What is the importance of ethical fashion?
Unfortunately when most people buy items for consumption, we usually tend to look for the immediate benefit. Whether it is that it tastes good, it looks good on us, it will make us thinner or prettier. This is where most people stop but there is more to what we buy, there is an ethical dimension. This ethical dimension is much more important than any immediate gratification.
With every product we buy there are people, or animals or the environment, or all of the above involved. When people are offered beautiful packages and attractive images of the products they are going to purchase they do not think about the ramifications of their actions. Our world is being shaped by our shopping trends! It is very clear. The moment in which most people become aware of the consequences of their purchases we will see a deep change. People will be treated fairly and respected, and the environment and animals will not be abused. So ethical fashion, and ethical buying could change the world.
What is the importance of sustainable fashion?
Just by taking a look at the oceans, and at the world as a whole we can come to realize that the current agricultural practices, and the fibers we use for clothing are creating havoc. Oceans are becoming polluted, fish are dying and we are eating the fish that survive but that are still polluted. Micro-fibers are one of the biggest problems our oceans face. They come from every washing cycle of synthetic fabrics. Has anyone heard of polyester?
Also on land, non-organic cotton is taking huge amounts of herbicides and pesticides that remain on the land and affect the people who are farming those crops. People are dying and are being maimed because of our infatuation with non-organic t-shirts. There should be massive national advertisement campaigns informing consumers about this. If people bought mostly sustainable fashion we would have a different world, a better world.
What is the importance of fair trade?
Fair trade sends a message that we care. We care about people regardless of where they are, where they come from or what their race is. By buying fair trade you can unite families, make sure kids go to school, and raise people above their poverty levels. Fair trade in a way is buying happiness for others, and in the end for you. There is no better pleasure than to give.
What about organic farming?
As I mentioned before, organic farming can make an enormous difference for farmers and the land. Entire families would not be subjected to a dim future or early death because of all the chemicals they are in contact with over their lives.
Sadly, organic crops are not easy to get in many places. This is because there are non-organic seeds that are more profitable for certain companies. Big companies look for profit, not fairness; I believe there could be a happy medium.
What are some of the main lessons you can pass on to new teachers and entrepreneurs?
Have a dream, make it real, never give up and always look at the implication of your dream. Starting a business is tough; it requires time and a solid state of mind. Keep at it, do not give up, tough can be fun!
What about in terms of bringing together the foundation of a company ethic in alignment with sustainability, ethical fashion, and fair trade?
As a company, from day one, you have to have a type of “constitution” where all these values are weaved into every action, though or conversation. Your company has to breath, eat and feel these values. Profits and ethics should not fight each other. Sometimes it might be tempting to turn the blind eye and go for more profit but if you have your “constitution” present from day one you will always be reminded to return to the right path. And you will be happy about it!
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
I am also the foreign language department chair at a public school. For me it is great to be in touch with kids, it keeps me young and helps me keep my dreams alive.
What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?
My work at school is very rewarding, when I see kids having fun and learning I end up feeling like them, energized. When I walk among my students and I realize they can say things in another language because I taught them is a great feeling, I feel like I am doing something good for their future. Regarding my work at our company (It belongs to my wife Maribel, her brother Pedro and me) I cannot be happier! My wife loves to design, I love to work on the website, talking to people, clients and suppliers. I love learning and that is what I do every day!
With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them to you?
In the nineties I came across a factory were girls worked long ours everyday. This factory was in Burma, I will always remember their happy faces; these girls felt blessed because they could contribute to their family welfare. They did not know that they could go to school if we change our buying patterns. I thought of them years later when we started Jolly Dragons. For me ethical and sustainable companies, in general, not only those regarding fashion are key to a better and happier world.
Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?
I would like to remind people that might not have the purchase power to buy everything ethical and sustainable that there are ways to contribute. Always recycle by sharing clothes that can be still worn but you have no more use for. Buy fewer clothes! Create a list of combinations and you will realize that you will need less, which will mean that you can spent that money in ethical and sustainable fashion. These are little changes that can have a great impact.
Thank you for your time, Werner.