Bita in a Sarafina skirt.
Bita Diomande grew up in developing countries around the world where she honed a keen fashion sense while witnessing stark economic disparities first hand. She created eco fashion boutique Sarafina as a way to channel her love of fashion, and promote fair wage jobs and safe working conditions in low income countries such as India, Madagascar, and Uganda.
“Living in developing countries made me appreciate all the resources and human talent that they have. We in the West have often exploited them for cheap resources and cheap labor. Seeing this made me want to create a business where all players were respected and given a fair living wage. By giving someone a job, you can give them a hand to lift themselves out of poverty and ensure that their children will have a better life than they did growing up,” said Bita.
Sarafina’s skirts are lovely and attention-grabbing, and can be dressed up or dressed down easily. Patterns range from floral and polka-dots, to geometric and tie dye.
What I love about Sarafina is that they bring their customers into the fair wage cycle by showing them the impact that their purchase is having on someone’s life. When you click on a piece of clothing or jewelry at mysarafina.com, you’re told exactly who made the item. “Made by a village seamstress in India whose main income comes from farming.”
Sarafina sources from women co-operatives set up to give sustainable income to women, as well as designers using fair wage model in their businesses. The particular designers Bita collaborates with are known in their respective countries for using fair wage principles.
“These designers are social champions that need to be supported and encouraged for not caving and underpaying their workers to boost profits,” said Bita.
When Bita was in high school in India, she began designing clothes herself. She says India inspired the fashion fushion style she loves. With one look at her eco collections, it’s evident the country of colors has served as a muse.
Though Bita now lives and works in D.C., she’s able to see developing countries as both an insider and an outsider. This understanding has made her eco fashion boutique better.
“It isn’t good enough to do business with developing countries, businesses need to be responsible and ensure fair trade. I’m not talking about the trendy fair trade clothing and food movement, I’m talking about a system where all business transactions are done fairly regardless of the industry. I want Sarafina to be part of a movement that promotes sustainable jobs not because it’s a good thing to do but because it is the right thing to do.”
MySarafina.com is offering a special 15% discount to Eco Chick readers. Type in NEW at checkout. Offer is valid until July 31, 2012. Happy summer skirt shopping!