A huge thanks to Feelgoodz’ Kyle Berner for contributing to this post!
It’s 9:30am in Surat Thani province, Thailand. In the States, most Americans are just getting started with their workday. Coffee brewing, eggs cooking, the full nine. Here in Thailand, however, the rubber farmers are wrapping up their workday.
You see, from 3am-6am, rubber farmers will “tap” rubber from a tree because of the cooler climate and the limited amount of mosquitoes. From 6am-9am, the farmers will collect the rubber from their day’s work and carry it in big blue bins to the rubber processing plant for payment.
Upon arrival to the processing plant, I witnessed a chart on the wall in Thai writing. I curiously asked about the writing, and I was told that this was the fair market rate that the rubber was trading at on that particular day. When asked if they would be paid this wage, there was a discomfort among the farmers. Turns out, the farmers rarely get paid the fair market wage because of a lack of access to direct markets. As a result, they are often forced to accept a discount. If repeated, this type of business model can force a cycle of poverty amongst this province.
Without access to fair wages, how can they sustain themselves?
I asked them a simple question. “What do you need?” The resounding answer was the same. “Just pay us fairly for our work, and we’ll take care of ourselves.”
From that moment on, I vowed to find a way to create direct market access for not only the rubber farmers in Surat Thani province, but any-and-all farmers, weavers, or artisans we would work with as Feelgoodz grows.
The above story reflects our conscious business model of creating sustainable wages through fair, reliable, consistent work. It is that sense of empowerment that Feelgoodz was born under, and it is that same sense of empowerment that led to our new partnership with Whole Planet Foundation for Spring/Summer 2013.
This season, Feelgoodz is partnering with Whole Planet Foundation to bring you a unique footwear product sourced from the Tien Phuoc Cinnamon Farming province of Vietnam: the CINNAFLOPZ. Aromatic, fresh, and fun, the CINNAFLOPZ are made with comfortable, all-natural rubber, natural linen, and are infused with a Saigon Cinnamon powder packet in the lining of the footbed. Keepin’ your feet fresh and comfy, this product is perfect for the Whole Foods Market customer.
From now through May 15th, 2013, any purchase of the CINNAFLOPZ directly supports poverty alleviation through microlending programs and cinnamon farm projects in Vietnam.
Your support makes a difference. Let’s make that difference together.
Kyle Berner – Founder of Feelgoodz