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Friday, October 24, 2008

Meet a Clothing Maker from South Africa....

Meet Miriam - a worker at Bug Zoo

Above is a picture of one of the areas (Townships) where the women live.
As many of you know the clothing that I sell on my website, Hippos Toes, is all made in South Africa. Not only are the clothes made there, but the cotton is also grown there. So the clothing is all 100% from South Africa. In addition to being unique and adorable, the best thing about the clothing is the ladies that make it.

As I've mentioned many times before :), the ladies that make the clothes all come from very disadvantaged areas in South Africa, called Townships. We would call them slums here in the US. There are very limited income opportunities for these sweet ladies, they are often relegated to being domestics (housekeepers) or nannies. They are oftentimes the sole means of support in their families as well. So it is important that they have reliable and steady income. Not to mention good paying work and good working conditions. That is where the clothing manufacturer comes in. Bug Zoo works with an organization in South Africa that locates these women in these areas and offers them employment at Bug Zoo. Many of them have many years of experience as sewers and seamstresses and they can put this talent to work at Bug Zoo making the children's clothing.

A majority of the women cannot read or write, but they can sew. And they can sew beautifully. Bug Zoo either brings them in to their facility to work or helps them purchase sewing machines and they work from a communal area in their Township. It is a beautiful story and the reason that I fell in love with Bug Zoo and why I am honored and priveleged to bring you these adorable fair trade children's clothes.

The US market allows them much more opportunities to sell their work, which allows more of them to be employed and that makes my heart happy. I hope you feel the same.

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to our first featured worker at Bug Zoo: Miriam.

Miriam is divorced with 4 kids and lives in Mitchells Plein(a small community in Cape Town)- 3 son and 2 daughters. All her sons are out of the house and her daughter has started her first year of communication studies- she is very proud of her children. Miriam is the sole breadwinner.

Miriam started her career as a machinist in 1975 at a factory in Cape Town. She has been with Bug Zoo for 3 years.

She loves the working environment at Bug Zoo- although it can be pressurized, it is far better than being in a factory

Miriam enjoys sewing and even sews in her spare time- she also enjoys shopping and spending time with her family(she has 9 brothers and sisters)

A note from Bug Zoo: Miriam is one of the most dedicated employees we have and is an incredibly strong woman who has been through tough times- always positive and she has values that we all aspire to. A
ll Bug Zoo staff are dedicated staff who put in more that we ask for and we are very lucky to have them. We are a small team, but they are an incredible team that we are proud to have and proud to be able to give them employment as this is a very tough industry to be in as we compete with other countries like China, Bangladesh etc. We believe in the value of human rights and the right to earn an income that will enable them to support their families. It is important to remember that SA does not have a social security system and live is very hard for those who do not have a job.

I hope to feature different workers on my blog so you can get to know a little about them and why I feel so strongly in Bug Zoo and these unique children's clothes.


Chrissy said...

It's so great that you're featuring these workers and their stories. Such a wonderful mission (and message). Thanks for sharing this!

Jessie V said...

thanks for introducing us to miriam! i like what you're doing. important stuff!

Haasiegirl said...

I think this is amazing. Not only are you providing them a way to help their family and be someone, by featuring them, it brings personality and love to the clothing.



Sara said...
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Erin Tales said...

This is a wonderful feature! I was wondering why your clothes were made in S. Africa. Now I know.

Suzie said...

Great post! It really makes you feel good about Hippo Toes and what you are doing to help these women!!