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SET Boutique supports sustainable wool products
Jan '11
While Lindsay Sullivan, owner of SET Boutique was working in Kathmandu, Nepal she learned a lot about the benefits of making wool sweaters. SET Boutique is a fair trade website devoted to ethical fashion. The company's mission is primarily focused on social causes such as ending exploitation and sweatshop labor, but Sullivan is learning many ways to incorporate environmental causes as well.

Take for example, the new collection of fair trade sweaters that were produced in Nepal. The vendor was a perfect fit for SET Boutique because they are a non-profit organization that supports people from an uneducated and low caste background. The vocational school provides valuable training, gives the graduates an opportunity to start a career in knitting, carpet weaving, or carpentry, and also provides free primary schooling for their children. Sullivan visited the producers to learn more about the products they made and how fair trade practices such as excellent pay and benefits were improving their lives.

“The most incredible thing I saw was the wool fiber being hand spun into yarns. At my previous jobs at large retailers everything is machine operated. The women take real pride in their work here”, says Sullivan. This opportunity would not be available for these women if the sweaters were made with synthetic yarns such as acrylic. Synthetic yarns are also harmful to the environment since they are typically derived from petroleum.

Wool is a sustainable fiber since it is a renewable source, and it also gives small producer groups the chance to gain income from their craft. A second way that Sullivan was able to reduce the sweaters' environmental impact was to avoid dyes. The natural color of the wool yielded one ivory shade, and one charcoal shade. These two colors were perfect neutral shades, and could even be combined for one of the striped designs. This saved the vendor from using water for dye baths, which has to be purchased multiple times a week. It also eliminated the need for dyes and chemicals which is beneficial to the community.

The fair trade and eco-friendly sweaters are available at SETboutique.com. Sullivan was also introduced to new vendors in the Kathmandu area, and she is currently developing exclusive women's wear for Summer and Fall 2011. The collection is posted as a project on Kickstarter, a creative fundraising site until April 2nd.

SET Boutique

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