Sustainable uniforms for Wellington Chocolate Factory
17 October 2016 by Samantha Jones
The Wellington Chocolate Factory already traces the ingredients in their chocolate - and now they can trace every stitch in their uniforms.
The company has teamed up with Little Yellow Bird, which makes work-wear products from fair trade and organic fabrics, to continue its goal of being as sustainable as possible.
Factory co-owner Rochelle Harrison says she is glad she knows where her staffs uniforms come from.
"That piece of mind makes a difference ... It also makes you feel good to know it's made with love."
Harrison says the factory has always been focused on sustainability, and this was just another step.
"We do the best we possibly can. We work closely with our farmers, making sure our beans are fairly traded and organic."
The company also has a waste audit with the Sustainability Trust, which tracks their packaging and power usage.
"From our uniforms, to our packaging, to our chocolate - it's in every little step," Harrison says.
She says her staff are pleased with their new uniforms.There was not a lot of variety in New Zealand for ethical clothing, especially aprons.
"They're very comfortable, and it's a very liked, durable and hard fabric.
"Most of the uniform stores here in New Zealand, especially in hospo, you won't find a place that I know of that you can buy ethical aprons from."
Little Yellow Bird CEO Samantha Jones says the collaboration came after her company shifted north from Christchurch to settle in Wellington, and began to look for companies with similar social values.
Other clients include animal rights group SAFE and Wellington Zoo, their biggest contract to date.
Generally, the process of creating uniforms, which are made in India, takes two to three months. They have their own stock, but most companies want something custom-made, she says.
Business is growing rapidly as more companies recognise the importance of sustainability.
"Most people forget, or don't really think, about the conditions that most garment makers work in," Jones says.
"Targeting companies is really good because they're bulk orders, so they can really make a difference."
The Wellington Chocolate Factory uniforms are made from 100 per cent organic rain-fed cotton grown in rural India.
The sale enables Little Yellow Bird to continue funding projects in this area, which include educational scholarships and micro loans.
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