It’s not often that fashion, function and fair trade come together, but thanks to Goodforall, the time has come. In 2007 Marja Bass, of Amsterdam, decided she wanted to make a better world by making high-style items that promote fair trade. That desire led to the creation of Goodforall. The magic formula is the combination of providing good jobs in places where there are not enough at present, coupled with creating beautiful products that find a warm welcome on the other side of the world.
All products are 100% fair trade, 100% eco and 100% design, according to Bass. When she came up with the idea after selling her successful publishing business, the pieces came
together. “I went to a design academy and asked alumni to make some proposals.
We went to Calcutta and came back with our first sample. That sample was the
design ‘My Paper Bag,’ and we ordered 75. The ad was in the newspaper and had
800 orders,” Bass said.
With success, the Indians found it worthwhile to develop the process and make it so
they could keep up with production. “Without volume, you can’t get anywhere in
the world,” Bass said.
Bass knows that typical Indian design is more alternative
and less mainstream, but the craftsmanship is available. By blending European
style and the skills of the women looking for employment, jobs are created.
“In India the cow is the farmer’s truck and tractor. At some point in time as the cows age, there comes a time where the cow is more expensive to maintain than its economic value to the farmer. At that moment, the cow is brought to the slaughterhouse and the meat is used for beef and the skin is used for a Goodforall bag,” Bass said.
Bass acknowledges that the philosophy is different in India when it comes to the cow’s life. “In the beginning I was making a booklet about the background of the material. I wrote that the cows had a decent life; [the people of India] had such a laugh at me. They said, ‘People here are dying on the streets, and we need to feed our children.’”
By creating these jobs, the companies are able to provide employment, healthcare and education. “If someone knocks on the gate, they get trained, a job and can provide for their families,” Bass said. The goal for the future is big: By the year 2020, Goodforall hopes to have created 2,000 jobs in India. Elaine Wilkes, author of “Nature’s Secret Messages,” is one of the first retailers to offer the bags in the United States on her website. “The bags are beautiful, and they help create a wonderful world,” Wilkes said. “I was sold immediately. I realize that Marja really does want to change the world.”
Bass is proud of her company’s goals and the people involved. “I feel very good. I really feel connected with my heart to these people, because I have visited so often and have telephone conversations every day. It is good to connect wisdom to the East and from us to them. It is inspiring and a completely different perspective.”
Goodforall did GOOD today!
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