We took a short blog hiatus but are excited to let you know that we are back and better than we’ve ever been!
Our small team was taken by surprise with the success our brand has seen since our launch in 2017. We’ve been using this downtime to design new styles with new materials, make new partnerships, and are creating an all-new product line we can’t wait to share with you later this year.
To better prepare us for our future launches, we want to review where we’ve been. So, come along with us on this journey and let’s help lay the groundwork for what’s to come.
We work directly with several teams of partners to handcraft every pair of sunglasses in our shop. Many of our styles are made from eco-friendly woods like bamboo, zebra wood, hackberry, and ebony wood. These woods are sourced from all over the globe to ensure the highest quality and the most sustainable methods are used.
When we set out to find the right teams to craft our styles, we had a few criteria in mind. Sharing our eco-friendly principles was a must; supporting the highest level of human rights, worker safety, and the avoidance of child labor were non-negotiable; crafting a top quality product that met or exceeded the highest level of sun protection; and interpreting our ideas to create styles that customers would love rounded out the list. Our team met virtually with over 40 teams and visited the final candidates in person. We were shocked to find the teams that best fit that criteria were located in China.
Our first thoughts about Chinese-made products are probably similar to that of many consumers. Products made in China have a reputation for being low cost with low quality, two ideas that directly conflicted with our company criteria. In fact, we only reached out to these teams to do our due diligence in the fact-gathering stage of developing our company; our team’s mindset was firmly rooted in other countries that have a more positive manufacturing reputation.
After visiting China, our minds completely changed. There were different turning points for our team throughout the trips, but when we all landed on the same page individually, we laid out the facts. Despite the country’s large size, the economic challenges its citizens face are immense. Talented workers often must choose between living with their families in rural towns with limited job prospects or commuting into the city (which can be hours each way, every work day) that can be overrun with pollution but provide very little pay often in a dangerous environment.
The emergence of a young population has brought change over the last 20 years, generating over a 10% growth in their economy. These young citizens are demanding fair wages and voicing their opinions about social and environmental issues. A Fair Trade movement has risen in China, but many companies in the US are wary of carrying their products because of what consumers might think. When we sat down with these makers to have an honest discussion about a partnership, we realized our own biases had created an unfair barrier we were asking them to overcome.
Spread Hope is a sister brand to I Thought of You, a Fair Trade and eco-friendly brand selling jewelry and accessories from many developing countries. Our partnership with their noble mission has led to sharing stories, sharing struggles, and celebrating achievements that so many small business owners can relate to. One shared story that stuck with us is an artisan in a developing country’s desire to work to earn an honest income in a respected environment. Why were artisans in China not afforded this same dream? We were letting a customer’s perception of an incomplete story dictate our decisions, without considering this to be an opportunity to educate. In fact, many top Fair Trade retailers now recognize Chinese-made products as candidates in their lines.
The quality of samples produced by this team far exceeded those from other countries, we were simply getting caught up on the name of the country in which they originated. That honest look at the bias we had created ourselves sealed the deal. We had finally found our makers and were so excited to get this business moving. Providing handcrafted, cost-friendly, and ethically-made sunglasses had been our dream for years and it was finally becoming a reality.
Today we are proud to partner with I Thought of You to offer our styles alongside their complimenting accessories. We have a large project partnership in the works with them and are so excited to unveil it later this year. That announcement will bring together our desire to support local charitable causes while sporting ethical and eco-friendly styles you’ll love to wear.
Thanks for supporting our mission this far. Stay tuned!