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A pioneer in fair trade fashion, Carry Somers established Pachacuti in 1992 after completing an MA in Native American Studies. On a research trip to Ecuador she was shocked by the inequitable trading patterns where intermediaries made all the profits. On returning to the UK she read Anita Roddick’s autobiography and decided that, if one woman could have such a positive impact on the beauty industry, there was nothing to stop her doing the same for the fashion industry. Carry returned to Ecuador and gave two co-operatives the financial resources to buy raw materials in bulk and, with no background in design, produced a series of knitwear patterns which proved so popular that they sold out in six weeks. Seeing the tangible difference this made to the producers’ livelihoods encouraged her to give up her PhD and concentrate on improving the lives of more producer groups in the Andean region.
Carry experienced an initial setback six months into the business when an armed robber in Ecuador stole a large amount of cash from a subtantial loan destined for purchasing her next collection, together with all of her business profits to date. However, she was determined to persevere and lived in a van in order to save money to pay back the loan whilst continuing to support her producers.
Nineteen years later, Pachacuti is a rapidly growing business with a shop in Ashbourne, mail order department and a wholesale business which supplies 300 retailers around the world and creates Private Label collections for well-known designer brands. To read Carry's full story from a personal viewpoint, please see her blog post The Accidental Mumpreneur
Pachacuti is the first Fair Trade organisation to be audited against the Sustainable Fair Trade Management System, the new World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) certification standard. The pilot label was launched in December 2009 and Pachacuti became the first company in the world to be able to put ‘Certified Fair Trade’ on all of our product range. This provides a guarantee that Pachacuti has a proven set of practices, procedures and processes which demonstrate social, economic and environmental responsibility.
As a Fair Trade pioneer, it is important for us not to become complacent and to continue to push the boundaries as there is still much to be done in terms of improving accountability within the fashion industry.
No sooner had we completed our pilot and been certified by WFTO, we agreed to participate in the EU Geo Fair Trade project, the only non-food organisation among the pilot groups around the world. Transparency and traceability are urgently required throughout the global fashion supply chain and this pilot enables Pachacuti to produce real, tangible data about the measurable impact we are having on our producers.
Here at Pachacuti we love to tell you the stories behind our producer groups, but it essential to provide the evidence to back up what we say. As part of the Geo Fair Trade project, we are gathering over 100 different social, economic and environmental indicators to monitor the annual progress of our principal association of hat weavers.
As a result, at the end of the 3 year pilot we will be able to demonstrate the the tangible difference which your Fair Trade purchasing is making to the income, health, training and environmental practices of both the growers of the carludovica palmata on the coast of Ecuador and the weavers of our Panama hats high in the Andes.
See our Fair Trade page for more information on our certification.
19 Dig Street
U.K. DE6 1GF
fax: +44 (0) 1335 300485
Shop Opening Hours
Monday: 10am - 5pm
Tuesday 10am - 5pm
Wednesday: 10am - 5pm
Thursday: 10am - 5pm
Friday: 10am - 5pm
Saturday: 10am - 5pm