Ethical Manufacturing

  • Apr202018

    What is The Fashion Revolution?

    “Fashion revolution is a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. The goal is to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, so that what the world wears has been made in a safe, clean, and fair way.” http://fashionrevolution.org/

    Fashion revolution started after the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013, killing over 1,100 people. The need was realized for more transparency in supply chains and for consumers to be aware of how their clothes are actually being made and the possible negative parts of the supply chain, such as exploitation of the workers and pollution of the environment. If there is transparency, consumers can identify whether or not people are being exploited in the supply chain or the environment is being harmed. Fashion revolution aims to restructure the fashion industry to value people and the environment while still creating profit for businesses. At Purnaa, we stand behind the vision of Fashion Revolution.

     

    Here are 3 ways Purnaa is committed to improving our part of the Fashion Industry.

     

    1. We strive for transparency; anyone can come take a tour of our facilities, and we are open about who made your clothes, featuring our workers on our website through pictures and interviews.

    1. With our Custom Print Gear line we have our supply chains listed out in detail and explain the sustainable processes used in production.  We love that we can offer an ethical and sustainable option for custom print merchandise. Check it out!

    Sustainable Supply Chain Infographic

    1. We do our best to take care of the environment. We use environmentally friendly fabrics in our products, such as organic cotton, bamboo, and vegetable dyed leather. We also up-cycle overstock fabric. Whenever possible we use leftover fabric from a project to make a whole new product. In the past year we have partnered with Doko to recycle our waste.

    Doko Recycling Training

     

     

    We would like to see everyone become involved in the Fashion Revolution, whether you are a producer, retailer, or a consumer. We encourage you to ask the question, “Who made my clothes?” Change starts to happen when people become aware of an issue and seek to find more information about it.

     

    Here are 4 ways YOU can become involved today.

     

    1. Take a picture showing the label of your clothes and use social media or email to ask the brand #WhoMadeMyClothes?

    1. Research and find out more about how to change the fashion industry. Fashion Revolution provides many resources, including How To Be A Fashion Revolutionary.

    1. The next step after becoming informed is to change shopping habits to align with what has been learned. Use the information you have gathered to only shop from brands that you know are treating their supply chain and the environment ethically. If you are not able to afford buying from ethical brands, there is always the option to buy second hand. This helps to eliminate some of the waste produced from the fast fashion industry.

     

    1. If you are a producer or a retailer, let the public know who the people are who made the clothes. Be open and transparent about where and how your items are produced. Show consumers that you are a company that they can trust is treating people and the environment properly.

    Raising awareness is a huge step in bringing about change in the fashion industry. If people know what is going on, then they will be able to find ways to help prevent the negative side effects from happening. At Purnaa we are transparent. You know how we are treating the environment and you know who made your clothes, you can even stop by and meet them personally!

     

    Purnaa Store
  • Mar302018

    4 Easy Steps For Saving Big Using the Nepal Trade Preference Program

    To encourage economic development after Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake, the USA granted special trade preference to Nepal and now offers DUTY-FREE TREATMENT to certain products, including:

    • many kinds of handbags,
    • suitcases,
    • sports bags;
    • various carpets;
    • gloves;
    • scarves and shawls;
    • and hats and other headgear.

    You can save up to 20% on products made in Nepal. Follow the simple tips below to capitalize on this Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2015.

    How do I take advantage of the Nepal Trade Preference?

    1. Check to see if your products are included in this Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2015.  Section 915 lists 66 subheadings of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of products when made in Nepal that will receive duty free entry to the United States.

    You can use this website (https://hts.usitc.gov/) to look up your product, or the various HS Codes listed in the trade preference. If you see an “NP” in the column marked “Special”, then it’s time to celebrate! This indicates that your product is included in the Trade Preference Program.

     

    2. Buy items from Nepal on the list of 66 products and ensure that the manufacturing step in Nepal is adding at least 35% value and is more than simple combining or packaging operations.

     

    3. Ensure your manufacturer in Nepal fills out a GSP Form A and Certificate of Origin, declaring your items as one of those on the list of 66 HS Codes, annotating Nepal trade preference with an “NP” next to the HS Code, gets it signed and stamped on export by the Nepal Customs department, and sends you copies.

     

     

    4. Before your goods arrive, let your customs broker or shipping company know that your items are eligible for the Nepal Trade Preference and request they declare them accordingly.

     

     

    How long will the trade preference last? Until 2025

     

    Do other countries qualify for the Trade Preference? The Trade Preference only applies to products made in Nepal, shipped to the US. However, because Nepal is a Least Developed Country under the GSP system and a former conflict country, many countries such as those in the EU and Canada offer special duties discount to goods that come from Nepal. Each country’s rules may be different.

     

    What if I am still charged duties? Purnaa has produced goods for many customers that qualify for the Trade Preference. However, a few customers have still been charged duties. We assume this is because a country specific Trade Preference is quite rare and few customs officials are aware of Nepal specific rules.  If your goods mistakenly get charged import duties even though they are on the Trade Preference list, you can request a refund.

     

    How do I know if my product is one listed in the Trade Preference? At Purnaa, we can advise you if your product is included in the Trade Preference, and we can even give some advice for product changes to help take advantage of the program. But in the end, it’s up to you to check that your product meets the classification criteria of the US HTS system.  You can use this website (https://hts.usitc.gov/) to look up your product, or the various HS Codes listed in the trade preference. If you see an “NP” in the column marked “Special”, your product is included in the Trade Preference Program.

     

    Nepal is a country with higher than 40% unemployment, which leads to a people who are very vulnerable to exploitation.  When you choose to manufacture at Purnaa in Nepal, not only can you save money with this trade preference law, but you will also help to employ marginalized people and survivors of exploitation.

     

    At Purnaa, we love to make products for clients that value ethical manufacturing and transparent supply chains.  So, check out the US-Nepal Trade Preference Program and consider manufacturing your products here in Nepal. This could be the beginning of a beautiful partnership.

     

    Get a Production Quote Here to explore if Purnaa is a good fit for your manufacturing needs.

    Purnaa Store
  • Feb282018
    Cotton Plant

    Why is Organic Cotton the Right, Sustainable Choice?

    At Purnaa we’re passionate about using organic instead of conventional cotton, but what are the benefits and why is it the right, sustainable choice?

     

    With a global population that is becoming increasingly conscious of the impact of their buying habits, many have become more aware of the environmental benefits of buying organic cotton. At Purnaa, we believe the individual has the power to change the environmental and social progression of their society through their purchasing decisions.

    We would like to see organic and sustainable apparel become the new norm.

     

    So, what do we mean when we use the term organic?

    The term ‘Organic’ refers to crops that are grown without the use of pesticides, artificial fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Organisms. Organic cotton is grown and farmed in a way that has a low impact on the environment, much lower than conventional cotton which is the type of cotton most of us are used to wearing and buying.

    The production systems used for organic cotton maintain and replenish soil fertility without the use of toxic pesticides or fertilizers. Third-party certification organizations verify that the cotton is grown and produced using only the methods that are authorized for organic production.

     

    Ethical Garment Manufacturing

     

    What are the negatives to using non-organic (conventional) cotton?

    Conventional cotton uses approximately 20% of the world’s insecticides and it takes around 20,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of cotton. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown without toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and is 80% rain water fed.

    According to Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills in India, there have been dire social impacts on Indian farmers who grow conventional cotton. They report farmers suffering from severe health issues, both physical and mental. There’s a great deal of pressure on Indian cotton farmers regarding the success of their crop, the continual use of pesticides can result in bankruptcy which has been attributed to the increased suicide rates amongst Indian farmers.

     

    Custom Print Organic Cotton Tote    Custom Print Drawstring Bag

    What organic cotton products does Purnaa offer?

    Purnaa’s new Custom Print Range includes organic cotton t-shirts, bags and hats. The fabric that we use is certified by the Global Organic Textiles Standard  (GOTS). GOTS is recognized as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers. It defines high-level environmental and social compliance criteria along the entire organic textiles supply chain. If you’re conscious about the environment as well as your health then consider making organic cotton clothing a staple part of your wardrobe. 

    If you would like to develop a product made from organic, sustainable materials and become a Purnaa production partner then please fill out our ‘Get Started’ form.

    We need to take care of our planet as there’s no planet B.

    Purnaa Store
  • Feb232018
    Custom Print Gear Beanie

    Custom Print Gear – Your Option For Ethical, Sustainable Merchandise

    Purnaa Custom Print Gear is your ethical and sustainable custom print option for merchandise, and here’s why!

     

    How to Do Custom Print Merch the RIGHT Way

    Globally, many companies order custom print merchandise for their employees or customers, putting their logo or message on products to get the word out about their brand. But while some recognize this as an effective marketing tool, they often miss an effortless trick to engage their staff and further their CSR impact.

    When you choose to order from Purnaa’s Custom Print Gear (CPG) you help to create positive social impact and support dignified, sustainable employment. As a Fair Trade, ethical manufacturer based in Nepal, Purnaa empowers marginalized people and survivors of exploitation to fresh starts and fulfilled lives.

     

    Why should I buy merchandise from Purnaa?

    Unemployment in Nepal is higher than 40% and gender based inequality is rife. Purnaa exists to create employment opportunities and support those who’ve been affected by the social inequalities and injustices that are abundant here. We believe that every business has the potential to create social change through the positive purchasing decisions that they make. Dignified employment and providing a living wage truly changes lives and should be the standard in every country, as it is in most countries in the West.

     

    Why did Purnaa start the Custom Print Gear line?

    Purnaa’s Custom Print Gear inception began when we noticed that, ironically, many companies with anti-exploitation initiatives or those committed to stopping human trafficking, were buying merchandise made in sweatshops. Sweatshops are factories that pay incredibly low wages and require long work-days in poor working conditions.  Furthermore their workers often lack the freedom to leave and are stuck in bonded labor.  It’s this type of employment which traps garment workers in a cycle of poverty.

    It was that irony that motivated us to create Custom Print Gear, that and the firm belief that business can bring positive change to the world. We are working to become the best and most sustainable custom print option. Offering custom print merchandise made from fabric that is traceable through a transparent supply chain and by workers paid fair-wages in good working conditions. Our team had faith that when companies become aware of these issues, they would choose to buy ethically-made products.  We have been encouraged by the early success of the range.

     

    T-Shirt Graph

     

    What does Purnaa mean by “sustainable fabric”?

    Sustainability is a key focus of Purnaa’s. The traditional garment supply chain is highly damaging to the environment due to the chemical and water intensive processes of creating and dyeing fabric. Our CPG range is mostly made organic cotton which comes from a GOTS, SA8000, Fair Trade certified supplier in India. We also offer a bamboo hoodie in our range, this fabric comes from an Oeko-Tex 100 supplier in China that uses closed-loop viscose and dyeing processes. 

    Every product on our website has meticulous information about the supply chain of each product, it’s provenance and exactly how much it costs to make. Making it the most transparent custom print merchandise available in the market today.

     

     

    Custom merchandise is often considered a throw-away product. We want to change consumer perceptions by offering high quality products that connect the consumer with the producers of their clothing.

    These are slow fashion products, classically designed and made to last a long life in your wardrobe therefore, every product is tagged with a lokta paper (traditional Nepali paper that is ethically-made) hangtag that is signed by the team who made your product.

     

    How can I order, what are the minimums that I can buy?

    Companies can order customized t-shirts, hoodies, hats and bags from our online store. We have an easy-to-use tool which lets you design your product exactly to your specification. You can then submit this order and wait 1-2 working days for us to contact them with a design proof. When you are completely satisfied with your design, follow the payment link we will send you to confirm your order.

     

    Orders Within the USA

    T-Shirts – from 24 pieces and up

    Baseball Caps – from 12 pieces and up

    These products are in stock in the US and will take 2-3 weeks to deliver from the time of confirmation. Free shipping is included for these products.

    All other products have an MOQ of 500 pieces and will take 2-3 months to deliver as we fulfil these order directly from Nepal.

     

    International Orders

    All of our CPG products have an MOQ of 500 pieces. These also take 2-3 months to deliver, please contact us for prices if you live outside the USA.

     

    Want to find out more? Contact us directly as customprintgear@purnaa.com

    Purnaa Store
  • Feb022018
    Purnaa Anita Bag

    The Making of the Anita Bag

    The Anita Bag has been one of our most popular Purnaa products to date, so we thought we would give you a closer look at how it is produced.

    The bag is made with 100% cotton canvas, eco-friendly genuine leather, and hand-woven Nepali dhaka fabric. We have used four new dhaka variations for this line offering several options for a fresh take on a classic.

    All of our products start with a design and sampling. Since we have made this bag before, we already had the design and sample completed. After a sample is made and an order is confirmed, we work on sourcing the correct fabric. For this bag – the canvas, leather, and zippers are imported from India. The dhaka is made by a local factory in Kathmandu.

    Once the fabric arrives, our Cutting Team layers it and traces the pattern pieces on the top layer. This is a very precise process because we are committed to maximizing our use of the fabric and minimize any waste.

    After the fabric is cut, Team Laliguras gets to work sewing the bags. There are 15 different sewing steps and 7 different machines involved in making this bag. The sewing team works together to make the finished product, taking turns completing the steps. The Anita bag features one large zippered pocket on the front, two smaller pockets inside, and a snap at the top to close the bag.

    Starting out, it does not look like a bag. The team slowly adds more and more pieces to make it all come together.

    With so many steps, it is definitely a team effort. Team Laliguras is very supportive and encouraging of each other. If anyone needs help, they gladly lend a hand to  one another. It is also very common to find them chatting and laughing while they work throughout the day.

    Once the sewing is complete, each piece is checked by our Quality Control team to make sure there are no irregularities.

    After passing quality control, the bags are tagged and packed by our Packing Team and then sold in our outlet in Nepal or to wholesalers around the world. To purchase the Anita bag at wholesale rates or to find a retailer, please visit our wholesale page.

    Purnaa Store
  • Jan122018
    Custom Print Gear Video Shoot

    Behind the Scenes of the Purnaa Video

    Purnaa recently launched our new line of Custom Print Gear, a growing collection of ethically sourced and manufactured t-shirts, baseball caps, beanies, hoodies, drawstring bags, and tote bags on which groups can print their own logos and messages.

    To get the word out we worked with Jazz Productions, a Nepali group of young men committed to telling stories through visual media, to make a video. A group of trekking friends volunteered as the lovely models in our video.

    We love offering this new ethical option for custom print gear.  With an easy-to-use design tool on our website, products kept in stock in the USA for quick fulfillment and with low minimum quantities, we are excited to meet the need in the custom printing market for an ethical option. Purnaa’s Custom Print Gear is both socially responsible in paying fair wages to the workers who make the products and environmentally responsible, sourcing fabrics that are made from sustainable fabrics.

    All of the fabrics are made from certified organic materials and woven or knit in GOTS certified Fair Trade factories. They are then dyed using low-impact AZO-free dyes. We believe it is important to work to minimize our impact on the world and do our best to make sure we take care of the environment.

    Along with helping the environment, every product purchased helps to empower those who have been marginalized by society. At Purnaa, we focus on hiring people who come from marginalized backgrounds and giving them chances for fresh starts and fulfilled lives. We want to see their lives change for the better and Custom Print Gear creates work for them. The more orders we receive, the more people we can hire. We believe that dignified jobs have the power to transform people’s lives.

    We are excited for our new line of products and what they mean for the environment and for the Nepali people being offered opportunities for fresh starts and fulfilled lives. We are very happy with the way the video turned out and are thankful to our models and to Jazz Productions for all of their hard work. We are excited to see how this video helps our promotion of Custom Print Gear products. If you would like to order any of these products please visit https://purnaa.store and get in touch with us.

     

    Purnaa Store
  • Dec292017
    New Purnaa Team

    27 New People Hired!

    We are excited to announce that we have added a new department at Purnaa!  27 new people were hired! Instead of sewing, this team is hand-tying fishing lures. The new team includes 1 assistant project manager, 4 quality control members, 4 packing team members, and 18 fly-fishing tiers. This is the largest intake of employees we have ever hired at one time and it was very exciting for everyone.

    Choosing who to hire from the many, many applicants is always challenging.  As a social enterprise we are committed to empowering those from marginalized and exploited backgrounds into fresh starts through dignified employment.  But, we can’t hire people based only on their need.  New hires must also demonstrate an ability to learn the work.  And so, we conducted a full week of interviews and skills assessment to determine those that would be the best fit for the job and for our social mission. Everyone received an individual interview and two days of skills training to see how quickly they learned the skills and if they would enjoy this type of work.  Today, we are confident in the people we hired becoming some of the best fishing lure manufacturers in the world!  They are already off to a great start.

    With many new employees coming from backgrounds where basic education was denied, or where they experienced extreme abuse or trauma, we strongly prioritize equipping them with knowledge that will help them to “catch up” in life. So we implement life-skills training half the day and job-skills training half the day for the first two months of their new job.  The life-skills training covers topics like: financial planning, basic math and literacy skills, nutrition, parenting, individual mental health counseling, physical health, and group times to identify and recognize self-worth. During the training, the values of Purnaa and why they are so important to the business are also taught. In January, the team will move to full days of manufacturing.

    Purnaa had the goal of creating 8-12 new jobs within this year and this new department has helped us to far exceed that goal. This has been a wonderful opportunity to make a new product and create so many more opportunities for fresh starts and fulfilled lives.

    Purnaa Store
  • Dec172017
    Ethical Garment Production

    What is the True Cost of a T-Shirt?

    What Is the True Cost of a T-Shirt?

    Have you ever thought about how much your t-shirt really costs to make? Or wondered why the retail price is so much higher than the manufacturing cost?  What are you actually paying for? We explain what the true cost of a t-shirt really is.

    I teamed up with Purnaa’s production manager, Richard, to compare the cost breakdowns between a $20 T-Shirt produced at an average Bangladeshi factory vs. one manufactured at Purnaa.

    Bangladesh’s Garment Industry

    Bangladesh has one of the lowest minimum wages in the world, which is why it is one of the most popular countries to manufacturer garments in. More than 3.5 million people work in Bangladesh’s garment industry, which now accounts for about 80% of the country’s foreign trade. The workers, about 85% women, are often subjected to long work hours, forced or unpaid overtime, harassment, and unsafe working conditions, all to be able to produce the lowest price products for Western consumption. Wages are determined by businesses, unlike the cost of materials or shipping.  So when costs need to be cut, it is usually the worker’s salary that takes the first hit. We chose to compare Bangladesh with Purnaa as this is where a huge amount of the world’s cheap clothing originates. 

    Purnaa’s Commitment To Transparency

    Because Purnaa is committed to transparency, customers can find a complete cost breakdown for each product on the Custom Print Gear website. Purnaa customers can know what they’re paying for and wear Purnaa products with confidence knowing that they are purchasing from an ethical and sustainably-focused company who manufactures the right way.

    As you can see in the graph below, Purnaa’s administrative overheads, shipping, and import taxes are significantly higher. This is primarily because Purnaa is in Nepal, a landlocked country with stringent rules and regulations on exporting products. Overheads are higher because of our commitment to fair living wages.  

     

    T-Shirt Graph

     

    Mark-up

    In both cases most of the t-shirt’s cost is allocated to brand markup, but in the Bangladeshi t-shirt’s case, a large percentage is also given to wholesale markup. The total cost of manufacturing the t-shirt is actually only $2.10 compared with $7.81 at Purnaa. A standard t-shirt’s retail price may be up to ten times higher than the wholesale price if it was sourced from a factory that exploits both it’s workers and the environment to make the cheapest possible products. When you buy directly from Purnaa there are no retailing markups, just a modest profit margin which we add to each shirt.

    Materials

    You can see that Purnaa’s material costs are more than double than in Bangladesh. Nepal has a small textile industry, which means many fabrics are unavailable here, especially in large quantities. We import almost all Custom Print Gear fabric from India. Our organic cotton comes from a GOTS, Fairtrade, and Fair Trade USA certified supplier. To import fabric from India, even in large quantities, is very expensive.

    The dye that is used to dye the t-shirts are GOTS certified and low impact. They use less water, less heat and produce less waste runoff than regular chemical dyeing processes. These fiber-reactive dyes contain no heavy metals or other known toxic substances, and meet all European Union criteria for eco-friendly pigments.

    Wages and Benefits

    Appallingly, a Bangladeshi worker can make as little as $0.05 per t-shirt, compared with $1.68 at Purnaa.  However, this is only an average as we don’t actually pay a piece rate, all of our employees earn a salary. At Purnaa the lowest wage is $125 a month and the average among sewers is $141. The Nepali minimum wage is $92. You can find more information about staff salaries in our post A Living Wage in Nepal

    In September, Purnaa introduced a new bonus system to incentivize staff. Each team has a daily production target depending on the product they are sewing. For every hour ahead of schedule a team becomes, Purnaa pays them 1.2 times their hourly rate for the time saved. The average bonus a sewer can expect to earn per month is $42.50, the highest bonus currently received by a team was $147.50 per person in a month, over double the median wage. Since we have introduced this new system Purnaa has increased production by 35%.

    As well as a basic salary and production bonus’, Purnaa is pleased to be able to provide the following benefits:

    • Pension
    • Dashian Bonus – Dashian is an annual festival in Nepal, all employees receive a month’s bonus for this holiday.
    • Medical Allowance – Employees receive a $100 medical allowance per year and $50 per child or children that they have guardianship over
    • Lunch/Tea – Purnaa provides lunch, 2 tea breaks, and a snack everyday.
    • Housing Provision – The Nepali government states that a housing provision of 5% of net profit shall be divided among employees and given per month.
    • Yearly bonus – 10% of Purnaa’s annual net profit is shared amongst employees.

    Purnaa aims to be as transparent as possible in everything that we do. Our new range of Custom Print Gear includes certified organic cotton tees that are customizable for your needs including brand giveaways, events, conferences and uniforms. If you have upcoming merchandise needs, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you: customprintgear@purnaa.com

    Purnaa Store
  • Nov182017
    Ethical Garment Manufacturing

    How To Find An Ethical Garment Manufacturer

    We receive lots of inquiries from brands who want to create a positive social impact but have no idea where to start looking for an ethical garment manufacturer. The guide below will help your search!

     

    First things first…

    Be sure of what you are looking for. You will need to make sure your requirements for manufacturing match with a suppliers capabilities. What quantity, fabric/materials, price, certifications are you looking for? What services will you require; designing, pattern making, sourcing, etc.? These are all things you will need to think about when choosing an ethical garment manufacturer.

    Where do I start?

     

    • The Ethical Fashion Forum

    The Ethical Fashion Forum is an amazing resource. Their SOURCE database lists ethical manufacturers all over the world and is a great place to start:

    http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/source-directory/directory/4

    • Certification Databases

    If you’re dedicated to finding a manufacturer that is certified with a specific organization, you can look at their websites or contact them directly for lists of their members. WFTO is a great example, you can search through their membership database (and find us!)

    http://wfto.com/search-our-membership-database

    http://www.fairtradefederation.org/find-a-wholesaler-supplier/

    • Agents

    There are third party companies who can help match you with the type of supplier you are looking for. More and more of these companies are popping up to help you find your perfect manufacturer.

    http://www.supplycompass.com/

    • Tradeshows and conferences

    These places are a perfect networking opportunity to get to know people with indepth knowledge of the industry. All under one roof!

     

    Ethical Garment Factory

     

    When deciding on an ethical garment manufacturer think about…

    • The country you want to manufacturer in.

    Be aware of the political and social environment of the country. One of the key reasons you may want to go into production with a company is because they’re in a developing country, but it is worth noting that this can impact your project further down the line. Understanding the processes of the country and realizing that there could be situations outside of your manufacturer’s control is very important. This will help to ease possible tensions that could arise in the future and to keep a peaceful working relationship.

    • The product you want to create.

    Manufacturers have different strengths and levels of expertise, ask if the factory has experience making your type of product and whether they can show you examples.

    • The fabric and materials that you want to use.

    There may be a country that is known for a specific type of material or craftsmanship. For example, Dhaka fabric is traditional to Nepal and widely used by our customers as it supports the local industry. It also reduces the carbon footprint of your product by using fabric that is available locally.

     

    * Remember, levels of English will vary. Communication is very important. Always remember to be respectful and patient. Developing a relationship built on trust and respect will mean both parties reap the best possible rewards.

    Ethical Manufacturer Factory Floor

    How do I find out if they’re really ethical?

     

    • Ask a lot of questions!

    Transparent or ethical companies normally encourage questions and will be happy to answer any that you may have. If they’re marketing themselves as an ethical garment manufacturer then they should be especially glad to answer any queries. Try to think of all of your questions in advance to save time for you and the company.

    Questions you may want to ask…

    • What do you do to protect the rights of your employees?
    • Are they paid a living wage?
    • What safety regulations do you have?
    • Is everything made in house?
    • Where do you source your fabrics from?
    • What kind of relationship do you have with your suppliers?

    Factories may outsource some of their work, for example screen printing or embroidery. Workers that are not employed directly by the factory aren’t protected by the same rights as those that are, even if they’re working with a certified factory. If you know you will need these kinds of services then ask in advance who will be providing them.

    • Ask if you can visit the factory.

    It’s always a great idea to visit the factory that you will work with. Understandably this is not always possible, but simply asking the question can give you an idea of how transparent the company is.

    • Ask to see their code of conduct.

    Factories must be compliant with local laws and should have guidelines in place.  You can also ask if they have previously been audited. If they haven’t, it doesn’t mean they’re not ethical, but it’s good to know.

    • Ask if they are certified.

    Ask if the factory has any certifications and whether the fabrics that they use are also certified. There are many different certifications in the industry, they vary from environmental, to health and safety, to working conditions. They also differ from country and continent. You don’t need to know them all inside and out, but doing some basic research is beneficial.

     

    Celebrating Fair Trade Certification

     

    And finally, be prepared for the cost of ethical manufacturing.

     

    Ethical production is usually a little bit more expensive. Paying a living wage, providing benefits to employees, and fostering a healthy and happy work environment costs more. It doesn’t cost the earth, but it does mean paying a fair price for your product. Unfortunately, due to the insatiable appetite for fast fashion, many consumers believe it’s reasonable to pay $5 for a t-shirt when in reality this is not sustainable. Someone, somewhere is paying the price for cheap clothing.

    Paying extra per piece may impact your profit, but refusing to pay a fair price means that many factories decide to cut corners. Those corners can be a lack of basic health and safety equipment, low pay, and forced overtime. It’s important for brands and consumers to understand the necessity of ethical manufacturing, so that they can do their part in demanding the industry wide changes that are needed today.

    If you’d like to go into production with a Fair Trade, ethical garment manufacturer then please get in touch with us!

    Purnaa Store
  • Aug052017

    7 Alternative Sustainable Fabrics

    The damages inflicted by the garment industry, both environmentally and socially, cannot be ignored. At Purnaa, we are committed to working on our long-term sustainability strategies to ensure we do not use materials harmful to people or the environment. Here are seven different types of sustainable fabric that you may not have been aware of before.

     

     

    1. Bamboo

    Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, it requires less than 1/3 the amount of water to grow than is necessary for cotton with one acre of bamboo yielding 10 times more than an acre of cotton. Bamboo fabric is said to have many positive attributes, which make it a popular alternative to cotton; among them antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties.

     

    2. Organic Cotton

     Conventional cotton uses around 16% of the world’s insecticides; it takes around 20,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of cotton making it incredibly harmful to the environment and puts pressure on the earth’s natural resources. Organic cotton on the other hand is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment; it is grown without the use of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. This means that it is safer for farmers, their families and communities as they are not exposed to harmful substances. Organic cotton is 80% rain fed; it conserves and uses water more efficiently than traditional methods.

     

    3. Chrome-Free Vegetable-Tanned Leather

    The chromium salt tanning system is the most popular way to tan leather, around 90% of the world’s leather is tanned using this process, yet this traditional method is very harmful to the environment. This type of tanning produces chromium waste, which if not treated properly, can end up polluting water sources for communities in developing countries. Added to this, chrome tanned leather is not biodegradable. Vegetable tanning is the traditional way of tanning leather, it is more time and labor intensive than chromium tanning and therefore is more expensive. Being an entirely organic material, vegetable-tanned leather will change over time, it will grow softer and darker and will eventually be bio-degradable.

     

    4. Hemp

    Hemp fiber is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant species; it makes an incredibly durable and versatile fabric that can be used in all kinds of products. It uses around half the water needed to produce conventional cotton and yields twice as much fiber per acre as cotton. Similar to bamboo, hemp doesn’t require pesticides or chemicals to grow. Hemp fabric actually softens over time and is stronger than cotton. Un-dyed it can have a natural and earthy texture; alternatively it can be blended and dyed for a smoother finish.

     

    5. Pineapple

    Pineapple fiber, also called Piña, is a strong cobweb-like fiber taken from the leaves of the pineapple plant that can be used as an alternative to leather. It is usually white or cream in color. The fiber is stripped from the leaves, sun-bleached, hand knotted and spun. The recovery of this fiber is very minimal so it can take several months to gather enough to produce just a few pounds of Piña.

     

     

    6. Milk

    To create milk fabric, liquid milk is dried and the proteins are extracted. The proteins are then dissolved into a chemical solution and put into a machine that spins the fibers together. After this the fibers can be spun into yarn or woven into fabric. Milk fabric has many benefits including, it holds dye well, is breathable and captures moisture to make skin smooth after wearing it.

     

     

    7. Banana

    Banana trees have been used for making fabric for many years. Banana fabric, or jusi, is made from the stem that is left in the garden after a banana harvest. The tree stalks and leaves are processed into a pliable fiber. Different layers of the stem create different fibers. The outer layers are mainly used for items such as tablecloths, whereas the inner layers create fine, silky fabric. Banana fabric is made in only a few places in Southeast Asia.

    Purnaa Store
  • Jun032017

    Expert Help in On-Going Skills Development

    Suzanne Allibone has been back at Purnaa for the past few weeks providing training for some of our staff members. She has over 20 years of experience in garment manufacturing and has worked in Australia and many parts of Asia. This is her third time at Purnaa, and we are delighted to have her working with us again.

     

    She has focused her training with our sampling and cutting teams, teaching new techniques and helping to improve their skills.

     

    With the cutting team, she focused on increasing our cutting accuracy through improved marker usage. Markers are large sheets of paper that efficiently layout all the pattern pieces to be cut. We trace the patterns onto the paper, then layer the fabric to be cut, and then place the paper on top of it. We stabilize the paper using weights and then cut the fabric using a rotary blade or vertical knife cutting machine. “The paper is stable, it doesn’t move, so everything you trace out is incredibly accurate,” Suzanne stated as she showed the team how to refer back to the marker for checking cut pieces for accuracy.

    Suzanne has also been working with our sampling team. She reviewed the processes of testing a new pattern by sewing a first test sample, designing to certain sewing techniques that will make later production easier, and creating tricky sleeve patterns.

     

    Suzanne said, “I’ve been very impressed with the sampling and cutting teams. The girls are great. They can’t get enough…there is a lot of information I can input, but the challenge is not to overwhelm them and not to feel the need to tell them everything. So it’s more like a coaching. What I’ve been doing more is coaching and mentoring, which is what I really love.”

     

    At Purnaa, one of our core values is excellence. We believe in always striving for excellence in what we do, and one way to do that is to provide on-going training for our staff members. Suzanne has been very helpful to our team and we were thankful to have her back with us.

    Purnaa Store
  • Apr282017

    5 Ways to Become a Fashion Revolutionary

    “Fashion revolution is a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. The goal is to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, so that what the world wears has been made in a safe, clean and fair way.” http://fashionrevolution.org/

     

    Fashion revolution started after the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013, killing over 1,100 people. The need was realized for more transparency in supply chains and for consumers to be aware of how their clothes are actually being made and the possible negative parts of the supply chain, such as exploitation of the workers and pollution of the environment. If there is transparency, consumers can identify whether or not people are being exploited in the supply chain or the environment is being harmed. Fashion revolution aims to restructure the fashion industry to value people and the environment while still creating profit for businesses.

    At Purnaa, we stand behind the vision of Fashion Revolution. We are now World Fair Trade guaranteed, meaning that our manufacturing process is done in an ethical way. We strive for transparency; anyone can come take a tour of our facilities, and we are open about who made your clothes, featuring our workers on our website through pictures and interviews.

     

    You can also be a part of the Fashion Revolution. Here are a few easy steps to take to become more involved.

     

    1. Get informed

    Research the fashion industry. Research your favorite brands. Find out what is really going on in the manufacturing process. The first step in bringing about change is getting informed. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few ideas.

    http://fashionrevolution.org/

    – The book, “Slow Fashion” by Saffia Minney, http://www.peopletree.co.uk/features/slow-fashion-book

    – The Garment Workers Diaries, http://fashionrevolution.org/garment-worker-diaries/

     

    2. Ask your favorite brands

    Find out how transparent your favorite brand is with their supply change. Ask them the question, who made my clothes? The week of April 24th-30th is Fashion Revolution week. Take a picture showing the tag of your clothes and post it on social media with the hashtag, #whomademyclothes? Then tag your favorite brand or email them with the question.

     

    3. Host a screening of “The True Cost”

    The True Cost is a documentary showing what really happens in the fashion industry. It shows the harmful things that are happening in the manufacturing process, while also showing companies that are trying to do things differently. Watch the movie yourself and host a screening to show others what is happening in the garment industry. To find out more information go to, http://truecostmovie.com/

     

    4. Change shopping habits

    The fashion industry will change if consumers change their shopping habits and only buy from manufacturers who are creating their garments in an ethical way. Once you are informed, use that information to only shop from brands that you know are treating their supply chain and the environment ethically.

     

    5. Shop second hand

    Buying from ethical manufacturers is not always the cheapest option. Another way to help protect the environment is to buy clothes second hand. A big part of the way the fashion industry hurts the environment is by all the clothes that are thrown away. Shopping second hand will eliminate some of this waste. There are second hand stores in almost every town and you can find good quality items there.

    Raising awareness is a huge step in bringing about change in the fashion industry. If people know what is going on, then they will be able to find ways to help prevent the negative side affects from happening. At Purnaa we are transparent. You know how we are treating the environment and you know who made your clothes, you can even stop by and meet them personally!

     

    Purnaa Store
  • Apr192017

    7 Ways To Save Money During The Production Process

    We know that although most brands and designers are excited to work with an ethical garment manufacturer, their budget is just as price sensitive as any other brand. To help our customers and others in the industry save money, Purnaa’s production manager, Richard Faber, has written 7 top tips for saving money when you go into production with an ethical garment manufacturer.

     

    1. Plan Ahead

    If you have long lead times and have planned your production far in advance, we will be able to order your fabric to be delivered by road. Although air freight only takes a few days to reach its destination, it adds considerable expense to overall costs. Goods delivered by road save on average, 50% of transport costs. For large orders this can save thousands of dollars, not to mention it is far better for the environment as it results in fewer carbon emissions.

     

    2. Increase your quantity per style

    It takes a lot of organizing and time to setup and train staff to make your new product. Ordering a larger quantity splits the setup cost. With every piece sewn, the sewers become a little faster at making it. So the more pieces of your product we make, the better the per piece production cost. Also, most fabric suppliers have high minimum order quantities and ordering small amount of fabric is more expensive.  So increasing your order will decrease the cost of your fabric per piece. Delivery charges are also cheaper per kg at larger quantities.

     

    3. Source the right fabric
    Typically, fabric costs are at least 50% of the price of a garment. Research the materials you would like to use and be aware that prices differ greatly depending on fiber content, quality and GSM (the weight of the fabric). If you can source your own fabric you will save part of the sourcing fee that we charge to find new materials.

    You can also optimize your designs to maximize material usage during the cutting process of production. Designs should produce as little fabric waste as possible and the width of the fabric plays an important role in determining the amount of waste you will create.

     

    4. Simplify your design

    Make construction easy by limiting the number of materials that go into your item. It helps to buy a product that closely resembles what you are trying to create so that you can study all of the different components. Consider the complexity and number of fabrics/trims used. Are they all necessary or functional? To keep costs down, be sure to construct features that don’t rely on difficult sewing techniques.

     

    5. Reduce the number of colors and/or sizes

    Reducing the variety or colors and sizes that you order means that the process of cutting the fabric is faster and sourcing is easier. Plus, there are fewer thread changes.  This will make your order easier to source, track/pack and production will be quicker, saving you more money!

     

    6. Place a long-term, repeat contract rather than a one-time order

    Sewers have learned your design and we know how to source all of the materials, so repeating an order is much easier than starting a new one. If you believe your product will be successful, ordering larger quantities in advance will save you both time and money, increasing your speed to market and responsiveness to demand. Our production calendar is very busy, so if you would like to top up your order, it could take a few months before we have time to make more of your products.

     

    7. Understand QC Tolerances

    Every process has variation and room for error. We end of line check 100% of our products, which means all the pieces you receive have passed our strict quality control. The more tolerance you allow, it becomes faster to make your item and also for the QC department to check it.  The savings are passed on to you!

     

    Want more information on ethical fashion and manufacturing?

    https://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/the-issues/ethical-fashion

    http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5147-how-to-start-clothing-line.html

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/270271

    https://textclothsustain.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40689-016-0024-3

    http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/The-Fellowship-500/suppliers-and-fabrics

    http://ethicalfashioninitiative.org/ethical-manufacturing/

     

    Purnaa Store
  • Apr082017

    Holistic Training at Purnaa

    “Purnaa” is a Nepali word that means whole, complete, and fulfilled. And so at Purnaa, our mission is to provide more than just a job but also opportunities for staff to become whole and live fulfilled lives. Poverty and injustice are not just economic issues. They are results of broken relationships, unjust social systems, lack of education and opportunity etc. Often these factors contribute to people developing marred identities which can hinder them from rising out of the cycles of injustice and poverty. This is why at Purnaa we offer holistic training for our employees.

     

    While working at Purnaa, employees receive more than just job skills; they are also equipped with training and experiences that help them grow and develop as a person. Currently in our holistic training program we focus on 4 areas:

     

    1. Life Skills

    2. Company Values

    3. Leadership

    4. Group Work

     

    Life Skills

    When a new employee joins us at Purnaa, during the on-boarding process, we spend time training on basic life skills such as literacy, numeracy, health, budgeting and safety. In addition to this, our HR staff has been certified as facilitators of a parenting class by the International Child Development Program (ICDP). More than 50% of our employees have now become certified caregivers as a part of this training.

     

    Company Values

    Purnaa has 5 company values; love, excellence, integrity, justice, and beauty. We have bi-weekly trainings with all employees to discuss each of our values. We focus on what each value means and how we can all live them out at work and in our lives. These times vary from talking about love languages to going out and picking up trash around our neighborhood. We intentionally focus on how to make values based decisions and to act according to these principals.

     

    Leadership

    Once a month Purnaa managers and sewing team leaders gather at lunch time for a “Leadership Lunch”. This time is spent discussing what it looks like to be a good leader. Recently we went through the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. We also cover topics such as servant leadership, trust, and conflict resolution.

     

    Group Work

    At Purnaa our staff work in teams. Once a month each team has what we call “team time” together. This time focuses on team building as well as group work activities that are meant to help the individual grow as a person. The activities focus on 5 main areas; communication, dealing with emotions, problem solving, relationships, and self-awareness.

     

    This holistic training program is a part of our effort to empower employees to become whole and complete, free from the enslaving cycle of poverty that surrounds so many of them. We want Purnaa to be more than just a job, we want it to be a community that promotes growth and well-being for the whole

    person.  It should be a place where employees are equipped to live fulfilled lives.

     

    This blog is the start to a series where we share more about our holistic training program. Check back for further updates on the training offered at Purnaa.

    Purnaa Store
  • Mar222017

    Purnaa Is Now Guaranteed Fair Trade! But what does this actually mean?

    We are delighted to announce that, as of this week, Purnaa is officially a Fair Trade company, guaranteed by the World Fair Trade Organization! We had a party at the office today to celebrate!!

    But what does this guarantee actually mean and does it in any way help you, our customers and clients? We hope this article will answer your questions.

     

    What is WFTO?

    The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is a global network of fair traders – producers, marketers, exporters, importers, wholesalers and retailers – that demonstrate 100% commitment to Fair Trade and apply the 10 Principles of Fair Trade to their supply chains. The WFTO guarantee is recognized globally. Members believe that trade should work for people and the environment, and not at their expense.

     

    What are ‘The 10 principles of Fair Trade’?

    The 10 Principles of Fair Trade are the fundamental philosophies established by WFTO members to guide their practices in fighting against trade injustices and discrimination.  Every member commits to operate according to these.

    They are:

    How did Purnaa become WFTO guaranteed?

    We went through a rigorous auditing process, which included over 100 hours of research and preparation. Since our founding in 2013, we have been committed to developing a company with procedures, guidelines and a workplace environment that ensures ethical production.  After operating for several years, we could begin the application to become a WFTO member.  We wrote extensively to document all we do to be socially and environmentally responsible.  Then we were audited by a third-party in late 2016 to ensure that Purnaa, through fair employment, is working to eradicate poverty and inequality.

     

    The WFTO symbol

    The WFTO symbol displayed by members’ websites and on products they make, informs consumers that the goods were made in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. Consumers are increasingly concerned about ethical issues and the welfare of workers throughout the supply chain. The WFTO symbol conveys the dedication of a manufacturer or brand to Fair Trade principles throughout production and increases consumer confidence that products were made in a responsible way.

     

    What does the WFTO guarantee mean for those who purchase Purnaa Products?

    Those of you who are purchasing Purnaa’s products, can buy with an ease of conscience, knowing that your purchase is guaranteed to be ethically made. You are now a part of improving the global trade and making it FAIR for ALL people and communities involved.

     

    What does WFTO’s guarantee mean for designers/brands who produce at Purnaa?

    If you are a production client at Purnaa, you may also be able to put a WFTO label on your goods!  Here’s what you should know:

    – “The WFTO Product Label is more than just a Fair Trade symbol. It signifies not only that the practices across the supply chain are checked against the WFTO Fair Trade Standard, but it also represents support to the battle against poverty and inequality. Products carrying the WFTO Label are made and traded by Guaranteed Fair Trade Organizations dedicated to the sustainable Fair Trade economy. Every purchase of products with the WFTO Label supports small producers and their communities.”-WFTO

    – We can help you set up a WFTO labeling contract. WFTO-Asia will charge an annual licensing fee per purchase order, based on the purchase order value (1% or 100 euros minimum).

    – You should not use the WFTO symbol on your website.  But in your online product descriptions you may reference Purnaa and our WFTO membership.

     

    What does WFTO membership mean for Purnaa?

    Purnaa is now able to market as Fair Trade. We hope that this will attract new customers and production clients who want to support small producers and who share our passion for increased equality and justice in the world.  We are now included in the WFTO database so it is easy for companies all over the world to search for a Fair Trade guaranteed garment manufacturer and find Purnaa!

     

    What does our WFTO guarantee mean for the future?

    Purnaa has made a commitment to continuous improvement.  Receiving the WFTO membership is only the beginning.  We will conduct self-assessments and review improvement plans every 2 years and have an action plan for the next 12 months. Some of our improvement areas include; staff training focused on the importance of WFTO and sustainable practices, introducing more locally-made materials and designs based on local culture and tradition, and conducting on-going risk assessments of our supply chain.

     

    To learn more about Fair Trade please visit:

    http://wfto.com/

    http://wfto-asia.com/

    http://www.triplepundit.com/special/future-of-fair-trade/change-world-wardrobe-5-things-may-know-fair-trade-apparel/

    https://www.bustle.com/articles/85937-what-makes-clothing-fair-trade-certified-so-you-can-feel-confident-youre-shopping-completely-ethically

    https://www.bustle.com/articles/79529-ethical-vs-fair-trade-fashion-because-the-difference-definitely-matters

    https://shophelpsy.com/pages/what-is-ethical-fashion

     

    Purnaa Store
  • Mar022017

    Purnaa Featured on Ethical Fashion Forum Sustainable Sourcing Series

    Purnaa was featured in Ethical Fashion Forum’s most recent Sustainable Sourcing Series. We love working with our team and are honored to be recognized as a “supplier changing lives.” Check out a snippet above or download the full article here.

    Purnaa Store
  • Nov292016

    Why Trauma Counseling?

    What is psychological trauma? The word ‘trauma’ means a wound. Therefore, psychological trauma is a wound to the ‘psyche’ or mind. Psychological trauma often occurs in situations of abuse and also neglect. There are 2 types of trauma:

    1. Trauma caused by bad things that happen – abuse, war, rape etc.

    2. Trauma caused by neglect – an absence of basic necessities in life.

     

    When people come from marginalized and exploited backgrounds they often experience some form of both kinds of trauma. Living with psychological trauma is extremely difficult. It lowers a person’s capacity to function each day. Not only is it emotionally painful and damages a person’s identity but it also hinders the ability to focus, be productive, and learn new things quickly. How is psychological trauma healed? Well, just like physical trauma it can heal naturally over time. But for many it can take a lifetime.

     

    Counseling, mental health interventions and a loving community can

    greatly speed up someone’s healing. There is a specific therapy model called Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) which is seen as an effective model to help people recover from trauma.

     

    The TF-CBT model has 8 components that correspond with the acronym PRACTICE:

    1. Psychoeducation – explaining trauma and the symptoms.

    2. Relaxation – Teaching relaxation techniques

    3. Affective Expression – Helping deal with negative emotions and memories

    4. Cognitive Coping – Connecting thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to trauma

    5. Trauma Narrative – Assistance in creating a verbal, written, or artistic expression of the trauma

    6. In vivo Exposure – Troubleshooting reminders of the trauma.

    7. Conjoint sessions – Session with a loved one who they can share their narrative with.

    8. Enhancing Safety & Development – Enhancing personal safety by providing training and social

    skills.

     

    In Nepal, mental health receives little attention. There is a stigma at all levels of society, from the government to the general public. The government spends less than 1% of its healthcare budget on mental health.1  A study has shown that the pervasiveness of mental health issues to be as high as 37.5% in rural communities.2

     

    At Purnaa, we recognize the need for some employees, especially those who come from abusive, traumatized or exploitative backgrounds, to have access to mental health services as well as other services that go beyond those traditionally provided by an employer.

    This extra assistance is made possible through private donations given to Purnaa’s Empowerment Fund. Would you consider partnering with us to equip employees with the health needed for fresh starts and fulfilled lives?  Read more here about the services the Empowerment Fund finances and how you can join us in making a difference!

    ____________________________________________________________
    1 Regmi, S., Pokharei, A., Ojha, S., Pradhan, S. and Chapagain, G. “Nepal mental health country profile.” International Review of Psychiatry,2004. 16 (1- 2): 142-149.
    2 Khattri, J.B., Poudel, B.M., Thapa, P., Godar, S.T., Tirkey, S., Ramesh, K. and Chakrabortty, P.K. (. An Epidemiological Study of Psychiatric Cases in a Rural Community of Nepal. Nepal Journal of Medical Science,2013; 2(1): 52-56.
    Purnaa Store
  • Oct292016

    Sourcing Materials

    At Purnaa, we source both locally and internationally to ensure we deliver the best and most cost effective material inputs for our customers’ designs. Today, we take a quick peek into this challenging but rewarding work.  (Meet the Sourcing Team: Bikash, Nikesh, and Hannah)

     

    Being based in Nepal, we get to navigate around the country’s many obstacles and overcome them in uniquely creative ways. Fortunately, we have a dedicated and competent team.

     

    Purnaa Sourcing Manager, Nikesh, spends his days zipping around Kathmandu on his motorbike to locate and purchase the many different fabrics and components needed for production. Business is very relational in Nepal. Transactions are not made in haste and partnerships are formed over time and frequent cups of chia (local tea). Nikesh is very much the face of Purnaa, visiting local suppliers, markets and weavers on a daily basis, haggling for the best prices, and searching for the best quality materials.

     

    Using local market suppliers supports the local economy. We especially love when we get to use the beautiful, traditional, hand-woven  Nepali fabric,  ‘dhaka’. However, many of the materials we need are imported to the local markets from India and China and stock is not well-maintained locally. This can make it difficult to find large quantities, especially if a lot of time has passed between a customer’s sampling and production stages.

    We are delighted to have Sustainability Fellow, Hannah Badminton of Wales, heading up our international side of sourcing. She frequently communicates with mills and suppliers in China and India as Nepal cannot manufacture many of the materials that we require. International sourcing requires a lot of fabric knowledge and endless emails, through which we try to ensure that the suppliers we use have the correct certifications and adhere to their local labour laws.

     

    With dedicated research and perseverance, Hannah has helped to find innovative material alternatives to offer our customers.  There are new options constantly evolving in the global market.  Some of the ones we have found interesting and inspiring recently include:

    – pineapple leather

    – bamboo silk

    – water-free dyeing processes

    – soya bean and banana fabric as cotton alternatives

    – chromium-free tanned leather

     

    Purnaa’s long term goals include improving our use of sustainable materials and we will continue to offer unique and innovative options to our clients for their production needs.

     

    Our shipping manager, Bikash, oversees all of the imports and exports at Purnaa.  The paperwork required in Nepal can be quadruple the amount needed in the US for simple banking and shipping processes. We are lucky to have a dedicated member of staff who coordinates effectively to ensure shipments are on time!

     

    Our wonderful customers are equally dedicated to ethical fashion and are open to suggestions, making it possible for us to experiment with new and exciting materials.

    Purnaa Store
  • Oct152016

    A Living Wage in Nepal

    Purnaa conducts an annual survey (download here) with each of our Nepali team members to measure how well we are accomplishing our social objective of creating good jobs that empower marginalized people to transformed lives. We publish this social impact report because of our commitment to transparency. The survey gauges quality of life in the above five areas.

     

    Today we want to share our calculations for ‘A Living Wage in Nepal’ based off of our findings in the 2015 Social Impact Report. When we established Purnaa, despite many, many hours of digging online, meeting with government officials and INGO workers who work in economic development, we could not find any reports on what Nepal’s living wage (not to be confused with the minimum wage*) ought to be.  After running a company for 3 years that employs many who have little-to-no formal education and who begin as the lowest earners, we wanted to share what we are learning from their responses to our survey questions.

     

    *The new minimum wage in Nepal is 9700NPR/mo. The World Fair Trade Organization defines “living wage” as 110% the minimum wage. 110% of 9700NPR/mo is 10,670NPR/mo. All Purnaa employee wages are higher than this.

     

    Employee Demographics

    Purnaa employed 35 Nepalis at the time of the survey:

    A Living Wage

    During their interview, each employee recorded an estimate of their monthly expenditures. Their responses allowed us to calculate a baseline living wage for our employees. We base our salaries on the approximate living wage for a single parent with children, though some of our employees have spouses who contribute income to their families. The wages indicated in the survey results include medical reimbursement and children’s school scholarships. They do not include the 15% profit-sharing bonus our employees receive annually.

    * Expenses are in Nepali Rupees/month.
    ** See http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/05/economist-explains-24 and
    http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Nepal for more on what a living wage looks like.

     

    Although last year we believed we were providing a living wage to even the lowest earners at Purnaa, we saw that our employees continued to have difficulty providing for their basic needs, especially those who joined our team with pre-existing debt.  

    We recognize the need for some team members to grow in budgeting and responsible financial management. To assist in this area we continue to run trainings during work hours on how to develop these skills.

     

    We have also chosen to respond with an increase of our wages and benefits. We raised our salaries by an average of 11% this fiscal year. We have increased our health care reimbursements to provide more for the dependents of employees.  And we have raised the amount we offer towards school scholarships for the dependents of our team members. Purnaa works hard to offer wages that promote holistic, lasting well-being.

     

    We continue to research to ensure we are paying living wages.  Recently, the President of WFTO Asia told us that a study funded by the World Bank (to be published) found that the living wage in Nepal for a family of 4 should be 24,000NPR.  He also said the Nepal government’s official number is 31,000NPR for a family of 4. If that’s true, our 15,000 for a family of 2 is a little low. We are considering adding 500 rps more for each child.

     

    In an effort to continue the needed dialogue around this issue, we share our findings publicly to serve as a data point.

    Purnaa Store
  • Sep092016

    How It’s Made

    This is Purnaa’s Saru Messenger Bag. The Saru features eco-friendly genuine leather, water resistant canvas, hand woven Nepali ‘dhaka’ fabric, and the silhouette of Mt. Everest. You can contact us at info@purnaa.com to purchase it at wholesale rates.

     

    We thought we’d give you a “behind the scenes” look at the making of this product.

     

    Step 1: Design

    This is where it starts. We create a vision for the upcoming line and experiment with different fabric and construction options.

    Step 2: Sourcing

    Once we are happy with the design, we order all the materials and bring them to Purnaa. We try to source as much locally as we can, and for the materials we cannot find locally we import from India or China. For this bag, the water resistant canvas comes from a local supplier that sells to the Nepali Army for tents, and the leather comes from an eco-supplier in India. The zippers come from YKK India, and the hand woven Nepali Dakha was sourced from a women’s group.

     

    Step 3: Layering

    After all the supplies are gathered, we layer the canvas material on our cutting tables and then mark out each piece of the bag using our design patterns. We have to make sure we get the right number of each piece and also maximize the use of the fabric.

     

    Step 4: Cutting

    We cut out all of the pieces, making sure they are labeled correctly. We have to cut carefully; if we make a mistake cutting one piece, it affects all of the layers!

    Step 5: Screen Printing

    We then have the screen print of the silhouette of Mt. Everest done on the front of the bag.

    Step 6: Sewing!

    The sewing operations are divided into equal steps and each step is sewn by one of our talented employees. This bag had 18 different sewing operations from start to finish. Below Laxmi is sewing on the leather on the bottom back piece of the bag.

    Step 7: Quality Check

    After all of the sewing steps are complete, each bag is checked at our QC station. We look for any sewing or measurement mistakes and constantly improve how we are sewing.

    Step 8: Tagging and Packing

    After a bag is QC passed, we add our Purnaa Hangtag and individually package each bag. Since this bag was going to Amazon, it also needed a bar code sticker so all the robots can do their work

    Step 9: Shipping

    The bags are put into boxes and properly marked for easy receiving at at warehouses in the West. After a call to DHL, they are picked up and sent on their way!

    Purnaa Store