Saturday, November 28, 2009

Anonymous Angels

We are celebrating two years of jewelry-making partnership with Angeles Anonimos (Anonymous Angels) of Lima, Peru. Introduced to the Angels by other partners we were working with, we knew immediately we had found something quite special.

The founders of the organization, Maria Elena, Jorge, and Adriana had backgrounds in the mainstream jewelry business in South America. Combining their expertise in jewelry with their passion for helping "unemployable" Peruvians with disabilities created Angeles Anonimos. A key component of their plan was finding a US partner to sell the jewelry. We couldn't be happier to be that partner.

The San Luis district of Lima is desperately poor. Jobs are scarce, almost non-existent for people with disabilities such as polio or the inability to hear. The year-round mild San Francisco-like climate here is scant comfort to millions of residents who live on less than $2 per day.  Groups like A.A. are helping to make sure that Peru's recent economic boom is shared with people in areas like this where the workshop is located.

Some pictures from one of our production runs:

Accompanying us on one of our trips were local Madison, Wisconsin video storyteller Katy Sai and photographer Jay Olsen of  Thank you Katy and Jay...well done!  You can view the videos below.  We encourage you to share them with anyone you think may be touched by the stories here.

So what's with the name? Maria Elena was surprised it was not obvious to us when we asked her.  She told us that every time someone buys a piece of their jewelry, that person is an anonymous angel. Someone they will never meet, but who is making a big difference.  We had several disagreements about this as it was quite obvious to us who the angels were. "No no, you're the angels."  "No no, you are!" But our angel-calling sessions ended quite amicably, often with huge servings of delicious Peruvian food. (we know when we're outmatched). Thank you Angels! We are motivated every day to sell as much jewelry as we can. If you would like to help us support them, it's as easy as buying a piece of their jewelry.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Green cleaning: beyond vinegar

When we searched for a green cleaning line to carry in Fair Indigo's line, the pickings were slim. Frankly, many green cleaning techniques rely on very basic household items like vinegar and baking soda--things that make little sense for Fair Indigo to sell (check out shipping costs on a gallon of vinegar).

But then we met the people at Caldrea and let's just say they spruced up our idea of what green cleaning could look like. Their motto is "Beautifully Clean, Elegantly Green" and their philosophy is that just as much care should be taken in how we clean our homes as in how we clean our bodies. That luxury, utility, and eco-friendliness are perfectly compatible.

The key is essential oils. Did you know for instance that eucalyptus and lime oils are antiseptic? That geranium oil deodorizes? Or that orange oil has antibacterial properties? We didn't either but we are having a good time learning. The little sample kits they gave us to try came back with rave reviews from our employees who used them. "My kitchen smells like a spa!" from Denise sums up the reaction.

This season, we're testing two collections with holiday scents. Rose Pomegranate and Cypress Bergamot. If the response is strong enough, we're hoping to roll out more extensive collections in the seasons to come. We invite you to be part of our test!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Promising New Partnership

First-time meetings with potential suppliers are usually pleasant enough. It's usually a polite get-to-know-you type of meeting, with a mix of softball and hardball questions, exchange of business cards, and a "we'll call you" ending.

When we heard about Jim and Sandy Martin of Oshkosh, Wisconsin and their 3-year old business called Green 3 Apparel, we were as intrigued as our somewhat jaded sourcing brains allowed us to be. We had pushed out the meeting for weeks, because, you know, priorities.

I remember the day well because I was uncomfortably over-dressed having met with "the bankers" earlier in the morning. This is nothing against bankers, only against tucking in my shirt.

By the time Jim had left our office, Jody, Katie, and I were buzzing around the room like insects figuring out how we could partner with Green 3 as quickly as possible. So amazing was their story, so wonderful was their product.

They had everything we stood for under one roof. Organic cotton, fairly made products (in a USA factory to boot), a design aesthetic that was modern but not edgy, fabrics like butter, eco-friendly dyes, prints done at a facility powered by wind and solar?! And, often forgotten, years of experience making apparel. And yes, they were a mere 2 hours away from Madison in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. (yes, it's a real city).

Sandy cultivated her green values first as a midwestern farm girl, then as an apparel industry insider, traveling the world and seeing first-hand the destruction caused to the environment, workers, and communities by the simple act of producing t-shirts.

Her heart told her there was a better way and we couldn't agree more. Here's a sampling of some of the Greenest Tees we could ever even hope to imagine...many more to come.

See the entire selection of USA-made T-shirts.