GOEX Apparel is a nonprofit apparel enterprise located in the heart of Kansas City. As Fair Trade Federation members we seek to do better in everything we do. We use a simple tee to connect the customer and the maker. Our customers sustain fair wage jobs that liberate workers from poverty and empower them in their families and communities. After costs to sustainably produce premium eco-friendly apparel and provide fair wage jobs, all GOEX profit – every bit of it – goes to fund projects set in motion by The Global Orphan Project, a nonprofit dedicated to orphan prevention and the strengthening of local communities.
The story of GOEX Apparel began in 2010 in Gulu, Uganda with a woman named Lucy. Lucy had a sewing center, but no work. Our parent organization, The Global Orphan Project, sought to help by partnering with her on sewing school uniforms for children in her community. This work gave Lucy dignity, provided for her family, and changed their stories from charity to empowerment. This event signaled an epiphany – the best way to keep families together and kids with their parents where they belong is to provide strong jobs that create opportunities. Thus, GOEX Apparel received its calling.
The experience in Uganda would later bring us to Haiti. Historical French colonial exploitation, decades of ineffective government, and natural disasters are just a few contributing challenges in Haiti. With more than two-thirds of adults lacking formal jobs, many cannot afford to care for their children, let alone pay the required fees for education. Less than 50% of children in Haiti attend school. In spite of economic struggles, hope and resiliency are strong among Haiti’s people.
The Global Orphan Project’s local partners provide family-style, culturally relevant care and education for orphaned and vulnerable children at 14 sites across Haiti. Haiti is also home to the Transition Academy, a 2-year vocational-technical school for young adults who have aged out of orphan care, and LIFE S.A.. Managed by Ariane Manuel, LIFE S. A. is a boutique apparel factory located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Daily wages at LIFE S.A. are 65% higher than the sector minimum. “We’re basically breaking all of the rules in [the fashion] industry,” says Ariane. “Not only do we take pride in the garments that we produce but we invest in the well-being of our employees. We are a family here. Everything we do we do with pride and with a lot of talent. The slogan ‘Feel good. Do good.’ really means something important. I think anybody would feel good to make a difference and to be a part of what we’re trying to do.”
After garments are manufactured, GOEX styles are then shipped to our home office and warehouse in Kansas City where our mission continues. Here we provide apparel for retail stores, businesses, and organizations while providing fair wage jobs that empower our local community. No matter where GOEX is, our mission is clear. We exist to create and sustain fair wage jobs that empower employees to care for their families – to feel good and do good.
This blog was written by GOEX