Since I first began looking for products for dignify (two years ago), there has been an explosion of fun, stylish, ethically made accessories on the market! My friend Robin, who manages the blanket operations in Bangladesh, noted that the tragedy in Rana Plaza has inspired a number of startups from consumers-turned-entrepreneurs who simply want more transparency in the chain of production.
It’s all great news for us! There are more amazing products for us to choose from as we continually curate dignify’s goodgoods.
Today, we’re launching a new line of cotton, patterned scarves, in a variety of colours. These scarves have been hand-crafted in India in an environment that focuses on empowering women through trade, as well as preserving traditional artisan practices.
I know, I know, scarves in summer… I just couldn’t wait to share them!
We love these leather, vintage-style schoolbag/briefcases from India! Not only do these bags fill my warehouse with amazing leather smells, I have to keep them tucked away in their dust-bags so that I don't just stare at them all day. Or collect them in my favourite colours.
The brilliance in the design of these bags is the access. There are three points of access, which allow them to look old school and classic, while functioning for the speed of today's lifestyle. #1 is the classic buckle. #2: on the top end of the buckle strap is a pop-off connection. #3 is the zipper on the back of the bag; it doesn't open to an extra pocket, it zips open to the main compartment of the bag, allowing you to easily pull papers, laptop, wallet, etc. in & out.
I recently received a very direct and honest question: A friend had popped into a well-known fair trade shop and noticed that they were selling the same type of kantha-stitched throws as she had just purchased from dignify…for $24 less. “Of course I support you,” she affirmed, “but it might make someone ask… why are yours $98?”
Of course, I had heard vaguely about this before, and I knew from the start of the project that the cost-to-sale price of our blankets were considered “less than ideal” for importers/sellers like me. But I didn’t know the details, and I didn’t have an answer. Now I was asking, too! Not because I thought $98 was high, but because knowing that it takes at least 4 days of labour to make one throw, how could they sell them for so little?
Well, as Robin, the managing director of BASHA – who make our blankets – said: “There seems to be a wide range of what people in Bangladesh call ‘fair trade’.”
She offered many insights into the industry and how others, including that specific producer, compare to her operation. Read on for a more detailed look (in her own words) at the operation behind our own “fair trade” kantha blankets.