We want to prove that everyone from production to customer can be happy. Our aim is to demonstrate that a clothing label can produce awesome unique clothing of a high quality, at the same time we want your experience and our customer service to be phenomenal every time without exception. But most importantly, our goal is to prove that you can do all of this without someone in the chain not receiving their fair share. We believe it doesn’t have to be at the expense of someone like many capitalists will have you believe. We think the system doesn’t have to be “winners and losers”. The system is whatever we all decide to make it, so let’s make a system where everyone wins.
Dharamprakash handmaking dungarees in the old factory
As you can imagine, this is not easy. We are far from perfect. But we are working every day to improve our social and environmental impact. We receive many emails form you asking about our ethics in more detail. We want to be as transparent as possible, we just struggle to find the time to write things like this. So heres Lucy & Yak in a bit more detail….
Our main range (with a dark green label or a sky blue label) at the minute is Handmade in North India. Our new White Label range is produced in Istanbul, Turkey. North India is far less developed than many of the other clothing manufacturing countries. We visited China and South East Asia but we never felt comfortable using any manufacturers that we visited. Ideally we wanted to work with Turkish manufacturers, with Turkey being virtually a European country, it is one of the best places for workers being paid fairly, but a stronger exchange against the pound and high minimum order quantities ruled it out initially (however we are now of a size where we can utilise Turkey and its benefits). We knew we had to find a small family business that would allow us to visit their factory and really get to see for ourselves how the working conditions were and if the guys doing all the work were happy and being paid enough. So we headed for India.
We found a region in North India renowned for its tailors and initially used eight different businesses to see which one shared our core beliefs. Ismail was the ninth tailor in India that we used and we knew almost immediately that we’d found our man. Thats not to say we haven’t had to work to improve things. But he already had a lot of ace things in place. For example his tailors are paid four times the state minimum wage. Some of his tailors live comfortably working part-time. The working conditions when we first found him were by no means the worst we’d seen, but still not good enough. So we are insanely proud to say that the new factory is now complete. Its bigger so they have more space to work comfortably. Its clean and the lighting is excellent. Air conditioning will be fitted in time for hot season.
Cutting the ribbon on the new factory
So slowly, we are working with Ismail and his family towards becoming Fair Trade Certified. More to follow on that, we’ll keep you up to date as it develops.
Contrary to what Donald Trump might tell you, We think the environment is pretty important. When you receive your new Lucy & Yaks, they come in a fabulous material bag. This bag is 100% recycled and they're beautiful so you can totally re-use them.
But we have bigger news…. we have switched entirely to 100% biodegradable mailing bags from Polybags.co.uk. We want to completely eradicate plastic from use at any point in the production and distribution of Lucy & Yaks. There's more work to do on that, but we’ve made a start.
Our new 100% recycled Thank You cards have arrived.
We looked at pointless wastage of a standard purchase. The amount of unnecassary things we just throw away is crazy; reciepts, tags, packaging. It is used for a few seconds and then ends up in a landfill somewhere. This has to change. By the end of November, every package we send out to you will only contain items that are either Biodegradable, Re-usable, Recycled and of course Wearable.
Raju contemplating doing some work for a change
Finally, the UK side. We’re still confused that the national minimum wage is lower than the actual living wage. It doesn’t seem to make sense to us that the minimum wage for 21 to 25 year olds is £7.05 an hour and for over 25’s it’s £7.50 an hour when the real cost to live in the UK as calculated by livingwage.org.uk requires an hourly wage of £8.45!!! We are a small family business, so far everyone at Lucy & Yak is paid above the living wage as per livingwage.org.uk. As we grow and employ more people, we pledge to continue this.
Thank you again for supporting Lucy & Yak, Ismails rural Indian village and our environment.
Lucy and Chris