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An Indian Affair

It’s complicated. It’s simple. It’s simple and it’s complicated.

There is much, much debate over the circumstances of fairtrade in different industries, and while most of us can agree that the principle of responsible supply is sound and ethical, there are many more eminently qualified than myself to deliver robust opinions and arguments on the subject.

I can tell you that Whollygrail is committed to responsible sourcing of products and services wherever possible. We have gone to great lengths to research and identify the channels and supply partners we are confident and comfortable with, as responsible suppliers of integrity.

In this article, I am so pleased to share with you our GOTS certified organic and certified fairtrade cotton textile manufacturer.

The process begins with the farmers’ cooperative. The collective are guaranteed fair price for their crops, securing the health and stability of many families and communities in India.

Our supply partners are a long standing organic and fairtrade manufacturer, having weathered the years of competition against impossibly cheap toxic products that exploit workers in the pursuit of the lowest possible cost price.

Our manufacturer employs several hundred workers across factories throughout India. I had the pleasure of visiting these factories and spending time with the people who are responsible for making our designs come to life. These people work in the factories, and are part owners in the business, with a vested interest in their continued success.

It’s no surprise that many of these employees have worked within the business for many years, and once they arrive to work with the business, most stay until retirement. There is an impressive medical plan that is standard for all employees that I think I would love to be a part of (the state of private health insurance is another story). Not long before I arrived to visit, there was a young lady employed in the business with a very sick toddler – a $7000 operation was required (by Indian standards an incredibly involved operation rarely conducted). The company’s medical insurance covers the family along with the employee. The news was all good: operation proceeds, outcome successful and much cause for celebration within the company’s rank and file.

The commitment to the business and the pride evident in their day to day work is clear and present throughout my travels. From the people who create food to nourish the workers each day, to the people who screen print our designs and those responsible for ensuring orders are made to specification, there is a strong sense of pride and detail in their approach.

A special mention must go to the master patternmaker within the business. I had in mind the design for the apron that we intended for Whollygrail – a little different to conventional aprons but one that accommodated adjustment and allowed for even distribution of pressure across the back and hips – ensuring there was no concentrated pressure on the shoulders.

He was in the office in a snap. Looked at me with a broad smile and elegantly waved his tape measure a couple of times. We clarified a few details, and within the next couple of hours, I had the template of the Whollygrail apron, as I had imagined. It felt like we should have been in a film – very impressive. It was some time later when I found out he was the very, very first employee when RCM-Organic began. Says something doesn’t it?

There’s no doubt much patience is required – while there is much progress and broadening prosperity within India, the services and infrastructure are still stubbornly slow and inadequate. Despite this, there is continuing optimism and always an appreciation for what they have and where they are – a note to self.