Hey guys, another day, another blog post. This topic has been on my mind for a while now, especially after I got the same question multiple times over the holiday season…
“So where do the proceeds go?”
I will be totally honest, I have actually answered this question by saying, “Ummm, they go to the company bank account...” Any PR firm would tell me that is not a good answer to this question - in fact, it’s pretty rude and usually coming from a very tired business owner. But the fact is, Sh*t That I Knit is not a non-profit, and guess what - neither is our team in Lima. In fact, our team in Lima (where I’m assuming people think the proceeds go), is a sophisticated, hard-working group of entrepreneurs.
As customers, many of us hear about a company "giving back", and we're trained to think that the company operates on a one-for-one model (like TOMS or Warby Parker). We love the way these companies, and we're very supportive of their missions. But, at STIK, we are giving back by simply doing business the right way. We are employing people and paying them a fair wage for the work that they do. Plus, we are using sustainable materials that are good for the earth. Pretty straightforward, huh?
But before you X out of this thinking we aren’t doing enough, let me explain how the way we’ve chosen to do business is making a difference, without it being a charity.
- The product creation process starts in Arequipa, Peru, where all of our yarn is made. That yarn is made especially for STIK with 100% Merino Wool (or for wraps - 100% Baby Alpaca). It’s super chunky, warm, and 100% real. That yarn is then distributed to our team of knitters, which is comprised of lots of different groups of women.
- Each group has a Knitting Leader - she trains and manages anywhere from 10 to 80 knitters in her group.
- The Knitting Leader owns her own business. With our help, she learns how to calculate the cost of each garment PLUS the overhead she incurs by running a business (cell phone bills, accountant, rent, transportation - you name it). On top of the costs, she also factors in her profit and the taxes associated with running a biz. Who needs Business School?! It’s complex, sophisticated and a lot of work.
- Each knitter is paid a fair wage based on the hourly standards of the Peruvian Work Ministry - the Knitting Leader determines the hours associated with each garment and pays accordingly.
- Many of the women working in our groups have only worked informally, on a cash basis for other brands. In our case, they all have bank accounts, direct deposits, and pay taxes.
- Peru is considered a chauvinistic society. It’s rare for women to find work outside of the home, especially when they have children. The work they do for us provides financial independence, plus the flexibility to work from or close to home. Many of the women who run our knitting groups have lived lives far different than I have - moving to Lima at a young age to find work in a home, getting pregnant quite young, or not completing Secondary School. We’re providing unique opportunities that truly make a difference in their lives and in their children’s lives.
So, sparknotes version: we pay our team in Lima the same way we pay our team in Boston - fairly and for the work that they do.
Speaking anecdotally from my first visit to our team in Lima, the knitting groups mean far more than just an occupation to many of these women. We went around and listened to stories of friendship, support, and fulfillment - how this job, for many of the women, creates greater meaning in their lives.
What does this mean for you?? By supporting Sh*t That I Knit, you are supporting this wonderful supply chain. You are choosing to support a group of artisans over mass-produced, fast fashion brands. We care about our team and work together collaboratively.
We’ll write a separate blog post about how the Give-A-Sh*t Knit Kits came to be - it was organic and authentic and simply a wonderful way to use our platform to give back to our community of young adults. But for the time being, I hope you can appreciate how a small business like Sh*t That I Knit is making a difference in women’s lives in Peru by being fair, honest business people.