Beauty, creativity, and purpose.
The potential of the three combined is what first attracted Alexice To to create My Fair Label, an organic and fair trade fashion brand working with artisans from Burkina Faso and Mali.
Equipped with an eye for style and a degree in International Development and Social Change, as well as a graduate degree in Management and Sustainable Development, Alexice has all the right tools to live out her dreams of creating positive impact. “I created My Fair Label because I wanted to use fashion as a tool to help women in my home country, Burkina Faso, build a better life,” she explains. “I may not have a formal background in fashion design, but as a Burkinabé, I’m accustomed to buying fabrics and working with tailors to create my own clothing. This is common place here.”
Alexice continues, “I wanted to develop a product that would have a broad impact – the clothing business is ideal in this regard. In both Burkina Faso and Mali, cotton is a major export crop whose transformation still broadly remains at the artisanal level. Since cotton goes through many transformative stages before it is turned into a clothing item, from picking to weaving, printing, dyeing and sewing, each product stage provides an opportunity to further our fair trade, ethical mission.”
Having only launched in 2012, Alexice is already seeing the enormous potential that the My Fair Label business model has to lift people out of poverty and provide them the means of a better future for themselves and their families through a sustainable livelihood. Given the current size of the company – just Alexice, in collaboration with a women’s cooperative which employs 10 -- the economic impact is relatively small at the moment. The potential however, is far greater.
“Throughout this journey, I’ve seen immense potential in the artisan sector here and it inspires me to want to showcase it in the US and push to grow the business.”
With ambitious growth comes many obstacles, including quality standards and costs to run a socially responsible business. “The production costs do add up and can be tricky to manage. Ultimately, the price reflects the REAL cost of an item if the ethical standard is maintained throughout the entire product chain. But not everyone can afford to pay $200 for a shirt, so finding a balance requires you to make sacrifices that won’t hurt your ability to continue doing business, won’t drain your customers’ wallets, and – most important of all – won’t penalize your producers who are at the core of your company’s mission.” But luckily for us, Alexice is up for the challenge.
As she looks toward the future in finding that optimal balance for her business, Alexice will continue to design pieces that are inspired by her own personal style of comfort, elegance, and uniqueness. Keep your eyes peeled for the new Spring-Summer collection featuring hand-woven fabrics in a variety of eye-popping colors!