Freedom is by far a value that everyone cherishes (and boy do we all know it now, as we sit in our restricted environments.)
It was freedom that pushed me into my business. It pushed me because hell for me was the idea of working full time for a company.
It was that abhorrence of being a slave to a company that ricochet me into getting on a plane that Spring day, flying to Bali Indonesia, buying clothing on the street, bringing the clothing back to the US, and standing at a booth on a hot summer day in New York City to try to sell it- all in the name of my own personal freedom.
But what ended up happening is by buying in Bali, I was buying from women owned businesses and contributing to their freedom too!
The women I bought from made enough money to support their families. The businesses we buy from, we manufacture with, and which gets our business, are those businesses where everyone wins!
My customers win by getting gorgeous, affordable clothing, the vendors in Bali win by having a business that supports them and their families, and I win by generating an income AND the knowledge that I have contributed to a tiny bit of goodness in the world.
Even though prices are much cheaper in other Asian countries such as China, Bangladesh and India, we have continued to be committed to ethical manufacturing which means paying well for the clothing so that the owners and their workers can not only support their families but that they can also live a life of dignity and freedom.
Wayan, my very first manufacturer, had previously been selling sarongs on the beach. This is grueling work, spending hours in the intense Indonesian heat with piles of sarongs balanced on her head and going tourist to tourist to try to sell something that cost $1.
At some point, Wayan started her own children’s clothing business, which was when I met her. Many years later, I was thrilled to see that Wayan, her husband and her children owned two houses, a car, and was putting their children through University.
We worked together for over 20 years, and sadly she passed away a couple years ago, but she left her family with a thriving business and an education behind them that she financed so that they could go into the world and lead thriving lives for their own families.
These are the kind of women we partner with. The photo here shows Ayu with her two teenage children. She owns a well-established business where she makes hand painted batik fabric and tie-dye for our beloved ponchos and cover-ups. Ayu’s business is family run; Her husband oversees the production of the batik and tie dye work and her children help out in the shop after school.
With this pandemic, each of us must ask ourselves how our actions are affecting all aspects of our life. Where we choose to put our money, whom we are giving our money to, and what the ethics are behind a company is now essential to know.
Perhaps we truly are moving into a new world where that matters and not only the bottom line of a company! Wouldn’t that be revolutionary! It is now essential for people to understand the influence they have when they make buying decisions; this includes, the food you eat, the services you pay for AND the clothing you wear.
Each of us contributes to either goodness or continuation of unethical companies and behaviors. What are you going to contribute to – finding the lowest cost and lowest quality food to put in your body, or the lowest, cheapest clothing you can find made by who knows where and by whom - or to something else? What are you going to contribute to? What do you want your life to stand for?
I am proud that Back from Bali has been built on a foundation of goodness for the Balinese people, the women who have small businesses there, and the offers we give our customers to buy authentic, affordable and original clothing,.
Let’s all continue in this direction!