Ask yourself #whomademybag?
The fashion industry has two faces. A pretty one that you can find on catwalks, in magazines and stores. And a hidden one. That one is too often the face of poverty, exploitation or danger.
Ms. Bay wants to be part of the change. A change towards a fair, safe and more transparent industry. We only work with fairtrade certified cooperations and factories. We don’t hide our makers. We are proud of them and the stories they can share.
(Also check Fashion Revolution for more info on the global movement towards a more sustainable fashion industry.)
Chandana, 42 y.
Married and two kids (20 & 21 years old)
Works at the fairtrade factory for more than 12 years. When she was facing hardship and had to take care of her small children unemployed, her father-in-law introduced her to the company.
Since she wasn’t trained, she first enrolled in a traineeship of two months.
Afterwards, she started working in the fabric-department. Very soon, they discovered she was very precise and she got to improve to the leather-department. That is where she still works today. Alternately, she works at the finishing, packaging and quality-control stations.
Chandana has inspected all of our Merry mirrors before they were shipped!
Since she works here, she has a stable income and she managed to get both of her kids a good education. She built her own house. Her biggest dream is that also her children will be able to make a good future for themselves.
Naskar, 43 y.
Married, two kids and one granddaughter.
Works at the colouring and packaging departments.
Naskar worked as a ‘freelance’ extra for several leather brands. But these jobs were irregular and so was the income. Sometimes she had no job and at other times she had to work long hours of monotonous manual labour. In the fairtrade factory, her working hours are regular and she is able to also plan her family time. She also loves that now her work is varied. Sometimes she is packing products, but today she is working with her favourite colleague Jinnat at the finishing-department.
Mazid, 36 y.
Married and 4 kids; 2 boys and 2 girls.
Works in the production floor.
Mazid trains the inexperienced youngsters arriving at the factory. These boys, between 18 and 22 years old are super shy when we approach them. Mazid take care of them as a father. He encourages them to show us their work.
Mazid is tall and works around with confidence; offering assistance and advice where needed.
He roars with laughter when we ask him if he has kids. Although in our Western eyes he’s still a young man, it turns out that he is a dad of four!
Rasimaza, 45 y.
Married, two kids.
Rasimaza doesn’t work at the factory but is a member of a satellite-group who works from home.
These groups were started to allow minorities that live in rural areas to work independently and to empower them by providing them with a fair wage.
Rasimaza is part of a Muslim community. Here, usually, the men work and the women take care of the house and children. Her husband has an eyewear shop in the village. She works at the family-farm to provide them with food. In addition, she knots our Shy Shoppers.
The money she earns by doing so, she can spend on what she calls ‘extra’s’; clothing and care products.
Muskan, 23 y.
Her name means ‘smile’ in Hindi and that just is the perfect name for her!
Muskan works as an administrator at our factory. She started working here immediately after finishing her studies Political Sciences. She takes care of general administration and invoicing. When I ask her what her ultimate dream or goal is, she becomes super shy. Secretly she dreams of becoming a dancer!
Jaydeb, 40 y.
Married, 3 kids.
Jaydeb is our sample-maker. Together with him, we work on each and every Ms. Bay model. We improve them to the final designs you get to know in stores. He knows his profession thoroughly thanks to his 21 years of experience at the factory. Before he started working here, he made leather bags from home for several larger brands. But the job at the factory brought dependability, medical insurance and stability. He is able to pass on his knowledge to the younger men starting their professional lives here. He takes on the role of teacher with joy.
Mumtaz, 55 y.
Married, 3 kids.
Mumtaz is part of the same group as Rasimaza. She also makes shy shoppers.
As all women of her community, she is a housewife. She makes jam and pastries of the fruit from her garden and sells these to neighbouring women. The money she earns from her jams and fairtrade work helps her to be independant. She can now make decisions over her children and household without having to rely on her husband, who often is absent as a seasonal worker.
Utsav, 26 y.
Utsav is the son of the factory-owner and works closely with us as our account manager.
Together with his sister Ipshita he will eventually take over the family company that his father started 25 years ago. He started working here after completing his management-studies in London.
He dreams to make this fairtrade factory the biggest leather company of Calcutta.
Jinnat, 42 y.
Divorced, two kids (boy and girl)
Jinnat was so delighted when we interviewed Naskar, that we couldn’t resist taking her photo too!
After more than 10 years, she’s still happy when she can come into work every morning. She earns a steady wage and thanks to the family health insurance, she knows she can take care of her children if anything should happen to them. The stability this job gave her, made that she no longer had to be stressed over everyday matters. She can now enjoy her work, family and friends.