco fashion labels such as Loomstate and EDUN. White label business is always less desirable because their work is dependent on the clients’ pricing, business, etc. The main goal of this factory is to create and sustain skilled jobs for the local community so having our own successful label with vertical integration is ideal.
Last weekend, we went to Diani Beach, one of the world’s top white sand beach resort getaways.
Diani also hosts a fair trade sewing factory that ships internationally. Soko Kenya is run by an English gal, Joanna Maiden, who came to Kenya right out of uni and was inspired to set up shop to provide jobs in the local community. She’s been in business for 2 years and is already profitable, but barely.
She was stressed about a check for her workers’ pension that hadn’t cashed since she sent it in Feb for the amount of 20,000 shillings which is about $250. Employers are require by law to contribute to pension but nobody believes they will receive a penny of it. I’m not sure it’s been legal for long enough for a retiree to reap or be cheated out of it so we can’t be sure the system is working.
Our relaunch collection is inspired by the beautiful Khangas worn by East African women. These are some of the khangas I picked up on this trip: