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Thank You Thursday: Fashionably Philanthropic

In our Thank You Thursday blog posts we normally feature small charities or social enterprises, or sometimes stories about someone doing good in the world. Today we are looking at a business with profits and purpose.

Wandering though one of Australia’s local village markets recently I stumbled upon a stall selling uniquely designed clothing. The more I asked about the clothing and how it came about the more impressed I was with the company that had produced the items. Tonle is a clothing company situated in Cambodia doing their bit for the environment and for the human rights of their staff which we happen to think is pretty cool.

Based in Phnom Penh, where normally you might associate sweat shops and child labour, Boston-born Rachel Faller was determined that fashion does not have to be this way.  Founding Tonle in late 2013, it is Cambodia’s only zero waste fair fashion label where the employees are paid above award wage with good benefits, extensive training and opportunities to move up into management.

Rachel is working towards breaking down the barriers between the people who make the clothes and the people who wear them. Instead of hiding the staff she showcases them through profiles on the company website and each individually created garment has the name of the person who made it with love for you. The management and staff collaborate with others within the local area to connect and help other businesses also. They try to get whatever they need locally so as they can help the community they are immersed in.

Using 90% recycled materials and remnant fabrics which would normally turn into land fill, their products are made by small teams of sewers, printers, dyers and weavers earning good wages and their workmates have become a second family.  Tonle are currently recycling 10,000 kilograms of fabric per year, preventing 70,000 kilograms of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere, preventing 200 kilograms of pesticides from entering waterways and saving 46 million gallons of water.

Have a watch of this video about Tonle and why Rachel started it:

Unlike most of the fast-fix, money hungry design labels which contribute to pollution and the unethical practice of child labour, Tonle is a company that is interested in a safe working environment, a cleaner environment and a connection to community both locally and globally. They truly are a philanthropic-minded fashion label – showing their love of man-kind is just as important (if not more important) than their profits.

So, what can you do, just one person in seven billion on our planet, about such a massive problem? Think before you buy! Educate yourself about the issues surrounding the fashion industry. Support brands that care about the environment and the people behind your clothes as much as you do. Even large retailers have to listen to customer preferences, and each dollar spent is a vote cast.

This Thank You Thursday we say ‘love your work’ to Rachel and the team at Tonle. We hope you grow bigger and stronger and become a well-known example for other companies to follow your lead.

Keep Swimming,

Miss Fish Biz

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