Fair Trade Brand of the Month: Maven Women by Rebecca Ballard
Rebecca Ballard launched Maven Women after a decade of career in law, non-profit management, social entrepreneurship and advocacy. Along her career path she always had the vision of creating a clothing line that was fair trade in every step of production. Maven Women is now the first fair trade brand creating work-appropriate attire, a more formal wear with the option for layering, to be dressed up or down adjusting beautifully to one’s work and social calendar.
The brand went through meticulous planning in its production process to make sure their final product is not only beautiful and comfortable, but also inline with fair trade ethos whenever possible. Rebecca made sure Maven Women uses garment that is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard. Their first collection is dyed and sewn in Jaipur, India, in a factory which Rebecca herself visited to ensure they met the standard of fair trade. Scrap and fabric left over from their production is donated to Meher Road Foundation, a non-profit group promoting women’s micro-entrepreneurship and artisan development in the slums of Jaipur.
“We aim to partner with socially conscious partners at every step. For example, Elisha Chan, who runs Elisha C. and is the Executive Director of Fair Trade LA, manages our fulfillment and other logistics aspects of Maven Women. We also use packaging that is recycled and made in America in our shipments.” Rebecca said.
Answering how she defines “Fair Trade”, Rebecca explained that because of her law background she follows the definitions of the 10 Principles of Fair Trade , which also align with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. “With that said, in practice I use a more expansive and relational definition which also covers domestic “fair trade” products and not just those that are created abroad. I define fair trade jobs as those which make your life better as well as the lives of your family members and others in your community. Paying a living wage is certainly a key component, however it’s not the only one; if a workplace is unsafe and you suffer harassment and abuse that doesn’t cut it event if the wages are there.”
Rebecca grew up going to a United Methodist Church where she learned about social justice issues from a very young age. She sees fashion as an industry with tremendous potential to do harm and to do good. Fair trade fashion, is an important component of doing good. “It has the potential to be one of the great success stories of the next decade if we decide to work together to create the change we seek.”
Maven Women’s website is a place of both beauty and inspiration. Browse through the site, you’ll find not only their shop but also an informative list of other places to shop fair trade. The site also generously shares knowledge of the fair trade movement and inspiring stories in the movement. As for Rebecca's personal favorite blog to read, she loves Bead and Reel’s and anything by its founder Sica Schmitz.
Rebecca is excited that the Fair Trade movement is now able to give chic options in every product category. To her it's an honor that Maven Women is able to be an option in the world of fair trade fashion, allowing women to dress in their perfect signature style without giving up fair trade values. In an industry where fashion can be cruel and consuming, Maven Women by Rebecca Ballard is aiming to place it back into fashion at its best: a transformative, elevating, and inspiring outlet. A place which can preserve cultural heritage and be a form of self-expression and beauty.