Thank you for buying a Visible shirt! Below is some information about the people who made it, and a cost breakdown of who benefits from the money you spent on it.
Visible People: The people behind your shirt
Quan used to own a tailoring shop, however sold everything to pay for his wife's medical bills. Sadly, getting into debt to pay hospital fees and medication is a regular occurrence in Vietnam. He and his son (21) now live and work out of one small room in the middle of what seemed to me like a maze of alleys. His goal is to grow his business so that he can provide job opportunities for others.
Quan has access to equipment loans and training on how to run a business through our partner, Fashion 4 Freedom. All the equipment loans that go to tailors are 'payed forward' through the recipient offering goods and services to local people who can't afford them. That way the tailors do not have the huge burden of having to repay a debt. These loans and business training are crucial to enable tailors like Quan to get regular work that pays enough to live off.
Quan and his son with Visible CEO, Andy Showell-Rogers (photo taken in September 2014)
Ha and Thanh
Ha and Thanh are married and work together as tailors. 26 years ago they moved abroad for four years in order to earn enough to afford a tiny room to work from in the city of Hue, Vietnam. They recently received an equipment loan enabling them to employ more people and produce better quality clothes. Access to the loan was through Fashion 4 Freedom, our partner, who also provide extensive training on running a business. Instead of being repaid, Ha and Thanh pay the loan 'forward' by training apprentices in the art of tailoring. In addition to the apprentices, they employ 10 people who work in their unit, and a further 5 home workers.
It was a privilege meeting Ha and Thanh and seeing their commitment to their responsibilities. One example of where they go above and beyond the 'norm' with their staff is how they treat their homeworkers. The norm for home workers is that they are responsible for collecting the fabric from the shop/factory and delivering the finished product when it is completed. Ha and Thanh do this for them at their cost.
This might not seem like much but we then met Quy and heard his story.
Quy started work as a tailor at 14 and bought his first machine at 16. He is extremely driven and entrepreneurial. He currently earns $10.15 for each pair of trousers he makes for a factory whose client is a luxury brand; the trousers sell for $200. The problem is he can't afford to live near the factory, so everyday he has to travel 6 hours return on the bus, at a total cost of $20, to pick up the fabric and deliver the trousers he has made. He is being outsourced to by the factory. Fabric is expensive so they will only give him enough fabric for 3 pairs of trousers. He has just received a capital loan so once he has finished being trained, he will make products directly for brands such as Visible. Now in a period of testing (he gets paid for the work he does during this period) with Fashion 4 Freedom, he is looking forward to producing clothes directly for brands, growing his business, and one day providing employment opportunities for others.
Ha and Thanh with their apprentices
Ha and Thanh's staff working, and their apprentices being trained
Visible Costs: who got your money?
This infographic shows the breakdown of where your money goes when you buy a Visible Men's shirt.
While Visible is delighted to be part of job creation, we want to have a deeper impact on extreme poverty beyond simply creating minimal wage jobs. By working with partners who treat their workers and the surrounding communities with fairness beyond simply paying the minimal that is legally required, we believe we can have a lasting impact on the eradication of extreme poverty. You can read more about our approach in the Visible Impact Overview.
Our Men's shirts are made by tailors in Vietnam who rather than working at single production facility, run their own small businesses as individual entrepreneurs. Additionally, they receive training and have access to equipment loans through our partner who works on the ground, Fashion4Freedom. Rather than the loans being repaid in the traditional sense, these entrepreneurs 'pay forward' their loan and work within their communities providing goods, services and job training to the most vulnerable so that more individuals can overcome the cycle of poverty. By purchasing these shirts, not only are people being paid fairly, but individuals and the wider community are being empowered to be economically sustainable in the long term. We are pleased to be partnering with Fashion 4 Freedom and you can read more about their work on our blog.
See all Visible shirts.