Fair Trade standards are part of Indigenous' DNA:
- We Provide fair wages in the local context
- Support safe, healthy, and participatory workplaces
- Supply financial and technical support as well as shared community planning to build capacity
- Ensure environmental sustainability, (including using: Organic certified cotton, GOTS processing, and Oekotex 100 approved dyes)
- Respect and embrace cultural identity, of families and community
- Build direct and long-term relationships
- Educate and collaborate with partners on sustainability
Partners - Jessica Rodriguez
Jessica is a close partner with Indigenous. Here she tells the story of creating opportunity for knitters in southern Peru through collaboration within the Indigenous' fair trade + organic production model. Jessica Rodriguez has been recognized by Hillary Clinton for her important work.
Over a decade ago, we met Jessica, while traveling in the Andes of Peru. At that time Jessica was producing hand made organic knits and working with just a few employees. Her mission was to provide a sustainable living to the many women in remote areas who had no access to work. We shared in Jessica's vision, and through planning and commitment, set forth on a path together to bring opportunity to these women. Thanks to the wonderful response from socially responsible customers like you Indigenous has been able to slowly build up capacity and provide stable work for the artisans, and Jessica now manages and supports over 700 families throughout the highlands of Peru!
Artisans - Mario & Maria Huisa
This is the story of Mario and Maria Huisa. They are just one of the 700 family members who have benefited from collaboration over the past decade. When Jessica first met Maria and Mario, they were living and working in a modest brick home in the highlands of Peru. Together, Mario and Maria wanted to find opportunities to work within their village while continuing to practice their ancestral knitting heritage. They also wanted to find a way to help support their community. Jessica recognized a special spark within Mario and Maria. She explained, 'They had passion and wanted to make a difference within their village and family, but because of their distant location the opportunity for work was scarce.' Through collaboration with Indigenous and Jessica, Mario and Maria were provided with just the opportunity they needed. They started with only one knitting machine and the passion to make a difference in their community.
Today, Mario and Maria have built a new home, own ten knitting machines, four linking machines and provide work for up to 40 artisan knitters within their community. Mario and Maria shared in our vision and the fundamental belief that if given the opportunity, change could happen. They are just one example of the courage and tenacity that indigenous artisans possess. Thank you for allowing us to provide the opportunity for change.
Truly Fair Trade
The artisan is one of our most valued partnerships. This is not charity but rather paying a fair wage for their masterful work while providing the necessary assistance to help make the artisan more successful in the international marketplace.
Indigenous partners directly with organizations to provide training, educational materials, financing and equipment that otherwise could not be afforded. As we continue to grow we will endeavor to connect the company's long-term financial performance to that of the individual artisans.
Most of the artisans in the Indigenous Peruvian hand knit work groups live in the south of Peru in surrounding countryside of Pampa Canahuas Reserve. Prior to hand-knit job opportunities with Indigenous, these artisans were unable to assess their true market value and frequently exchanged their hand-knit products for food. In addition to earning a fair living wage that is far greater what they would earn otherwise, the artisan partnership with Indigenous also provides access to much higher quality organic cotton and natural fiber yarn, knitting needles (often replacing old bicycle spokes), free training on knitting for international quality standards and future opportunity for advancement to become a trainer.
Many of the hand-looming artisan work groups are based in the cities of Arequipa, Lima and Ayaviri. Each hand-looming work group is composed of 4 to 20 people, but could employ as many as 60 people depending on the number of machines in each work group and the timing of production. Conventional textile companies typically allocate only 50% to 60% of production costs to raw material and labor. Indigenous partners allocate over 75% of the production costs to raw material and labor.
When not working for Indigenous, the artisans sell their products to local markets, including producing traditional attire and handicrafts.
We believe our fair trade production model is one of the most stable, equitable and profitable foreign trade models in existence. We are confident that for every Indigenous garment purchased more money is going to directly support artisans than any other apparel company on the planet. And while many companies are moving into organic apparel, virtually none adheres to fair labor standards to the extent we do