We never really intended to start a business. We had been working as a non-profit in Cambodia since 2006, supporting locally-run non-profits who provided services to survivors of trafficking (mostly teens and young people). Every trip, we asked, "What do you need?" and we slowly came to the realization that this was the most empowering project we saw; by giving people the opportunity to make a living wage from their work, we give wings to their hope. By empowering survivors of trafficking with employment, we support their own power to change their own lives. We aren't doing the hard work; they are.
These people matter to us way more than the bottom line, and we try to take a close look at the entire chain of people who are involved in making our products. Are they earning a living wage (enough to meet their basic needs)? Are they being empowered? That's why we call ourselves a "Sustainable Supply Co."—because we believe that when we buy a product, the cost of the item should be able to sustain every person connected to it with a living wage.
In order to really get to know the people who make our products, we travel to Cambodia a couple of times a year. While there, we shop in the markets for fabrics (the stall owners know us and love to see us walking up!) and travel to visit the organizations that make our products. These are all workshops run by non-profits that have the express purpose of finding marginalized or vulnerable people—many of whom are survivors of trafficking—training them in a skill, and empowering them with work. This employment is both trafficking prevention as well as survivor care.
We also have partnerships with a couple of other smaller groups; one is with participants of a program in Haiti that is designed to protect, mentor, and employ vulnerable women. Another is with an organization in Pennsylvania that empowers women who are experiencing homelessness with job training and income generation.
We are creating products that care for the human race—giving opportunity for individuals to care for their children, families, and health. . . so that a new generation has a fighting chance to break the cycle of poverty.