Folksy Ltd

Are you wearing handmade without realizing it?

(Samantha Stanley) #1

I found this shocking article on “Bloglovin” today and thought I would share it all.

It concerns the practice among high street retailers of subcontracting highly skilled hand work such as embroidery to homeworkers who are paid next to nothing for their time and expertise.

This is something I am passionately against because these women (it is usually women) deserve better. It is as important for them as it is for me to be able to work from home, but they should not be exploited because of it. In addition, this devaluing of needlework skills depresses prices in the UK hand-made sector because the attitude of consumers is that it is “not worth much.”

Love Sam x

(Heidi Meier) #2

It’s awful isn’t it. That’s why I like Made in Britain type logos, so at least people are reminded of the importance of a garment’s heritage.

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(Roz) #3

I’m not sure that the “Made in Britain” logo guarantees anything. When my girls were very young and I didn’t want to leave them to go out to work I used to be an outworker for a local lighting company making lampshades. We had to fit the fabric to the frame and then add the trim. I seem to remember we were paid per item but if they decided any of them weren’t quite up to scratch you didn’t get anything for them, sometimes the covers were so badly stitched together it was impossible to fit them properly with straight seams. There were quite a few of us “mums” in the village that used to do this work - it paid a pittance, certainly way below the minimum wage, but allowed me to stay at home and make a bit of money while the girls were sleeping! Sadly I hadn’t discovered my love of crafting at that time otherwise I could have made something myself to my own design!

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(Heidi Meier) #4

You’re right that it probably doesn’t guarantee anything but I’d like to think at least there’s a bit of a chance that people are being treated fairly! Hopefully min wage etc does give people in those situations a bit more leverage these days although I accept there are companies everywhere who seek to cut costs wherever they can…

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(Samantha Stanley) #5

Actually, what has happened is that these “piecework” jobs are no longer available in the UK. They have all been passed out to India, Bangladesh and China because the prices these ladies are prepared to work for are a fraction of the (tiny) sums that Roz and also my mother and mother in law used to work for. Also, since the work is outsourced to the workers homes, there are no health and safety requirements, as there would be in the UK.

High street chains can legitimately say they don’t know about the homeworkers because they are subcontractors of their subcontractors, however this might be a convenient lie.

One of the things that really upsets me is the undervaluing of traditional women’s skills. If these tasks were carried out by men they would have titles like “master embroiderer” or “chief beadworker” but instead they are treated as menial workers, below the level of litter pickers, for example.

It’s worth fighting this corner for our own sakes as well, because the depression of prices in the hand-made sector affects us all. Lots of the knitters and needleworkers on Folksy struggle with very low profit margins, despite the fact they charge higher prices than the high street. This is all caused by the same problem. That consumers, many of whom are women struggling with their own work/childcare considerations and should be sympathetic, have been taught that the value of their work is worth less than a meal out, a garage service, or a tank full of petrol.

Love Sam x

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(Rachel) #6

Sam @SamanthaStanley I am not sure if its against the rules but like you I feel passionately about people being exploited and like Roz said having her own business would have enabled her to earn her own money without someone paying pittance and controlling her workload. So the bit that might not be allowed do you know about www.lendwithcare.org . You can support people to earn their own money and as its micro finance the money can keep going back into the pot.

I used to do homework when my children were little, checking lipstick tubes for an anodising factory - I remember the number of times I was paid peanuts for hours and hours of boring work :frowning:

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(Jessie Growden) #7

@SamanthaStanley They still are, and aren’t as badly paid if you can find the right ones! I worked at a luxury knitwear company over the summer, with over a hundred outworkers sending us hand-knitted jumpers and accessories to be finished (by me). The pay is good if you’re fast, and enjoy the work!

I think it’s about doing research before you buy. If you buy a £200 hand-knitted wool jumper that’s ethically produced, it will last you (at least!) ten years, rather than buying a new £20 jumper each winter that has exploited someone and will fall apart after the season’s done. (not to mention ewww acrylic, but I’m a textiles snob!)

J :smile:

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(Samantha Stanley) #8

Totally agree-properly made jumpers will last a lifetime! My grandmother made a Thomas the Tank Engine intarsia cardigan for my brother in 1984. Since then it has been worn by each of my step-sister’s three children, and my two as well and still only a button missing!

Love Sam x

(Samantha Stanley) #9

Thanks @GreenwoodMakes! I will check this out :smile:

Love Sam x

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