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You deserve to know how your handbag was made

by Michelle Monato on January 14, 2020

Sweatshop.

There, I said it.

That’s the term that always lurks at the edges of our thoughts when we’re talking about products bought online, especially in fashion, that are manufactured overseas. There is this constant concern that you might be supporting a business that is taking advantage of the people making the products, driving unfair working conditions and sacrificing quality for quantity.

To be clear, I'm not making light of this issue. This is a totally rational fear, as workers rights are constantly being sacrificed in textile and fashion factories around the world. We've all heard the stories countless times, which is why so many shoppers simply try not to think about it.

In 2019, when Ivy & Fig was purchased by its new owners, that was one of our biggest concerns. The products were made in China and there wasn’t much visibility into those factories. We knew then that wasn’t the company we wanted to be anymore.

It’s our goal at Ivy & Fig to be open about where our products are made and why we made those decisions.

We’ve talked about this before on our site, but we moved manufacturing to Colombia in late 2019 because we found a factory there owned by a small family with the heart and the experience that we believed would create products that we could all be proud of.

Bogota Colombia is a Wonderful Place for Manufacturing

The mountains around Bogota, Colombia, where our factory is now.

 

Many of the workers in this factory have worked there for many years and they live in the surrounding area. They are all given regular breaks--they take their coffee breaks very seriously in Colombia--and their hours are managed to make sure people aren’t overworked.

 

The Building Matters

We toured a number of factories in Bogota, and while all the factories had good rules about working hours, wages, and clearly respected their employees, most didn’t reinvest in their employees the way we were looking for. The factory where our products are made is an old building, like most in Bogota, but unlike the other factories we visited, this one had spent time and money refurbishing and repairing the inside of the building. They built really nice restrooms and a good breakroom with a balcony where the employees can eat--or drink coffee on their breaks--outside. The building is clean and the workspaces are spaced out so people aren’t working on top of each other.

While the employees are all certainly focused on their work, they were having more fun than we saw anywhere else.

The Ivy & Fig Manufacturing Team

 

Who you Hire says something about you

 

We’ve said that our mission is to make a positive impact, and includes who you employ at the lowest levels.

Our factory is dedicated to hiring single mothers whenever possible. Colombia has a serious social issue with single mothers struggling to support their families on their own. By dedicating themselves to providing consistent, good paying jobs for women supporting a family, they are going against the traditional gender biases of their culture and investing in these women long term.

You can read more about this social issue here.

Workstation at the Ivy & Fig Factory

We're not done yet

This is just a glance into our manufacturing facility but we’re going to continue to share more so that you can feel confident that for once you know where your products are made. This is just the first in a serious of blogs we’re doing and you can read more about our factory at our Colombian Manufacturing page on the site.

Doesn't it feel like to actually know a little something about how made your bag? I hope it makes you feel more proud to carry an Ivy & Fig vegan handbag.


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