In our last post, we highlighted how our decisions as consumers can play a positive role in promoting human dignity around the globe. This week, we’ll explore what “cause consumerism” is, how CAUSEGEAR’s business model uses your dollar to tackle extreme global poverty and slavery, and how this model differs from other fashion retailers.
First, let’s unpack some of the major terms in the fashion industry today.
You’ve probably heard of fair trade chocolate or coffee, which have become commonplace, but in the past decade the designation has increasingly grown to include garments as well. According to the World Fair Trade Organization, fair trade refers to an organized social movement that "contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.” 
Ultimately, fair trade is a win-win for everyone and maximizes positive social impact. While consumers purchase goods according to their social, economic, and environmental values in what we now call cause consumerism, or ethical consumerism, producers receive better compensation for their products.
In light of the growing “fair trade” trend, many entrepreneurs on the production side have responded by establishing social enterprises—or businesses set up with a vision beyond the bottom line—to make a social impact using enterprise to accomplish missional aims. CAUSEGEAR, for example, is a “low profit” for-profit business, rather than a non-profit, because we seek to provide steady, fair wages so that our crafters can thrive rather than relying on handouts. In short, we believe that radical good can happen while still making a profit.
What makes CAUSEGEAR’s model different?
Our goal is simple: we value enterprise over aid, livable wages over handouts, and the pursuit of human dignity over injustice.
CAUSEGEAR’s unique 5X jobs model provides life changing, dignified jobs that pay crafters five times the average worker’s wage in the regions in which our partners work. Here’s how it works:
On average, the purchase of 30 CAUSEGEAR items will provide 1 month of life's essentials—including food, clean water, clothing, housing, medical, and education—for 4 people. The result? We empower not only each crafter, but also their families and dependents, to work themselves out of poverty in a way that is sustainable and ultimately benefits entire communities.
But CAUSEGEAR goes one step further. Using e-commerce supported by our website, we sell our crafters’ products on the Internet, therefore giving them a global market base. And because their stories—and their lives—matter to us, we include a tag on each handmade item with the name and face of one of the crafters who made your gear. You can even read your crafter’s own personal story on the Crafters page of the CAUSEGEAR website.
How is CAUSEGEAR held accountable to produce ethically?
Our passion for creating high-quality, ethical products is displayed by our commitments to local and national partners. CAUSEGEAR has partnered with Chicago Fair Trade, the biggest fair trade coalition in the United States and a national leader when it comes to ensuring that fashion retail is both functional and ethical. In practice, this means that the coalition focuses on “raising awareness about and building support for fair trade and its principles of environmental sustainability, ethical production methods, fair wages, and safe working conditions.” 
CAUSEGEAR has also partnered with Made In a Free World, which offers a platform through which we can proactively address supply chain risks, and the PovertyCure Partner Network, an international coalition of organizations working together to champion enterprise-based solutions to global poverty.
Ultimately, supporting the CAUSEGEAR brand also means supporting the incredible crafters in our CAUSEGEAR community and joining in our mission to see global change.
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