First you have to understand, that my label BERENIK is a very small brand, you cant compare it to bigger companies, so the way I work is very different than from what you generally understand with “made in China”.
I have been living in Shanghai several years, because of the job of my husband. Living there gave me great insight into the situation and made it possible to start working with a small workshop first, lead by some french people. After a few months I made new friends, from Germany, who wanted to open a small factory, exactly what I needed. Because we produce only small quantities it was never even an option or my goal to work with the “big” Chinese factories.
We produce from 3 to maximum 100 pieces per style, this is more something for sampling rooms or very small workshops or factories! This is also why our products cost more than from the big retailers. The process of developing a style from scratch to have it ready to sell is enormously time and cost consuming. On top of that come the production costs for small quantities, but everything in the process is more expensive if it’s for low instead of big quantity, like fabric sourcing, printing, shooting and marketing in general up to logistics, storage and shipping.
As a group of friends we started this small factory, I was their first client and spent months and months working there, building it up, eating with the seamstresses every day, keep working, while the went home:-)
I got to know the very strict laws and requirements that are in place in China. It is far more restricted and controlled in favour of the workers than many people think. The problems in my opinion is more in the big factories, where corruption becomes a problem and the controls don’t take place anymore.
In the many years working in this field, collecting many experiences, stories and researches, I came to believe that it is very difficult to judge by country wether a work situation is sustainable or not.
For example it is very dangerous to believe, that solely because something is produced in Europe or US or so that this means that work conditions are “fair”. There are many many underpaid workers in factories all over Europe but no-one even cares, because it is “made in Europe”….
I could at any time stand behind the production process, I looked people in the eyes for weeks and months, shared the food, yes payed the food. I was proud of giving about 30 Chinese women and men work, I am not ashamed of it.
Nevertheless I stopped producing in China about 1.5 years ago, more because I didn’t want to travel there so often anymore, it took a too big toll on my personal health…
The main goal is now to start producing small limited editions in my new studio in Spain and start producing with small factories in Portugal which is very close to where I live and work now.
TREE PLANTING PROGRAM
Since March 2019 year I donate 10% of ALL OUR SALES to onetreeplanted.org. They plant with each dollar one tree.
Meaning that if you buy something for 100 - we plant 10 trees for this.
I believe that that is a lot and it gives me a lot of motivation that every sale we make is giving back something to the earth.
You can read about this program and my philosophy on the website
I am sorry that you were so disappointed, but I am very confident to say that the cardigan you bought is many times more sustainable than the phone or computer you bought to send the message with:-) it's a complicated world, not everything is so easy as it seams… For us small brands it is incredibly difficult to survive, people want sustainability, but they don't necessarily want to pay more. For example no-one ever asks how much we designer earn… I can tell you it's far below minimum wages with tremendous amounts of overtime…..
I don’t think many companies donate 10% of their turnovers to anything charitable or for making the world a little bit better. I don’t say there is no room for improvement, but I think I do really the best I can until now!
I hope you understand my point and can now fully enjoy the cardigan:-)