Changing lives one shirt at a time.
This week I want to revisit Alta Gracia, the factory in the Dominican Republic (DR) that pays its workers a “living wage” as opposed to the “minimum wage”. So what does this mean? Workers at Alta Gracia earn $2.83 per hour compared to the minimum wage of $0.85 per hour in the DR. This is the brainchild of Joseph Bozich, the C.E.O. of Knights Apparel in Spartansburg, S.C. According to Mr. Bozich, “We’re hoping to prove that doing good can be good business, that they’re not mutually exclusive.”
The New York Times wrote an article in July 2010 calling Alta Gracia a “high-minded experiment”. While the factory has been open now for 18 months and their products are sold in 400 colleges and universities in the United States and now Manchester, England, all is not as bright as these numbers imply. The factory is only working at a 40% capacity and is being kept afloat by the other product lines of Knight’s Apparel.
Georgetown University Professor Dr. John Kline and fellow professor Dr. Edward Soule have been researching the Alta Gracia business model. The results of their research, “Alta Gracia: Work with a Salario Digno” concludes that at least 40 schools need to devote six or seven percent of their floor space to Alta Gracia products to improve the capacity at the Alta Gracia factory.
“We’re a long way from being where we want to be,” Bozich said. “If I had one request, it would be, help us spread the word.”
Please, please, please get behind this brand and help me spread the word. If you have been waiting for the right story to Like or repost, this is the one. Help me get the word out about this “high-minded experiment” before it it too late. Professors Kline and Soule conclude that the next 18 months are critical to Alta Gracia’s survival. We must show Mr. Bozich that his vision is not just admirable but truly the future of ethical business manufacturing.
Let me know what you think. Better yet, share this with your network and let’s all get behind Alta Gracia. We can all change lives one t-shirt, sweatshirt or hoodie at a time.
Fairwear until next time…