It's Not Just About a Fair Wage

When I introduce myself at parties, event, etc. as the owner and designer of a women's fair trade clothing line, it is not uncommon that I get asked, "What is Fair Trade?" And honestly, I have a hard time boiling the definition down into one sentence. Providing a fair wage is only one out of the many benefits that Passion Lilie's artisans receive. I like to describe fair trade as a trade based system that focuses on creating a positive and uplifting working environment.

This week, I wanted to shed a spotlight on the artisan group in India that does all our block printing in natural (plant and vegetable based) dyes. 

The block printing workshop started in 1969 by a hand loom weaver and now his two sons have taken over. Both brothers are not only dedicated and extremely knowledgeable on this art form, but they are also good, trustworthy people who have created an amazing and uplifting working environment.

The workshop regularly employ about 10 women and men from a variety of religious backgrounds: Muslim, Christian and Hindu. Despite the religious differences, they all work in peace together. Some artisans have been with the workshop for as long as 35 years. 

Thanks to the work that this workshop has provided, the artisans are living above poverty, but many of their neighbors in the small village are struggling and in poverty. Not only does the workshop pay fair wages that are above the national minimum average and above what other workshops are paying, but they also offer many benefits.  


* One new saree (typical Indian dress) with petticoats per year
* Bedcovers
* Health care- one woman needed cataract surgery & the workshop helped pay for it
* Payment into a retirement fund
* Safe and clean working conditions
* Pay advancements or loans if needed
* Double pay if they choose to work overtime
* Time off for personal or religious needs
* Land and housing assistance for those who are in need. The owners of the workshop gifted some of their father’s land and 20,000 INR (about $330) for doors and windows to four different faithful workers who had been woking for them for 20+ years. Government assistance was available for additional building materials such as toilets and electricity


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