What *is* an Ethical Boutique?
by Sica Schmitz | Posted on September 15 2017
A very good question I received recently is: what makes Bead & Reel an ethical boutique?
I've made a point about being very transparent about our ethics, but these days greenwashing is getting more and more common, so it's even more important to ask companies why and how they are upholding their claimed values, and I would love to share a bit about why I consider Bead & Reel an ethical boutique.
I look for a lot of things in the brands we carry: wearability, agreeability, and shared values, and have all of the brands at Bead & Reel sign a contract agreeing to these standards:
- Opportunities for Producers
Supplier creates social and economic opportunities through trading partnerships with producers. Supplier places the interests of producers and their communities as a primary concern of their enterprise.
- Transparent and Accountable Relationships
Supplier maintains relationships that are open, fair, consistent, and respectful. Supplier shows consideration for merchants, customers, and producers by sharing information about the entire trading chain through honest and proactive communication.
- Hours of Work
Producers are not expected to work more than 40 regular hours of work per week, with a maximum of eight hours per day. Should the producer choose to work additional offered hours they are guaranteed overtime, which is paid at higher rates than normal working hours.
- Prompt and Fair Payment
Supplier take steps to ensure that producers have the capacity to set prices within the framework of the true costs of labor time, materials, sustainable growth, and related factors. Supplier complies with or exceeds international, national, and local wage standards for their employees and producers. Supplier seeks to ensure that income is distributed equitably at all times, particularly equal pay for equal work by women and men. Supplier ensures prompt payment to all of their partners.
- Safe and Empowering Working Conditions
Supplier creates a safe and healthy working environment free of forced labor. Throughout the trading chain, Supplier cultivates workplaces that empower people to participate in the decisions that affect them. Supplier seeks to eliminate discrimination based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, age, marital, or health status. Supplier supports workplaces free from physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal harassment or abuse.
- Ensure the Rights of Children
Throughout the trading chain, Supplier respects and supports the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that all children have the right to security, education, and play. Supplier adheres to local laws and social norms and will disclose the involvement of children in production. Supplier does not support child trafficking or exploitative child labor.
Supplier acknowledges that the general minimum age for admission to employment or work is 16 years of age.
- Cultivate Environmental Stewardship
Supplier actively considers the implications of their decisions on the environment and promote the responsible stewardship of resources. Supplier reduces, reuses, reclaims, and recycles materials wherever possible. Supplier encourages environmentally sustainable practices throughout the entire trading chain.
- Animal Welfare
Supplier understand that Merchant is a vegan company, meaning no animal products, including but not limited to leather, wool, silk, bone, and feathers, are allowed to be sold through Merchant. Supplier offers transparent textiles and fiber information on all Goods.
While it is impossible for me to personally visit and monitor every factory and every step of the supply chain of over 60+ suppliers, I work really hard to build honest, transparent relationships with every brand we sell - and have and will cut ties with any who are found to violate our standards, both the contractual ones and also just the basic decency ones.
As a small business there are a lot of things I simply don't have the time or resources to do: I wish I could work in a LEED-certified building, and map the life-cycle of every item we sell, and monitor the greenhouse gasses associated with running an e-commerce business. But while I can't necessarily do those things (yet), at Bead & Reel I am committed to:
- Buying recycled, Made in USA packaging to use for shipping all orders from our Los Angeles studio (orders shipped from other locations may use different packaging).
- Running a stringent office recycling program of plastic, paper, glass, ink, and batteries.
- Donating to GRID Alternatives to bring low income families solar energy as a way of of participating in carbon offset.
- Donating 3% of Bead & Reel's revenue to a rotating Charity of the Month.
- Providing exclusively vegan food and drinks at all Bead & Reel events, photoshoots, and meetings.
- Paying interns to continue my commitment to fair wages.
- Doing all business (and personal, if you'd like to know!) banking with a credit union, so that Bead & Reel's income is not used to finance the Dakota Access Pipeline, private prisons, or other projects that go entirely against everything Bead & Reel stands for
- Learning, changing, and evolving as often as possible.
If you ever have questions about the practices, standards, or definitions used at Bead & Reel, please don't ever hesitate to write me!