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Monday, November 17, 2008

Meet a Clothing Maker from South Africa!!

Meet Stella - 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 second featured worker at Bug Zoo: Stella.

Stella is widowed with one daughter and her daughter is matriculating this year and is a talented artist. Stella lives with her sister in Cape Town during the week, but travels to her daughter and home in Wittewater on the weekends- small rural community 2 hours from Cape Town. Stella is our cutter and she is responsible for cutting all the garments from the patterns and then passed on to the machinists to be made. Stella started her career as a cutter 25 years ago- she used to be a machinist, but prefers the cutting.(she made her daughters matric farewell dress). Stella has been at Bug Zoo for 3 years. Stella loves the view from the building as it looks over the Cape Town harbour. Stella enjoys spending time with her daughter at home and loves working on her home inside and out.
A note from Bug Zoo: Stella is very energetic and never stops, she zips around Bug Zoo from the time she arrives to the time she leaves. She is also a very hard worker.
All 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.


MMJ said...

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

Visiting from MomDot's Blog Party Day 4!

Nanny A said...

That is a great story about Stella. I love how you are giving us a peek inside the walls of Bug Zoo.

Michelle@lifeinawhirlwind said...

Thanks for sharing this great information about Bug Zoo.

Tracye said...

That's great that you're bringing this to light.

Liz said...

I am absolutely amazed. What wonderful work you are doing. I am at a loss for words really...thank you for sharing Stella's story with us!!

Staci said...

I think it's amazing and very refreshing to see people choosing smaller, fair trade providers, and getting to know the people behind the business is very enlightening. Thanks for sharing her story!

caroline said...

Thanks for Sharing Stella's story.

It's amazing how much these women do for their families!

angie said...

I'm so glad you shared this with us. It makes it much more personal to "see" and hear about Stella and how her individual role is important within the umbrella of workers.......and how important her job is to her!

angie said...

P.S. Did I tell you that I am amazed with what YOU do?