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Earlier this week, I read this article from the National Post: A guide to ethical shopping shopping. It included 5 tips for buying clothing more responsibly. One tip in particular was especially relevant when it comes to buying Peekaboo Beans:
Buy second hand or be prepared to spend a little more.
Investing in fewer items that are higher quality and more durable is environmentally responsible. You are not only helping the environment by keeping clothing out of landfills, but you are saving money in the long run by not having to re-invest in clothing as often. When your kids have outgrown their Beans, you pass them along to another family member, or re-sell them on our Vintage Beans page.
In light of the tragic events that took place in Bangledesh, I have been asked by many customers to share information about where Peekaboo Beans is made, and what conditions are like in our factory. I am also asked frequently ‘why are these clothes so expensive.’ There is a lot that goes behind a price tag, and when the entire process of manufacturing is handled responsibly, we can expect to pay more for a quality product.
Peekaboo Beans is manufactured in Dongguan, Southern China, which is a very developed district with many garment factories and the support of companies, like fabric and thread suppliers, dying mills and printers nearby. The buildings are built to be factories!
In Dongguan there is competition between factories to have and keep experienced workers. Workers have the option of finding alternative jobs elsewhere if they are not treated fairly. That alone is encouragement for factories to treat their people right, but on top of that, the regulations in Dongguan for working conditions, minimum wages, and over-time, are strictly controlled and monitored by the government. In fact a factory owner can go to jail if he requires too much over-time of his employees.
The pressure of overseas clients changed the industry in China to introduce safety standards and improve working conditions, which results in increased manufacturing costs substantially. Unfortunately what happens in many cases is buyers move to other “cheaper” and less developed countries to get their clothing manufactured. In addition to the low labor costs in Bangladesh and other developing countries, generally these imports are duty exempt. With the increasing demand of cheap product in the western world, the savings on import duties and low labor costs is not enough, therefore additional cost saving measures are required, combined with corruption, mainly the workers pay the price.
Peekaboo Beans founder Traci Costa, production manager Michaela and lead designer Calli visit the factories in China at least twice per year. They have developed a wonderful relationship with the factory ground floor team, communicating daily with them regularily.
Why not manufacture in Canada?
Many customers have asked me why Peekaboo Beans is no longer produced in Canada. Peekaboo Beans was produced in Vancouver from 2006-2009 and moved production offshore in 2010. The residing fact is Canada is not a manufacturing country. The conditions in Canada are often poorer than what you would see in other countries. We do not have skilled labour force to manage big productions and we do not have the support companies to work with (ie: screen printers, fabric mills etc).
In fact all the fabric, trims, notions – absolutely everything needed to make our garments was imported from China and the 5-10 sewers in the factory were landed immigrants from China. At the end of the day, if you take into consideration the import duties applied by the government on goods made in China, we are paying upwards of what local production would cost, however we are limiting the environmental impacts of the multiple shipments required to get raw goods here and we are creating efficiencies in the production process. Simply put, we are producing with people who know what they are doing and are good at it. We do still have factory partners in Vancouver for small production runs that are manageable.
Driven by abundance and generosity
Peekaboo Beans is fueling the economy in abundance, whether with the people working at the Playground, the courier services, lawyers, graphic designers, office supply companies, logistic companies, consultants, printers and our own Stylist entrepreneurial businesses, among others. Everyone who touches Peekaboo Beans at any point it its development is treated with fairness, equality, respect and generosity. Myself included.
I have aligned myself with Peekaboo Beans because I believe in the same values. I believe in quality, in creating abundance and living generously. I am proud to tell people that we are not expensive, but that we care about real value in the whole entire chain. Peekaboo Beans is a socially responsible company and we care deeply about the legacy we are leaving in the lives that we touch.
We all have a choice to make when it comes to buying clothing for our children. Consumers are educating themselves and making deliberate choices as to where to spend their money. Annie from Phd In Parenting wrote recently that boycotting made in Bangledesh is not the answer. What we need to do is support companies that function ethically and with social responsibility.
I may not have all the answers that consumers are looking for, but I can definitely find them. If you have unanswered questions about Peekaboo Beans manufacturing, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about our continued work with Playground Builders in Afghanistan (and the world).