Laundromat Fair Trade
Laundromat…? Sorry, we don't do laundry, repair washing machines or make alterations, but if you're looking for the most stylish, comfortable, handknit woolens around, then you've found the right company.
Laundromat wants to help you look your best while fighting off the cold. Since 2000 we have been combining our Canadian designs with the skills and talents of knitters from Nepal in order to bring you some of the best handknits around.
Our overall mission, however, goes beyond style and comfort. We are committed to ensuring that all parties involved in our business are treated respectfully, fairly and equitably. You can rest easy knowing that our colour dyes are eco-friendly, that our products are made with 100% natural wool, and that those who make our products are treated with respect, paid fairly and work in a healthy environment. We invite you to take comfort in our knitwear.
Why the name Laundromat?
Guarding your favourite clothing from fashion thieves (be they roommates, fellow students, siblings or strangers) can be extremely challenging. Like hundreds of other students, company owner, Francis Dubé, spent many long hours in the university laundromat keeping watch over his most prized articles of clothing. Years later, when searching for a unique way to market his knitwear, Francis thought back to the university laundromat. He thought of those dedicated students, who would study, chit-chat, and mill around while guarding their favourite stuff, lest it should disappear. Our hope is that you will come to love your Laundromat woolens so much, that you will grant them equal love and protection..
Thank you for your interest in fair trade fashion
We strive to ensure that all parties involved in our business (be it the planet, the artisans in Nepal, or our Canadian team members) are all treated fairly and respectfully.
Laundromat is a member of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). According to the FTF website (www.fairtradefederation.org/): 6 trillion of all goods exchanged globally, fair trade accounts for only .01%. We are proud to be a part of that ever growing .01% and we are fully committed to following the FTF membership criteria including:
Paying fair wages in local context
The majority of the artisans who produce our knitwear are women from small villages around Kathmandu, Nepal. These women work from their own homes, at their own pace, for their own profit. They are paid per item in local currency (rather than through barter or trade), which grants them increased purchasing power. This system significantly empowers these women, not only within their own households, but also within the community at large. Wages per item are established through negotiation between our suppliers and the master knitters (experienced knitters who represent each village or region). These artisans make significantly more than the national average income per household. By supporting artisan production and implementing fair trade practices we are helping many of these families to increase their standard of living.
Our supplier also employs over 150 people in their distribution centre (DC) in Kathmandu. Here our products are trimmed, fleece lined, tagged, inspected, and shipped. The employees in the DC enjoy some of the best working conditions in Nepal. The DC is a brand new lightning proof and earthquake proof (up to 8.3 Richter scale) building, with large windows, excellent ventilation, fire exits on all floors, World Health Organization (WHO) standard water quality, showers, toilets, a generator for power shortages, and a quiet garden for lunch breaks. Employees generally work 8 hour days, with proper lunch and tea breaks. They earn double their hourly wage for overtime hours worked during rush periods. Wages, breaks, holidays, and other employee rights are all determined through negotiation.
Maintaining Cultural Integrity
Artisan production from home allows these families to maintain their cultural integrity and traditional lifestyle. These women continue to look after their children and households while earning extra income for their families. This type of production helps to curb mass migration into Kathmandu.
Different than conventional trade
Laundromat's unique relationship with its supplier began over 13 years ago, when owner/founder, Francis Dubé met a young Tibetan couple that was taking over the family knitting business. Since then Francis Dubé and Laundromat (established in 2000) have had one, exclusive, knitwear supplier. Our businesses have grown and evolved together over the years and we now enjoy a kind of symbiosis with Nepali counterparts. Over the years we have helped our supplier in all ways possible (buying a generator so production does not stop during power shortages; lending money; helping to build more adequate facilities for our Nepali employees). Our personal relationship with them is also close-knit. Francis has traveled to Nepal over 25 times, oftentimes staying in his supplier's home and befriending many of the DC workers.