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Visible’s Strategy on Women’s Empowerment

Happy International Women’s Day!

We’re excited to be celebrating this momentous day with the incredible women that we work with day-in and day-out, as well as with you, the fantastic customers who empower women every time you purchase clothes made by our team.

As founders of Visible who are both male, we have spent a lot of time over the last few years trying to thinking about how we can use our position of leadership to have positive, sustainable impact.

At the heart of what we do is the core value that everyone needs to be treated fairly; our customers with affordable quality products, but more significantly, our employees. In order for us to be fair, we HAVE to be aware of gender inequalities and pro-active in finding ways to address it.

Here at Visible, we don’t believe in giving a hand-out but in giving hands-up. We have seen first hand that when women are given the same opportunities as men, not only do they improve their lives but they improve the lives of those around them.



It's obvious that women don’t need men to tell them how to do things - more often than not the need is simply for freedom and opportunity. Tragically opportunities are often held back from women, hindering not only their progress but also the progress of the wider communities.

At the beginning of this year, we have therefore focused on 4 ways that we want to be held accountable.

1 - 50% of the Visible Fair Trade Committee will be women

We established our fair trade committee in July 2016 and have consciously tried to ensure that women make up half of the committee. Additionally, we try to encourage all representatives to voice their opinions and help to think through how the DNA of fairness can be implemented across Visible.

2 - Any advisory board or leadership team will comprise of at least 50% women

We are excited to have just made our first new leadership hire and will be profile our new Operations Manager Suganda next week. We are hopefully that by having more women in leadership positions at the factory will have an impact across the whole organisation.

3 - In 2017 we will form at least 3 new partnerships with organisations who’s mission is women’s empowerment

We have been proactive in developing relationships with more organisations whose focus is on working with marginalised women. Over the last 9 months, we have been working with a group that works with women trapped in extreme poverty in the slums. Additionally, we’ve just reached agreements with two other organisations that will be announcing next month.

4 - Our Human Resources Policy Manual shall be updated with an emphasis on gender empowerment.

One of the first things that we did when we acquired the tailoring centre, was to ensure there wasn’t any gender pay gap for jobs that require similar experience and skill sets. Additionally, we have reviewed the HR manual and included new sections that go beyond legal requirements that are intentionally focused on providing more opportunities for women e.g. longer maternity leave, childcare options etc.

The fact is, that when you invest in women, they change the world. Statistically, women use more of their earnings back into their families, literacy and their children’s education.

Thank you for empowering us to empower our team. Here’s to Celebrating International Womens Day.

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Can Black Friday be Used for Good?

Can Black Friday be Used for Good?

Can Black Friday be Used for Good? 

Black Friday, a US export, seems to take a stronger hold in countries around the world every year. We've all heard the horror stories that come out around the world after Black Friday every year -- people getting trampled in stores, arguments over the last flat screen TV turning deadly, and people lining up for hours or days in order to be first in line. In the UK alone, 2015 Black Friday sales totaled over 3.3 billion for the weekend, making it the UK's biggest day for online retail ever. What is it about these deals that causes us to forget our values?
For us at team Visible, we watch with a conundrum. We're horrified at the mass consumption and the waste generated through Black Friday. I mean, can you even imagine where these products are made and the true costs of those products? On the other hand, we are a business and without sales, it's hard to have a business. 
So what's our team to do, then? What if we could use Black Friday for good? Rather than spend aimlessly on meaningless stuff, what if we could create opportunities for people to improve their lives? What if rather than buying a sea of endless faceless stuff, we could know the name and story behind each person who made our goods? 
As the team behind Eternal Creation and Visible.Clothing, we are comitted to Visible People and Visible Costs. So, this Black Friday, we are putting £1 out of every £4 spent with us to our workers' bonuses for the year. That's right. Call us crazy, but we believe that shopping can be a force for good. Every single purchase you make matters, and the impact that purchase has is up to you! 
Join us in making Black Friday #FairFriday, and know that £1 out of every £4 you spend with us from now until Monday, November 28th will go to help our wonderful tailors and Visible Factory team have a Happy Holiday, indeed!
 
We welcome your feedback and appreciate your support. Thank you for being part of the Visible story. 

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Can Black Friday be Used for Good?

Can Black Friday be Used for Good?

Can Black Friday be Used for Good? 

Black Friday, a US export, seems to take a stronger hold in countries around the world every year. We've all heard the horror stories that come out around the world after Black Friday every year -- people getting trampled in stores, arguments over the last flat screen TV turning deadly, and people lining up for hours or days in order to be first in line. In the UK alone, 2015 Black Friday sales totaled over 3.3 billion for the weekend, making it the UK's biggest day for online retail ever. What is it about these deals that causes us to forget our values?
For us at team Visible, we watch with a conundrum. We're horrified at the mass consumption and the waste generated through Black Friday. I mean, can you even imagine where these products are made and the true costs of those products? On the other hand, we are a business and without sales, it's hard to have a business. 
So what's our team to do, then? What if we could use Black Friday for good? Rather than spend aimlessly on meaningless stuff, what if we could create opportunities for people to improve their lives? What if rather than buying a sea of endless faceless stuff, we could know the name and story behind each person who made our goods? 
As the team behind Eternal Creation and Visible.Clothing, we are comitted to Visible People and Visible Costs. So, this Black Friday, we are putting 1 out of every 4 dollars spent with us to our worker's bonuses for the year. That's right. Call us crazy, but we believe that shopping can be a force for good. Every single purchase you make matters, and the impact that purchase has is up to you! 
Join us in making Black Friday #FairFriday, and know that 1 out of every 4 dollars you spend with us through Monday, November 28th will go to help our wonderful tailors and Visible Factory team have a Happy Holiday, indeed!
 
We welcome your feedback and appreciate your support. Thank you for being part of the Visible story. 

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BIG Announcement

We are delighted to announce that Visible has acquired www.eternalcreation.com and its manufacturing centre in India, www.himalayatailoring.com.  Check out the official announcement from Eternal Creation below! 

 

We have long respected Eternal Creation for their amazing fair trade ethos and for their ability to consistently produce quality clothing.  We owe a massive "thank you" to the founder Frances and her husband Rory for all the incredible work they have done over the last 15 years to build a sustainable fashion brand.

Frances will continue to work with us for the next few months and she is in the final stages of designing the next two children’s collections, which are so loved by the current Eternal Creation customers. 

Please check out the current products and we'll keep you updated as soon as the new collections launch.

This acquisition not only makes for exciting changes for Eternal Creation but will also allow us to grow the Visible Clothing brand, and overcome some of the biggest struggles that we have experienced on the Visible journey over the last two years.

The Visible focus has always been on treating people fairly. We are excited to be able to fulfil our brand dream and promise to make the 3 visibles clear - Visible People, Visible Cost, Visible Impact. 

On our recent trip to the factory (where we finally found out whomademyPJs), we had the privilege of building on our previous time spent there by deepening our relationships and understanding. We continued to understood more about the managers and team members' work, their dreams for the future, and together we explored opportunities for creating even deeper impact. 

In our first announcement of this new chapter, we wanted to share with you how we are planning on making the cost, people and impact more visible.

Visible Impact – We are in the process of formalising the Visible Foundation and have committed to allocated at least 10% of our company profits to this new charity.  We will be exploring with you collaborative ways where customers and team members can together provide input on how to most effectively use those resources to have a positive impact on the local community.

Visible People - We'll be heading back to the centre next week and will soon have a relaunch of the centre's website. We have a lot of ideas as to how to make the people behind the clothes more visible, but would also love to hear from you about what you would like to know about the people who are literally behind your clothes. Please email/tweet any thoughts or suggestions.

Visible Costs - If more people are going to buy in line with their values, we have to find innovative ways for fair trade production to be at a price point that is fair for the customers, as well as for the people behind the clothes. We will be exploring this more with you over the coming weeks and months.

 

So, we begin this new year and this next chapter with eager anticipation.  Thank you for helping to get us this far and we trust that you will continue to join us on the next leg of the adventure in partnership with us.

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Day 5 of 5 (part 2) - Have you got your PJs? - #whomademyPJs

We are back home from a fantastic trip.  Read the blogs or check out the video if you want to see a summary of the mission.

While the travel is complete and we found the people #whomademyPJs - the mission is far from being accomplished.  

Our vision is a world where everyone who makes our clothes is treated fairly.  

That's not going to happen unless we can be a part of convincing you, and a few hundred thousand other people, to part with cash and buy in line with your values.

So here it is.  We're all in on this and have MASSIVE plans for 2016, which we'll be discussing over upcoming blogs, but for now we are focused on making PJs - lots of PJs - and we'd love it if we can persuade you to get involved.

When we sat down with the leaders of the factory we agreed that there needed to be 5 values that were reflected in these PJs:

Quality - The tailors are great, their quality of work is fantastic and all pairs of PJs will be made with 100% cotton.

Fashionable - These are PJs.  While we won't be expecting invitations from New York Fashion Week any time soon, they are well designed, a good cut, and as good a looking pair of PJs as you are likely to find in the high street in 2015.  Was that convincing enough?

Affordable - We have done everything that we can to get costs to a minimum, even taking the hit and making no profit ourselves, while ensuring that everyone at the factory is paid fairly.

Fair - We have ensured that not only are the workers paid fairly, but that consumers are treated fairly, getting value for money and excellent customer service.

Honest - We would like you to be a part of the journey with us and therefore want to ensure that we are open with you about the whole process in producing your PJs.  

Visible Costs

Visible has always promised you a breakdown of the costs so that you can know where every penny of your spending goes.  

As a small start-up business we are aware that we can't buy fabric in as much bulk as we want.  We will make some money if we can reduce down our shipping costs by sending in bulk and if we can get to a sufficient number of orders that will allow us to buy fabrics in much larger qualities. We will do that in the future as we grow.

 

Visible HQ will not be making any profit on these PJs.  I know, I know, our business advisers will be freaking out, but its holiday season, all about giving, and we wanted to do as much as we can to take away cost as the reason for you not buying in line with your values.  

Visible People

They have a lot of extra unused machines at the factory and skilled tailors who want to work there but who are currently unemployed.  We were really impressed by the people that we met on this trip and the changes that they have experienced in life because of working at the factory.  Yet more can we done.  We want to ensure that the current team has enough work. Additionally, we hope to utilize the extra capacity if we can get to a large enough volume of production.  Not only would this lead to lower costs for consumers but also more impact for more factory workers.

Visible Impact

On the previous blogs we outlined the stories of the individuals like Sanjlia who works at the factory.  Her Dreams and Goals are exactly the same as ours: to provide the best possible opportunities for her family, especially her 8 week old daughter, Satwa.  Our desire is to work with the factory to deepen impact for the current team, and increase the number of people that are treated fairly.

So thanks for joining us over the past week.  We hope this giving season we can persuade you to get involved, please get some for you, your family, your friends.  Everyone likes comfy PJs.

Wear your values…even at night.

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Day 5 of 5 (part 1) - #WhoMadeYourPJs? Bringing the PJs Home

Our mission was to find #whomademyPJs.  We had a number of chuckles on the way, but most importantly, we succeed in getting to know a little about the workers that had actually made my bright pink PJs.

We were really impressed with how the factory is managed and seeing the impact first hand motivates us to do more with them.  One of the things that the team consistently said to us was that they wanted more work so that they could provide more opportunities for their families. 

While I appreciate the fact that I now own an additional pair of PJs in a less blinding colour, we want to do more.  So we've decided to initially take this to the next level and order, hopefully, hundreds of PJs from the factory.

We brought back a couple of samples to give to our friends and they loved them. 

Genuinely, they really did like them.

We decided to split this blog into 2 parts - alongside part 2 tomorrow we are delighted to be posting Visible PJs on our website, as well as featuring a video from the trip. 

We hope you'll join us on continuing this journey and wear your values…even at night

 

 

 

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Day 4 of 5 - What was the impact?

Day 4 of 5 - What was the impact?

Yesterday we met spent time walking through the factory and we were blown away by just how many people - 20 - were involved in the production of a single simple product - my PJs.

Today, we got to slow down again and spend time getting to know some of them as individuals.  

We briefly spoke with Shiwani, an expert trimmer who was smiling from ear to ear most of the time that we were there. Aside from genuinely loving her job, she will be getting married in two weeks and has been saving up her paid leave for the wedding festivities.

One of the things that we have noticed over the last few years is the community that can be generated in ethical clothing companies. Factories that value their people can build solid foundations for a genuinely collaborative & impactful community.  

Shiwani's wedding was the buzz of the factory and they were very excited that they'll all be attending her wedding.  Unfortunately we had to say no to our invitation to attend.  

We also met one of the most trusted members of the team, Ganesh, whose wife also works at the factory as a tailor. They are excited to have recently had a baby and she is currently on paid maternity leave, something incredibly uncommon in the clothing sector.

Ganesh is a great planner, hence why the factory trusts him to manage the deliveries and payments. Together they have experienced the enormous benefit of being paid consistently and on time - a benefit that we often take for granted, but something that is not the norm in the international clothing industry.

Lastly, we got to know one the fantastic tailors, Sanjila, and her family. Originally from Nepal and in her mid 20's, Sanjila has had a roller coaster journey through life.  Tragically her father died when she was 15 forcing her to leave school and support her family, especially her two younger sisters.

Using her drive and entrepreneurial spirit, she trained herself to be a sewing expert, working around the clock whilst also caring for her family members. Her reward was the fact that both of her sisters were able to complete their education and are now able to have good stable skilled work.

After the tragic earthquake in Nepal earlier this year, the obligations on Sanjila increased again. Thankful she had been able to send money back to her extended family regularly allowing them to have savings which they called upon in the aftermath of the disaster.

She continues to support her extended family and her dream now is to give her 8 week old daughter Satwa opportunities that she never had.  She longs for her daughter to have opportunities that she was deprived of both due to lack of resources as well as gender prejudices.  

One of the biggest reasons we have heard over the last 2 years as to why consumers don't buy ethically, is that we don't really know the impact. Well here you are.  

It's not about being a hero giving away billions.

It's simply the benefits of buying from companies that treat their workers fairly. The impact of doing business right.

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