Brand Spotlight: Mata Traders
by Sica Schmitz | Posted on June 11 2016
Known for their classic, feminine cuts and colorful, wearable prints, this month we spotlight Mata Traders
, one of our Fair Trade
Mata Traders was started by three best friends inspired by their travels through India and a desire to share their love of the local people, markets, and colorful textiles. Through partnerships with several fair trade organizations in India and Nepal, they train and employ hundreds of artisans in marginalized communities with a focus on gender equity and empowering women. By providing fair wages, education, health services, and preserving traditional artisan skills, they are using fashion as a tool to fight poverty, end child labor, and bring dignity to those who both make and wear their clothing.
How does Mata Traders define Fair Trade?
At Mata Traders, we see fair trade as a movement to end global poverty by paying people a livable wage for the products they make. It's that simple. Fair trade disrupts conventional business practices that seek to maximize profits by driving down the cost of labor. When you think about the costs associated with producing a product and bringing it to market - the materials, the transportation, the sales costs, etc. - most of those costs are fixed, so it's the labor that ends up being driven down and down. A fair trade business model like ours still needs to make a profit to survive, but the primary mission is to provide a stable income and the resources to get out of poverty for the workers and their communities.
What is the most rewarding part of working within Fair Trade?
There are a lot of rewarding parts of our work! Right away what comes to mind is the relationships we have with our artisans and being able to see the positive changes that happen over the years. It's really neat the way we are directly connecting women here with women in the countries we work in, making products that are meaningful, have good karma and a positive impact. It makes it easy to sell them and be passionate about them. Another rewarding part of our work is the processes and artisan techniques we use. We are celebrating artisan skills and making unique, handmade products that you can't get anywhere else.
How many artisans work for you?
Approximately 1150 artisans had a hand (or two) in making our Spring/Summer 2016 collection.
You were started by women, employ women (both here and abroad), and embrace femininity in your styles. What role do women play in changing the world?
As mothers, leaders, activists, and educators, women are changing the world. Maybe the most important factor to ending poverty is education, and one way to ensure that all children get that education is by empowering women. That's what we've seen with our artisans - once they start earning a living, they prioritize sending their kids to school. These are women that probably didn't get more than a 4th grade education themselves. Fair trade allows women to change the world - it gives them voice, skills, the opportunity to do something outside of the home, and the resources to be change-makers in their families and communities.
Aside from through shopping, are there ways American women can help empower/support women in marginalized areas?
Volunteering, fundraising, and/or donating to non-profits that are doing good work. Take part in Dressember
this year. If you want to specifically support fair trade
, besides through shopping, I encourage people to tell their friends and family about their favorite brands. Word of mouth is the best advertising. You can also get involved in local fair trade campaigns
in your city, town, campus, or congregation. These campaigns are working to increase consumer awareness, retail availability, and institutional procurement of fair trade
goods at the local level.
Enjoy 30% off Mata Traders with this week's sale!