In 2022 we produced 9541 items. We project producing approximately 6000 pieces in 2023. It important for us not to contribute to the overproduction of new goods.
We buy 40% of our fabric locally here in Ghana and the rest we import from China and India. In 2021 we were able to transition to shipping all of our fabrics to Ghana by sea instead of air, reducing that carbon footprint by an estimated whopping 98%. All our dyeing and sewing is done here in Ghana by small scale producers who we contract with directly. We have strong relationships with our vendors and during production we are in the factories for quality control weekly. Currently all our production vendor facilities are Ghanaian-owned.
Currently, imported Lenzing Ecovero rayon is 42% of our fabric, locally purchased conventional cotton is 30%, locally purchased deadstock linen is 10%, imported certified fair trade cotton is 5%, imported cotton spandex jersey is 2%, and imported cotton denim 1%. All of our product pages list the fibers used in each product.
Our dyer partners currently source their dyes from the local market. We are in the R+D phase of finding a more transparent source for our dye chemicals that is OEKO-TEX certified. We plan to transition to 100% OEKO-TEX certified dyes and/or natural dyes in 2024. We are also in R+D towards adding local botanical dyes and bio-pigments to our processes, as well as waste water recycling. We have identified our hand dye processes as a crucial area for improvement, and it is a major focus for change for us.
We source our zippers from YKK South Africa, and our buttons are plastic from China. We are currently in talks with a source for local recycled plastic buttons, but no dates available yet for that transition.
ANIMAL / NATURAL PRODUCTS
We have phased out our use of shell buttons. The logo patches on our large Partare Totes are made of leather, and aside from that our only non-vegan material is silk fabric, which is in less than 2% of our designs. We use only fabrics made from natural fibers, aside from the spandex in our 2% spandex stretch denim and in our 5% spandex cotton jersey.
99% of our garment packing bags and shipping bags are 100% home compostable. We currently source them from https://www.invisible-company.com/.
We are passionate about diverting textile waste and have quite a few programs around reducing and reusing our offcuts. To start with we focus on small (usually under 100 pcs) production runs to minimize stock sitting around. We also slowly hand cut and dye per garment, which decreases cutting waste and fabric damages. We can work around any flaws in our yardage this way.
What offcuts/scraps we do generate are sorted by size and fabrication and then enter several different streams. Some are made into limited run patchwork garments that we sell. Some are made into the branded tote bags that showroom purchases come in. We also use our scraps for our baby clothes, our office curtains, upholstery, and cloth napkins. Most of our artist collaborations utilize our cache of scraps, and we also send offcuts out to children’s art programs. We make our scraps freely available at our office for team members or friends to pull from for personal sewing projects. We have a program to send our offcuts to quilters and home sewers who request them. Tiny pieces go to local furniture makers to stuff cushions. We almost never throw fabric away.
Our Reruns Buyback Program in Vancouver BC is a social initiative that operates twice yearly, with a cohort of 3 women for each term. The aim of the program is to provide job skills and training to women in recovery who live in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, while simultaneously closing the loop on our own textile waste. Reruns is a partnership between the Osei-Duro and the Union Gospel Mission and aims to provide a stepping stone in the continuum of employment, building on UGM’s social enterprise sewing program's outstanding success. The program runs for 13 weeks, giving us time to receive old clothing from customers (and damages from production), assign returners a store credit, assess the garments, potentially repair or alter, photo, list online, and have a sale of the clothes. Late 2023 will be the fifth Reruns program.
WAGES AND BENEFITS
At Osei-Duro we pride ourselves on taking full time pay for a four-day work week. We enjoy 3 weeks annual paid leave, 90 days full pay maternity leave, two weeks full pay paternity leave, full health insurance coverage, pensions, and other statutory benefits. 72% of us are women, and likewise 72% of our managers are women. Everyone on our team of 19 in Ghana makes at least 50% more than the monthly living wage (as calculated by the GLWC https://www.globallivingwage.org/living-wage-benchmarks/ghana/). We run constant trainings in-house to improve our own knowledge and skills, from Illustrator classes to fire safety training. We rarely accept interns, but when we do, they are always paid. We are happy to say we were in a position to provide everyone job security throughout COVID closures.
We work with a wide variety of small-scale artisans. Our dyeing and sewing partners range in size from units of 2 people to approximately 100. Most are groups of between 5 and 15 workers. We are very hands-on in our production, and our production team visits our contractors weekly to ensure quality and consistency, as well as a safe and healthy workplace. Dialogue around problem-solving and improvements is constant. Our contractors set their prices per garment to us, and we review prices at least once a year to adjust for Ghana’s inflation rates. In 2023 we have begun detailed conversations with our producers to create a set of labor expectations that works at their scale. We plan to provide financial and logistical support for identified improvements as needed. These discussions are positioning us to implement a formal code of conduct in 2024.