This piece published in a first printed edition of AEffect Journal explores how Blockchain frames a radically different relationship between business, supply chains and consumers. I interviewed key pioneers of this emerging movement - Jessi Baker a co-founder and CEO of Provenance, Neliana Fuenmayor a Founder of A Transparent Company and Bruno Pieters a Founder and Creative Director of Honest By, to explore how transparency will change our decision-making about purchase and what it means to consume.
It was the most inspiring moment of Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2018 to meet Veronica, the social entrepreneur and founder of Carcel, a luxury brand that creates an ethical working place for women in prisons.
Ola : Let's start from the beginning: Carcel clothes are made by imprisoned women in Peru and Thailand. What this partnership means to you and to them?
Veronica: We started manufacturing in prisons in order forthewomen to combat poverty, which is the main cause of female incarceration. In Peru 70% of female prisoners are there because of drug trafficking, predominantly cocaine, so mostly for non-violent crimes. They come from rural areas and are providers for their children and families. After being locked away for 5 - 17 years, they come out even poorer than before. So we are now turning prisons into production sites to give them new skills and good wages. This way women can make an income and get experience, save up for their life after the prison.
Ola: How do you monitor your social impact?
Veronica: There are no existing frameworks or standards, as we are the first global player doing this in an ethical way. Prison production is nothing new.But it has been contaminated by years of exploitation. Our purpose is to find out how to do it right instead of not doing anything. That's why we were contacted by the United Nationsto contributeour knowledge and we are currently working on basic ethical standards.
So how can we turn this around? How can we provide a living wage and good working conditions? We do itby taking care of our own production. We are not outsourcing like a majority of fashion brands today. We have a German production manager who is going to prison everyday to work alongside women, developing relationships with them. This way impact is measured on a day to day level. We noticed that depression was a very big issue in prisons, which we see slowly decreasing. The women are now sending money home to support their families which is a major shift in both their dignity and also the impact for their relatives. Women working with us have very long sentences, so further impact for reintegrating into society is to be seen in the future.
"The way I see it: fashion of the 21st century builds on what fashion does really well, being inspiring, self-expressive and visionary, but it also just has to work all the way throughout and solve problems across the supply chain instead of creating them. I believe people are ready for it."
Ola: You are representing a pro active approach to social innovation