As fashion trends quickly rise and fall and an increase of ethically-made products are being sold, Global Gifts has discovered the world of fashion isn’t for the faint of heart. Staying on top of trends, reworking designs, sourcing materials, developing new products…it’s a process that must be mastered in order to survive in the fashion industry.
That is why a diverse group of individuals associated with Global Gifts is coming together to advise local artist, Barb Zech, about product designs to be made at Imani Workshops in Elderet Kenya. The trip was made possible by a financial grant from the Efroymson Foundation and matched resources and funds by Global Gifts. Barb will be travelling to Kenya in July to share new designs with Imani that Global Gift will in turn purchase and introduce in our stores and make available for sale online. Imani Workshops is a program associated with AMPATH which is connected with IU Medical School. Imani provides employment for women and some men who are HIV+ and in need of work and social development opportunities. Having steady employment with Imani helps artisans keep up their medical regimen associated with HIV AIDS and provides much needed income.
Although the fair trade mission plays an important role when it comes to capturing the hearts of consumers, the mission alone isn’t always enough to win sales. The products must stand out in design, function, quality, and price. Over the years, Imani Workshops has developed several products that meet this criteria. However, the need for more unique items is critical for the sustainability of the workshop and the livelihood of the artisans.
By examining sales history and taking a closer look at market trends, Global Gifts decided that it was time to reassess the vitality of the Imani collection and develop a plan to enhance the products. This venture would take the help of Barb Zech who has firsthand experience working with artisans at Imani Workshops, Sam Carpenter, the Global Gifts Executive Director with decades of fair trade knowledge and a team of five individuals whose combined backgrounds in design and retail would help to provide the kind of input and feedback it would take to improve products and bolster sales.
Over the course of several months the group met and reviewed numerous Imani items, analyzing design, style, color, and material. The group also examined each product’s life-cycle, dimensions, and ability to drive sales. Products must be on trend and yet have lasting appeal. Therefore, offering a proportionate mix of basic and trendy items is imperative for maximizing sales.
With a sketch pad and a plan Barb will head to Kenya this July! Once there she will work directly with Imani artisans to apply modifications to existing designs and create samples of new designs. Meanwhile excitement builds as the group back in the US awaits.
To be continued …
PHOTO: (from left to right) Kaylee Backstrom, Erika Williams, Barbara Zech, Jennifer Moncel, Becky Wigginton, and Stacey Cassell