“I don’t want people to be slaves or get crushed by collapsing buildings!” - The challenges of a micro entrepreneur trying to follow his conscience without going broke.
My plan was pretty simple. Make some fun shirts and see if I could sell them. After taking a three hour screen printing class, I bought some blank tees from Jo-Annes and got to it. I sold a couple at the local elementary winter bazaar and I was feeling pretty good! After enjoying my small success at selling a few tee’s I started to wonder if I could turn this success into a small and hopefully profitable business. The answer was no, not at these prices.
The Jo-Anne tee shirts were inexpensive but not very well made. And, even as inexpensive as they were, I wouldn’t be turning much of a profit. If I wanted this to work for real, I had to go wholesale, get a business license, get legit and find a manufacturer that made a nice product at a rock bottom price.
Cheap, quality tee’s. Done. Until I heard some news that really freaked me out! It was 2014 and an eight-story garment factory building in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers. Apparently many of the workers saw the crack in the building that morning and were afraid to go inside. After being told they wouldn’t receive any pay, they reluctantly went in. The news story explained that the clothes made at Rana Plaza were sold to major brands like Benetton and Zara. I was bewilder. Where were my cloths coming from? Did people die to make my t shirts?
Suddenly my little t shirt business was potentially wrapped up in some super horrible global unfairness. The hunt for a socially conscience t-shirt manufacture began.
As a micro entrepreneur, you find yourself being dependent on all of these giant corporations. Some are ethical, many are not. From the t shirts I buy to the inks I use to print, not to mention the pens, paper, computers and on and on, big companies are the creators of almost all my raw materials. One can only research and pay attention to so much. I don’t research every company I purchase from. However, the materials that are the largest percentage of my expenses are the investment that I can make a ethical financial choice about. For Be Good Monster that’s tee shirts.
Sometimes you can’t make the moral choices you want to make and stay in business as a micro entrepreneur. But sometimes you can!
I started with American Apparel. A company in LA that uses only American manufactures. Seemed like a safe bet seeings that here in the states we have a lot of oversight on our factories. Yet, at the time I was hampered in selection and price by the small quantity of product I was ordering. It was affecting sales and I was beginning to think that I was going to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living as a t shirt slinger. Fortunately, more investigation brought me to another LA Company called Bella+Canvas!
Bella+Canvas prides themselves on socially conscience manufacturing! Although they use factories in other parts of the world, all of their overseas products are fair trade and are checked on to make sure Bella+Canvas policies are being followed. 10 Million garments are made here in the US and Bella Canvas is WRAP Certified (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production). Check out what WRAP does here: http://www.wrapcompliance.org/.
Bella+Canvas is also concerned with the environment! Huge Good. Check out more about Bella+Canvas anti sweat shop movement here: http://blog.bellacanvas.com/anti-sweatshop-movement/
In addition to all of this socially conscience good news was the news that I could purchase from Bella at a competitive price no matter how many shirts I was buying or how much I was spending! It's a complete win-win! So I hope you can have some good peace of mind when ever you purchase a Be Good Monster garment knowing we did our due diligence and did a solid for the workers of the world and the environment. Plus, these tee’s are so cozy, what the heck!