Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am originally from Iran but my Dad made a huge sacrifice to leave a successful life and garment business behind to give me and my siblings an opportunity for a better life in the US in the mid-80s. I actually went to high school in Germany but soon joined my family back in the States once I graduated. My Dad started a small knitting business which after many, many years of hard work, turned into what we have today with Nature USA. I’ve always loved to create things and growing up on the factory floor gave me priceless hours of hands-on experience in manufacturing apparel. Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone with a product I’ve helped create that is actually useful to them. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning….that and my beautiful wife and son.
How did you hear about Fair Trade?
I’ve always believed quality products can only be produced by happy, engaged workers. For years we searched for a way to reinforce and get recognition for all the good work we do for our employees, our community and our environment. I began hearing about Fair Trade products (coffee, chocolate, etc.) and was very interested to see if I could find a way for our manufacturing to be part of such a great mission. However, apparel manufacturing wasn’t even included as an option to be Fair Trade Certified (FTC) until about 5 years ago. I ended up approaching Fair Trade USA to let them know I was interested in becoming certified, and they let me know there were actually no FTC factories in the United States. So I quickly told them I would love to be considered to become the first. Because there were no Fair Trade standards in place for apparel manufacturing in the US, it took a year and a half for us to work through the process. I’m very proud of the fact that we did succeed in becoming America’s First FTC Factory in March of 2015.
What do you enjoy the most about working in Fair Trade?
I enjoy the fact that our workers have the opportunity to earn extra income and that excites and encourages them. To be able to get a few thousand extra dollars a year, as a blue-collar worker, it really can be a major difference in their quality of life. I am thrilled that my partnership with Fair Trade USA gives me the ability to actually make a difference in their day-to-day lives.
What is unique about Fair Trade products?
The Fair Trade Certified™ label on every BGREEN product signifies that rigorous social, environmental and economic standards have been met in our factory and that our workers earn financial premiums with every sale to support sustainable livelihoods for their families and communities.
What action items can our readers take when they shop for clothes?
There are SO many it would take me two hours to get them all out here. However, I think the most important thing your readers should know is that they have a LOT of power over what products they buy and how these products are made. You can greatly influence what happens in the marketplace by choosing to spend your dollars in an intentional and socially/environmentally conscious way.