Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Interview with 4 All Humanity: Sustainably Produced, Transparent & Fair Trade

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fair trade women's fashion, 4 all humanity
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"Smart is Beautiful" Organic Cotton tshirt || c/o 4 All Humanity
Sustainably sourced and produced, fair trade, made in the USA, provides one month of schooling to Haitian orphan
Forest Green Stretch Cigarette Pants || AG Jeans
Eco-conscious textiles, made in the USA
Low Cut kicks, Bajo Gato Blanco || c/o Mipacha
Sustianably and ethically sourced and handmade in Cuzco, Peru

What a view! Michelle and I had the opportunity to visit the Ruinas Ingapircas the other day. It was so cool to see all of the different structures. I decided to do my photoshoot for 4 All Humanity there because remembering the history of people reminded me of the importance of the history of our clothes.  The people and places that make up the threads that clothe our society are so easily forgotten.

I am excited to interview the founder of 4 All Humanity today, not only because I love interviewing people that do things that help our society prosper in a positive way, but this brand is one of my favorites! It is also super cool that the founders are a married couple. Now, may I introduce to you a cute and trendy women's fair trade clothing company with sustainable, transparent, and ethical sourcing from USA, Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Uganda.

 Interview with Zoe Schumm, founder of 4 All Humanity

Why the name 4 All Humanity? 
We (when I say we I mean my husband and I) came to the name 4 All Humanity for a couple of different reasons. One because we really want this brand to be about helping everyone that we come in contact with; the cotton growers to the the end consumer. Even the person that doesn't buy from us, we still want to make their lives better by either educating them to the importance of fair trade or empowering them to make a difference in their own community. And two it's kind of catchy. It's short and two the point, which we both like. And it also makes you want to know a little more. 

Tell me about your production and fabric sourcing. How does your brand contrast that of small scale businesses that do not consider themselves "ethically sourced"? 
Well every part of our supply chain is ethically sourced right down to the fabric. Like I mentioned before we want this brand and everything that we do to help all who come in contact with us. For our organic cotton we work with a small mill in Tanzania. In organic cotton no harsh chemicals are used which is huge. First they do not have the growers or the pickers and two there isn't the hazardous run off into streams and lakes that would than affect farm land and drinking water. In your average apparel company there isn't this forethought about the cotton farmer, cotton picker, and certainty not the surrounding community. Their main concern is going to be with price and whether the fabric is going to come in on time. Very little thought is given to how the production of the fabric will effect anyone other than the said company.

Can you tell me what short term and long term impacts 4 All Humanity is making? 
In the short term we are giving artisans employment which is huge! They have sustainable employment which enables them to provide for their families. We also give them upfront funds so that they do not have to pay anything out of pocket to procure fabric, trims, etc. (which is very different than your standard apparel company). I'm not sure if two years is enough time to see true long term impacts, but we have already seen some very cool things happen. From the sustainable employment the women and families they are able to settle into a better lifestyle and not worry day to day about money and how they are going to eat. We have seen, in Inida, girls staying in school longer because they no longer are asked to get a job to help pay for expenses. The mind set of girls being a burden or just one more mouth to feed is slowly changing as life is less fearful for the parents. 

Does women's empowerment, education, and gender inequality play take a part in your business structure? 
It does but its not at the forefront. From the story I mentioned above it is a side effect. We absolutely believe in gender equality and women's empowerment, but before we can focus on those we have to deal with the more basic needs of food and education. 

How many women are currently employed? What were they doing before working with 4 All Humanity? 
We employ a little over 500 artisans, of which a little over half are women. Many of the women before working with us didn't have an income or they were working in sweat shop conditions for slave wages.

 4 All humanity, kampala workshop

How did you select the current countries you work in? 
It's a combination of need and what native craft or art form is the country known for.

Tell me about the workspace? What is a typical workday like? 
I'll talk with you a little about the women in Uganda. They have an open work space (attached is a photo). They have normal working hours much like the hours that we hold here in the US. They work on fabrics from cotton jersey to kitenge and pieces from bags to dresses. All the women have had some schooling/training in tailoring and sewing. Some days are busier than others if we are doing a large round of production. If we are doing sampling a few of the women will work on the samples. They have breaks regularly and leave in time to be home with their families to enjoy the evening. 

Can you tell me a little bit more about your founders? 
The founders are my husband, Josh, and I. We're two weirdos. He is definitely a numbers guys and very smart. I'm more your typical artists. We compliment each other well. He brings structure into my life and I bring fun into his! 

What is it like being a social enterprise among many other social enterprises, many of which are beginning to sell similar products? 
Well first, it's really cool seeing all the social enterprises coming into the marketplace! It's encouraging to me because it shows that the market is ready or at lest more willing to purchase ethically, which is awesome!! It's also great that these new companies are coming out with more on trend products, it will just further the fair trade movement even more. I'm a creative type and I always have something up my sleeve that will set us apart.

Why is it important for your clothing to be made of organic cotton? Are all of your cottons organic? From where are they sourced? 
It is important that the cotton is organic because of the ripple effect that it has on the community that the cotton is grown in. Like I mentioned previously when chemicals are used in cotton farming the hazardous chemicals run off into streams and lake which effect farm land and drinking water which has an impact on the entire community. No, not all of our cottons are organic. Only the cotton that is coming from Africa is organic. The other cotton is grown here in the US in North Carolina. The plant that the cotton is grown however is state of the art and the plant does as much as they can to control any of the side effects of the pesticides. 
Where do you see 4 All Humanity in 5 years? 10 years? 
I like to plan things out, and so does my husband, but where we are now is not where we thought we would be and the things that I've been able to do have been mind blowing. So I'm all for planning but being flexible. I'm very excited for our future we have some great things and partnerships forming for 2015. For right now I'm open to what the future will bring our way planned or unplanned.

How do you define beauty? 
I think beauty can be found in juxtaposition and contradiction. Not contradiction in the sense of being a hypocrite but in being able to be soft and feminine and turn around and not be afraid to get dirty. We as women have so much to offer. Yes we are soft and feminine but we are also strong, courageous, and determined. It's in the balance of the strong and soft sides that we find true grace and true grace is beautiful.


  1. Christine this is wonderful, I like that they are helping the people that live there by giving them decent jobs... education and jobs are the answers... what a wonderful cause... great interview xox

  2. Hi dear, I like your blog very much. Your pictures are great. I am just starting to following you, can you follow me to, pls. See you on blog. Kiss

  3. Great Tshirt and great message! Very inspiring :)


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