After Tribe member and close friend/advisor Pierce McNally read Marie Malinowski's recent article in The Examiner (in regards to the 'how' and 'why' behind our direct trade business model), he felt inspired to weigh in on the topic of conscious consumption. Here's what Pierce has to say...
I am thrilled to have been introduced to Ethnotek bags for numerous reasons. I flat out love the bags and don’t travel anywhere without mine. It’s practical, it’s beautiful and it helps me as well as many people around the world. It helps me because the company that makes the bag has a business model that resonated with me and alleviated a sharp, lingering pain I had from a previous retail experience. Let me tell you a story.
Pierce rocks the India 8 Woven Wayu Daypack on his everyday adventures.
I am partial to long sleeve, button down, well made, soft hand, blue Bengal stripe cotton shirts. Yes, I am a little particular about it. A year or two ago, I strolled into Costco looking for Salmon and what do I stumble upon but a whole table full of the exact shirt I just described. EUREKA! And they were priced at $12.99, made in Bangladesh, I think. Thinking there was no way the shirt would meet my list of criteria, I was astounded to find that the shirt passed every test with flying colors (blue) without question. I bought several. Then I started to think about it. Let’s see, there’s the fabric, the construction, the buttons, the quality control, the packing, the shipping and distribution to the consumer. For $12.99? Really?! The more I thought about it, the more improbable it seemed that a shirt of that quality, normally retailing for 4-6 times that amount, could conceivably be produced for that price to the consumer. And I concluded that the only way this could happen is if the weakest link in the chain of production and distribution got squeezed the hardest. That would be the people in Bangladesh actually doing the fabrication who must have worked on it for nothing, or next to it. Now I didn’t feel so good about my shirts. Now it felt like I had inadvertently bought into a system that was inflicting pain on those least able to withstand it. The bargain that I had struck by buying the shirt simply wasn’t, in the end, fair. It’s not fair to take a good at a price that can only be had if the people down the chain don’t get what they should have. And what they should have is fair treatment for their input in exchange for making the commercial opportunity available to globally-sourcing companies like Costco. So, I gave the shirts away but a bad taste lingered in my mouth.
Master weaver Vankar Shamji of Bhuj, Gujarat, India sharing the textile that is featured on the India 8 Woven Thread.
How different are my thoughts about sporting my Wayu bag on my back wherever I go! Ethnotek forms direct trade partnerships with artisans and craftspeople to provide the artistic and colorful threads to adorn the bags and make them special. They work with communities around the globe to get their product into a stream of commerce that allows them to expand what they’re good at and keep doing it under improving conditions. And they make this work available to consumers everywhere at a good price; not cheap, but good and competitive, too. When I wear my Wayu bag, I’m proud of it, I’m proud of the people who made it, I’m proud of at least trying to work some real sustainability into my everyday life and, yes, I feel better about myself. Thanks, Ethnotek, and keep up the good work!
Master weaver Vankar Shamji happily posing with his father Vishram Valji.
A little bit about the guest Tribe writer, Pierce McNally:
Pierce is a modern day renaissance man and one of our most loyal Tribe members, and has bought Wayu Daypacks for both himself and his daughters. He values the notion of conscious consumption and is passionate about products that are both aesthetically beautiful and stand for something good. Since being welcomed into the Tribe, Pierce - who is an accomplished businessman currently serving as Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel at CieloStar, Senior Attorney at Gray Plant Moody and more - has been a sounding board to the Ethnotek team and a source of energy and inspiration for the brand and for Jake, Josh and Megan. He likes to think of Ethnotek as a "Family Company. Tribally Organized. Globally Engaged." We dig that. In his free time, Pierce travels the world, writes books, and deadlifts 350lbs. Yeah, he's most certainly a dude.