When People Tree was first launched, it was because our founders wanted to find a kinder way to make fashion. Knowing the abuses rife in the industry, they sought out producers who shared their ideals: fair pay, good conditions, and the chance to raise up the communities in which the workers lived.

The relationship we have with our producers goes beyond us placing orders and waiting for them to arrive in the UK, EU or Japan. It’s a true partnership. With some, our design team integrate traditional techniques into contemporary styles, ensuring that they don’t die out but are instead appreciated by a wider audience. For others, we’ve introduced new fabrics and provided training so that their teams learn new skills they can offer to a wider range of client companies and further secure the livelihood of their community.

This exchange of knowledge and ideas has brought a closer bond, and as a team we’ve been truly touched by the birthday messages we’ve received from our producers. This is as much their achievement as ours because we could not do this without them. We’ve shared three of the messages below, but you can see more on our social media stories.

DevTech Associates

Staff at DevTech preparing to distribute food to their community during the covid pandemic

“It’s not just People Tree’s anniversary. It’s an anniversary of a family because you have taken us to a whole new height with all successes in all these years. Let’s make this day a big one for each one of us. 

Happy 30th anniversary!”

People Tree has been working with Bangladesh-based DevTech since 2009, when Safia visited them to talk about their beautiful raised weaving. Over the years they have produced some of the most-loved garments we’ve ever sold, including the beautiful red shirt in our collaboration with Emma Watson, and this season’s Roberta Striped Dress that has been such a hit with customers.

Having sent members of our team to Dev Tech to assist with training and sharing knowledge, we were not at all surprised to see them rise to the challenge of supporting their community during the pandemic (see pic above). We are so proud to be associated with the lovely team there, who have as much heart as talent.

Artisan Hut

Our producer Artisan Hut is another producer with stunning weaving skills, especially traditional Ikat weaving. It’s such a time-consuming process that many brands only imitate the finish in prints, but our Creative Director Tracy Mulligan loves to incorporate this traditional craft in her designs, such as our Irma Ikat Top.

We love the birthday card they made for us – you may recognise some of the fabrics in the photos!

A birthday message from our producer to us, with pictures of the fabrics they make and the people who work there

Bombolulu

Last but not least, we wanted to share the message we received from Bombolulu. The Swahili proverb they shared towards the end struck a real chord, because it truly sums up what People Tree has been working towards these last 30 years.

Picture of a jewellery maker at Bombolulu in Kenya holding up a brass bangle

“Forever persist, a rope cuts stone”

Swahili Proverb

Bombolulu Workshops was started in 1969 with the central mission of economically and socially empowering persons with different abilities through trade in handicraft production. Partnerships with organizations like People Tree for the past 20 years has ensured that we are able to partly realize our mission in addition to building our capacity especially in product development, ethical trading practices and responsible production practices.

This partnership has steadily grown from annual orders of $3,000.00 to $50,000.00. These figures constitute 40% of our annual sales. People Tree therefore plays a central role in the sustainability of our project, with consistent and continuous orders despite the global economic challenges. We strongly believe that the human being is the most important resource in any organization. With People Tree’s partnership, we have been guaranteed of work for at least 9 months throughout each year. This means that our artisans are able to cater for their most basic needs like food, clothing, education and shelter.

As the Kenyan Swahili saying goes – “daima bidii, Kamba kukata jiwe” – People Tree “forever persist, a rope cuts stone”. Thank you People Tree for being part of our past, present and future family.

Marcia and Shadrack, Bombolulu Workshops