Monday, July 1, 2013

The Price of Clothing -- and Your Soul

Where are your clothes from?  Where were they made?  The person who made them, did he or she earn a living wage, in safe conditions?  Were they treated fairly?  Did they have any workplace protection, or an entity (like OSHA) that could take up their cause if they felt practices were exploitative or dangerous?

Here's an eye-opening, cool scroll-overable infographic that shows where major manufacturers have their goods made and how much the average worker is paid.

I just can't rationalize that "in these countries, 50 cents a day is a good wage," because I don't believe that you should pay your workers as little as you can get away with.  You should pay them what they are worth and reflect what their labor is worth TO YOU (I guess this is where the "and your soul" part of the title applies).

The Car Seat Poncho is made entirely in the USA, at a factory that pays a good, competitive wage, provides health care, complies with OSHA and other federal, state and municipal safety codes and is regularly inspected and certified.  And what I pay that factory includes more than labor.  It includes the cost of the owner's overhead, which literally provides for what's over one's head:  The factory building is solid, clean, well-maintained, and properly constructed to accomodate heavy equipment and the vibrations caused by hundreds of sewing machines.
And true, just because a factory is in the US doesn't guarantee any of the above.  But doing business in a place where I can frequently visit, walk through, look people in the eye and read the employee bulletin board removes 99.9% of any doubt.

The price of the Car Seat Poncho reflects the decision that our company has made not to exploit or take advantage of people -- in this country or around the world -- who want to work and provide decent, healthy lives for themselves and their families.  No one should have to work for almost nothing (while others profit lavishly). 

This principle also applies to people like the factory owners I work with, who do right by their employees and right by their customers -- they deserve a fair profit.  And it includes people like me, who invent, design, market, manage, process and ship the products!

No one should have to give her labor away.  Please don't ask her to.