Buy the Change is a socially conscious brand focused on helping women artisans in the developing world earn their way out of extreme poverty. The company gives customers the opportunity to have a direct impact by purchasing handmade accessories and home goods, which come directly from the hands of the women who created them.
In fact, Buy The Change is a certified Benefit Corporation that has been honored for this commitment. B Lab, the non-profit that certifies BCorps named the company to its “Best For The World” List in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
For Kari Hughes, co-founder of Buy The Change, the honor is humbling and an important reminder about the why behind her mission.
"This is not about me or even Buy The Change, it's about the women we work with and how their lives can be better," Kari remarked. Her approach to business is what sets Buy The Change apart from others in the fashion world and shows the power of ethical business.
Kari with kids in Haiti 2015
Kari started Buy The Change after working with women and children for more than 25 years in public health and as a psychotherapist. She has traveled the world, witnessing the effects of poverty first-hand. She founded Buy The Change with a friend in 2011 after deciding to try and make a difference on a global scale.
Today Buy The Change helps at risk and rescued women artisans around the world by providing them with access to the American market. Love Justly has the honor of carrying items from Buy The Change and connected with Kari to learn more about her socially conscious brand, the power of purchase, and Buy The Change's long-term approach.
Kari with artisans in India 2016
When you think about what you've created with Buy The Change, what makes you most proud?
When we travel around the world to visit our artisan partners and often see that girls are attending school because their mothers are earning the money to pay for it, I feel very proud to be part of something that is benefiting a family for generations to come. We know that for every year a girl is in school her future looks brighter on numerous levels.
When people purchase handmade goods from Buy The Change how are lives transformed?
We are committed to identifying and working with very underserved women, independent home based creators, small cooperatives and small family run workshops. We have found that these are the artisans who struggle the most to find a market for their handmade goods. Often the items are made using traditional craft techniques that have been passed down for generations.
We purchase directly from the artisans at prices well above what they could charge in the local marketplace, we sell those products in the US market and use the profits to buy more items from more women in more places. The women are always paid first and upfront. When you shop at Buy The Change, you are receiving a product that came directly from an artisan, no factories, no factory owners paying workers very low wages, no middlemen. The women don’t work for us, they work for themselves. They are building small businesses and have the dignity of independence and earned income.
Sometimes people may feel like the impact of their purchase doesn't matter, what would you say to those people?
I would say that everything you buy has an impact in either a positive or negative way. That’s why it’s so important to ask yourself who made the things you choose to buy. Your purchase can benefit unscrupulous practices and exploitation, or ethical practices, workers and artisans. Every small piece becomes part of the overall problem or solution.
Buy The Change works with a long-term, grass-roots mission in mind. Can you describe your approach and why it's so important?
My approach is one day at a time, one artisan at a time and one product at a time. Because the issues women and girls face around the world are so overwhelming, I choose to focus on the difference I can make. We can’t solve the whole problem but for the women and families we partner with, everything can change.
You have created a Buy The Change Foundation, can you please describe why you created this and the impact it's having?
As Buy The Change grew and we began spending time with our artisan partners around the world, it became apparent that they often desperately needed better facilities, equipment, and supply sources. Often they were using very old machines that broke down, doing tasks by hand that a simple piece of equipment could do in a fraction of the time, and paying higher prices for materials because they didn’t have the capital to buy in bulk quantities.
We believe strongly in the power of earned income but also wanted to help facilitate them in being as successful as possible. We founded the Buy The Change Foundation in 2012 to address these issues. Buy The Change makes a donation to the Foundation for every order from our website. Every Fall we invite any and all of our partner artisans to apply for cash grants. The grants are meant to eliminate any barriers to business success. The money does not have to be paid back. We have funded sewing machines, metal working machines, water filtration systems, roofs, cement floors, chickens, looms, weaving supplies, doors, English lessons and much more.
It's important for Buy The Change to not only help artisans around the world but to also be aware of its environmental impact, what steps do you take to operate as green as possible?
This is a great question and one we think about a lot. Many of our products are handmade from recycled materials, we use recycled shipping boxes and biodegradable mailers. In the office, we recycle anything and everything we can.
Visit Buy The Change to shop for discounted items from this socially conscious brand and enjoy knowing your purchase matters!
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Affordable ethical fashion is hard to navigate. On the one hand, ethical fashion is going to cost more because each person behind the product is paid a fair wage. As a result, the item costs more to make, so the cost to consumers is going to be higher. This is the way fashion should be...but we're used to cheap fashion. This is where Love Justly comes in.