Monday, November 22, 2010


Fair Trade USA, the only third-party fair trade-certifier in the U.S, has launched a clothing certification that guarantees consumers that the clothing they purchase was not made in a sweatshop.

Heather Franzese, Senior Category Manager for Apparels and Linens at Fair Trade USA has led the development of international fair trade garment certification standards, meeting with cotton farmers and garment factory owners all over the world. I was told by the company that “On any given day, she might Skype with or visit in person workers and factories in India, Peru, Liberia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, or Nicaragua. She can speak about Fair Trade garments from the perspective of a worker, a factory owner, a cotton farmer and a U.S garment business owner.”

Pretty impressive.

Both the farms where the cotton is grown and the factories where the clothing is sewn are inspected and certified to ensure that there are both better working conditions and higher incomes for both farmers and traditionally underpaid garment workers.

Hopefully, Fair Trade USA will eventually work with the U.S where many farmers and garment factory workers stateside could use the help as well.

I caught up with Franzese to find out more about the launch of the certification for garments and textiles currently being set up in underdeveloped countries. Here’s what she had to say:

When did you launch the new certification?

Fair Trade Certified clothing is brand new in the U.S. The pilot standards for Fair Trade factories were published in March 2010 after several years in development. During a public comment period last year, we heard from 55 organizations in 15 countries and incorporated that input into the certification standards and process.

What brands have joined on as part of the certification?

A dozen pioneering companies have committed to launch Fair Trade Certified apparel and house wares. Organic pioneers like Maggie’s Organics and Indigenous Designs, as well as brand new eco-fashion brands like Liberty & Justice, which produces tees at a factory in Liberia that focuses on women’s empowerment.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Indigenous Designs: 15 Years of Fair Trade Fashion

Check out this episode of Conscious Living, from Hollywood, California--on the red carpet--for the 15th Anniversary of Indigenous Designs, a certified fair trade, organic clothing line.

On the guest list were some of Indigenous Designs’ biggest fans, including Hollywood fashionistas, entertainers, and actors, like Edin Gali of the hit series Mad Men. The highlight of the event was an eco-fashion show, which featured models wearing beautiful organic wool and cotton designs made by Peruvian artisans who are paid a fair living wage. Watch this episode to see how Co-founders Scott Leonard and Matt Reynolds are turning fashionistas into Passionistas!

Your Olive Branch Announces Winner of “I Love Fair Trade!” Contest

Following a summer-long open submission period and an online vote, Your Olive Branch is pleased to announce the winner of its I Love Fair Trade! contest. Bryan Parys, whose written submission, “Seeing Max in the Backyard,” garnered over 40% of the vote, will receive $2,000 worth of fair trade products from Alter-Eco and Indigenous Designs, two of the contest’s sponsors.

Throughout the summer, Your Olive Branch invited people across the world to creatively express what fair trade products mean to them through words, video, images, and other media. Dubbed “I Love Fair Trade,“ the contest’s entrants produced a rich variety of submissions covering topics such as the role fair trade products play in their lives, how and why they support fair trade, or how they think fair trade contributes to global peace and sustainability.

“The response was tremendous,” says Tom Willits, Your Olive Branch’s Executive Director. “To see people from across the globe sending us their words, their artwork, their videos, and even their songs about the importance of fair trade–it was a truly uplifting experience.”

After reviewing all of the submissions, the contest judges selected ten finalists. From then on, the winner was to be determined by an online vote based on the ten creative pieces, all of which are still on display at

Bryan Parys’s “Seeing Max in the Backyard,” a work of creative non-fiction, can be viewed in its entirety here.