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Do you realize how much power you have as a consumer? I’m serious. There’s that famous quote that I use all the time which is “You vote every single day by the way you spend your money.” and over the last couple of years, I’ve found that this is truer than ever… your beliefs drive how you purchase goods and services and companies that don’t adhere to your personal values or beliefs, more often than not, don’t get your money. And money talks. But… that doesn’t mean that you just buy a product SIMPLY because you believe in the values behind it… there’s a whole lot more to it and it’s something that my guest today has spent nearly 20 years working to study…
Llenay’s Ferretti’s success as a fashion designer gave her a robust knowledge of international sourcing as well as access to iconic industry mentors. It also paved the way for her future in fair-trade.
Fair-trade found Llenay after she met women basket weavers on a 2001 volunteer trip to Uganda with 10,000 Villages.
Llenay’s skills in pattern, color, and textile helped the women reimagine their beautiful patterns for capturing market.
After working as the Executive Director for 10,000 Villages, Llenay started her own organization in 2007 called Bahavana World Project. Bahavana World Project brings technical skills and services to women’s organizations in the developing world.
In 2016, Llenay joined the 10,000 Villages board and is currently the acting CEO while the organization searches for a permanent CEO.
When people have access to growth and fairly paid work, their lives can change significantly by giving them the tools to sustain themselves.
Consumers have the power to shape the market in the ways they chose to invest their dollars. This is as true in the fashion industry as it is in fair-trade, and purchasing decisions affect everyone in the global community.
These days, consumers are much more aware of the impact they have on the global community with conscious and ethical participation in fair-trade purchases.
Consumers who are not involved in fair-trade purchases sometimes ask: “Isn’t that job better than no job?” This idea does not apply to vulnerable communities working in unsafe conditions for unfair wages. Working for fair wages eliminates the vulnerability of being stuck in a cycle of exploitation.
Control should be in the hands of both the maker and the buyer. 10,000 Villages gives interest advances and pays artists in full for products, creating a risk-free financial environment where artists don’t have to wait an unreasonable amount of time to be paid.
All businesses need to be transparent, and consumers should know how workers are treated and how they are paid.
The April 24th, 2013 Rana Plaza Complex Disaster in Bangladesh started a global demand for transparency and for workers to be treated with dignity and respect.A campaign was started by the Fashion Revolution organization that asked companies “Who made my clothes?” instead of “Where were my clothes made?”
10,000 Villages has used a model of transparency from day one. Having the artisan tell their stories for 70 years has built sustainability and trust with both artisans and consumers.
The addition of fair-trade practices by large fashion brands like J.Crew, Athleta (Gap), Target, etc., has created more accountability in the industry: In the past, companies would simply pass off stories of artisans as checking the fair-trade box, but if it’s not well made, on trend, and functional, it’s just creates a one-time pity purchase.
Fair-trade organizations work toward proving that women are being educated, children are going to school, people’s medical needs are being fulfilled, housing is available, and college education is accessible. Transparency should reveal an equal respect in a trading relationship, and build a long-term commitment between makers and markets.
The mission of 10,000 Villages is to link makers to markets through fair-trade, sustainable, long-term relationships. A personal connection in every step of the transaction is key.
The voice of the consumer matters; you actually can shop your values!
10,000 Villages refreshed their brand by inviting the consumer into maker stories even more.Now the goal is to establish a value chain that communicates everything from maker to the market, encouraging the consumer to join the movement.
Industries need to base their practices on consumer needs in order to keep up with a changing market.
Women around the world want the same things for their children and their communities. Llenay’s inspiration moving forward is to be able to demonstrate her values not only through her career, but also as a consumer.
As the founder and CEO of Bhavana World Project, since 2007, Llenay has worked to bridge the gap between fair trade artisans and U.S. companies to create successful and sustainable market access through partnerships within the public and private sectors. She has consulted for East Africa Trade Hub; focusing on business development and training programs for more than 200 fair trade groups in Asia and Africa.
Llenay has also been working with Ten Thousand Villages for many years, as the Executive Director, a national board member, and now, as the organization’s Acting CEO. As a global maker-to-market movement, Ten Thousand Villages connects artisans in developing countries with conscious shoppers in the U.S. offering ethically sourced gifts, home wares and fashion accessories crafted by hand. Every product generates sustainable income — and impact — for 20,000 makers in 30 countries who earn a fair, living wage in safe working conditions.
Through her leadership at Ten Thousand Villages and Bhavana World Project, Llenay has more than twenty years of experience in international business development, product design, business management, and fair trade standards and certification.
“I believe that by providing artisans with the tools to grow their businesses creates the driving force behind projects in developing economies. This has been the driving force behind the development of Ten Thousand Villages and Bhavana World Project. Working with each of the artisan groups that I have had the privilege to connect with has shown me that equality in development can affect both individual and collective transformation, which has direct impact on artisan processes, product outcomes, and their market sustainability.”
Llenay’s educational background includes an Executive Masters of International Service from American University in Washington D.C. and certifications in USAID Economic Evaluation Basics, USAID Monitoring and Evaluation, and USAID M&E Fundamentals from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. As well as a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, PA. And from 2015-2017, she served on the United States Trade Representative Advisory Committee on Africa, a Presidential appointment during the Obama Administration.