Social Enterprise, Social Justice
Ethical Clothing

She Is Stitch’d – Bianca’s Story

Go to any shopping mall, and inexpensive clothes are abundant — $5 T-shirts, $20 skinny jeans, $10 sandals. But as we fill our closets, who really pays the price? Like most young mums Bianca Z enjoys fashion and finding a bargain. Unlike most of us however, this mother of two has seen first hand the hidden cost of those cheap clothes for the women in the developing world, who make them.

In 2008 she and her husband moved to north western Bali to establish a community development project and sustainable employment model in a collection of villages. They and their 12-month-old daughter lived with a Balinese family in a traditional Balinese home with only limited ‘mod cons’. Life was challenging but incredible rewarding.

It was during their four years in Indonesia that Bianca discovered how poorly the local women were being paid to produce intricate beaded handicraft projects. The work was demanding, the conditions were difficult and at only $1USD a day, they were barely making a living wage. Her response was to gather the women together and establish a self-sustainable social enterprise www.bebascardproject.com. This community owned card-making project now employs a number of local women who are guaranteed a fair wage, flexible working conditions and job security.

Having seen the significant difference that the Bebas Card Project made to the quality of life of so many Balinese women Bianca looked for ways to expand this model of ethical, sustainable and profitable business practice when she returned to live in Australia two years ago. In 2013 she launched ‘Stitch’d – Fashion With A Conscience’ a fashion and homewares boutique.

 ‘Our passionate commitment to human rights has shaped how we trade with our suppliers in Indonesia. We have spent years building close bonds with the families who make our products. We make sure they receive fair wages and are treated with respect and dignity. Ethical trading is at the heart of our business and we believe this is the way business should be done. I carry the cost of manufacture and supply so the financial risk is ours not theirs. I firmly believe in the principle of sowing and reaping and consider our investment into the lives of these families more than worth any financial risk on our part. I consider the families that work with us to be part of my family. I visit them regularly and 10% of any profits from the business are returned to support disadvantaged children living in a remote mountain community near the project.’

 It has been an interesting journey adjusting back to life in Australia and setting up the business but I love what I do. ‘Stitch’d’ has given me the opportunity to support families in Bali, provide beautiful clothes and homewares to our customers, connect with people throughout our community, and demonstrate that an ethical, fair trade model of business is viable and sustainable.

To find out more visit www.stitchd.net or check out their new boutique at Corrimal Park Mall, Princes Highway, Corrimal

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Photos: @zamire_raine

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