Over 12 years ago, Vanessa and I (Cara) were living in California and still in college, and we had a vision of creating a fashion company that empowered people through fair jobs. At the time, we imagined starting the company in a developing country, where it was extremely difficult for people to find jobs and they were at risk of being exploited. We wanted to offer work that gave hope and self-sufficiency to people in need, through an apparel business. Eight years later, when we were starting VETTA, we almost opened our own factory in South Africa. In fact we did a research trip for that purpose, but the logistics proved too complicated at the time. Vanessa did end up opening a factory in South Africa (where she now lives), and she and her husband produce apparel and accessories for their non-profit Aleph.
When we launched VETTA in 2016, we decided to start by producing in the U.S., where we were confident in the quality and could avoid the complications of importing. Since then we've built strong relationships with our factories in the U.S. who have become like family, and we plan to continue working with them for years to come. But as we grow, we have more work to give to more factories, and I've felt a tug to fulfill the vision of providing jobs in developing countries as well. We had a collection that involved lace (not an expertise of U.S. factories), so it was a great time to seek out a factory in India, where they specialize in lace and embroidery.
India has a special place in my heart, because it was the first country I visited outside of North America, when I was just 19 years old. I skipped a semester of college and lived with a family in the slums outside of Chennai. I fell in love with the people, the colors, the food, the spices - and I knew one day I would return.
This January I did a research trip to India, and visited with a factory we had been talking with, to see if they could be a potential partner factory for the more intricate lace collection we were planning. I met with the owner and his family, talked with the workers, and spent some time touring the workspace. The factory is family-owned (for two generations) and they are SA8000 certified, which means they get audited regularly for fair treatment of workers. They must meet strict standards of safe working conditions, living wages, and human rights. They’re one of the only factories I talked to that does not outsource anything but does everything in-house (physically on their property), and they have an amazing quality control process. They made samples of the pieces I had designed, and they turned out beautifully. We decided to partner with them for our upcoming Romantic Capsule, which is launching in June, and we’re so excited to be working with such talented people!
We're planning to visit the India factory again soon, and we also may be working with a new scarf factory in the same area. Our dream is for VETTA to be a force for good around the world, bringing high quality sustainable garments to our customers while empowering people through fair jobs. When we launched VETTA on Kickstarter years ago, we explained:
“It's one of our passions to support companies that treat their employees with dignity and respect, and provide job opportunities in the U.S. and abroad.”
That still rings true today, and we’re excited to be getting to the “abroad” part of our mission. We hope you love the beautiful garments of the Summer ‘19 Romantic Capsule coming out this month, made with care by the garment workers in our India partner factory. We're thankful for them, and grateful that you're with us on this journey!