The idea for Tribe Alive took root when founder Carly Burson and her husband finalized the adoption of their daughter, Elie. As Carly spent time in Ethiopia, she met many mothers who did not have the means to support their children.
Carly wanted to find a way to honor Elie’s birth mother and others like her while addressing the core issue of global child relinquishment — namely, the economic insecurity facing women in the developing world.
Tribe Alive became a platform in which to alleviate poverty and give women around the world the opportunity to raise their children and determine their futures through economic empowerment.
Built By Women
Our future is female. We are proud to support women artisans in five countries — Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, India and the United States.
Today, 85 percent of the world’s garment workers are women. Yet they are drastically underpaid, overworked and trapped in a cycle of poverty.
Tribe Alive offers a hopeful alternative, employing and empowering women around the world. This is why we exist, and it drives everything we do. And while we genuinely love to support other women, we also know from research and experience that women are the key to eradicating global poverty.
Women comprise more than three-quarters of our workforce, and the effect is exponential. When women are empowered to earn an income, they reinvest 90 percent of that income back into health, education, food, children and their communities, compared to 30 percent for their male counterparts.
Consider this. When Tribe Alive started, only 35 percent of our artisans’ children regularly attended school. Four years later, that number has soared to nearly 90 percent. What changed? We invested in women, and they invested in the future.
Safe & Meaningful Work Environments
No one should fear going to work.
Tribe Alive believes artisans should have access to safe, healthy working environments free of harassment, discrimination and child labor. We partner with groups that are committed to providing inspiring and well-lit studios where our artisans can create their beautiful work.
Much of the fashion industry employs grueling 15- to 16-hour workdays. At Tribe Alive, our artisans work 6 to 8 hours a day, with many who live in remote, rural areas working from home.
Every year, we spend time on the ground in each studio and country where our products are made to ensure the highest standards of safety and fair, empowering treatment for all makers are being upheld.
We invest in the people behind our products. Our artisans are paid living wages, and we pay them promptly, knowing that families rely on this income to meet immediate needs.
In countries where we operate, a living wage is 2 to 3 times more than the minimum wage. A living wage means our employees can pay for housing and food, childcare and health care. It means our artisans can support themselves and their families. A living wage means dignity and opportunity.
Designed to Last
Fast fashion comes with a high price. An astounding 92 million tons of clothes are dumped in landfills around the world each year. On average, people keep fast-fashion apparel for only 35 days before tossing them. That is unacceptable.
This is why Tribe Alive believes in slow fashion and meaningful consumption. From apparel to accessories, we design timeless pieces in classic silhouettes and high quality materials. Years from now, our clothes should live in your closet, not a landfill.
For too long, the fashion industry has been one of the world’s leading polluters and consumers of water.
At Tribe Alive, sustainability is at the core of our mission. Our manufacturing process is free of toxic chemicals and dyes. We never use synthetic fibers, which are made from plastic and do not biodegrade even in landfills.
Nearly all of our products are made with upcycled or organic materials, such as cotton and linen, and all of our packaging is created using upcycled materials that otherwise would have ended up in landfills. By 2020, we plan to eliminate plastics entirely.
We use responsibly sourced leather from tanneries committed to the ethical treatment of animals. This means no animal is ever killed for its hides. Rather, our leather comes from animals that have died naturally or are a byproduct of the meat industry. Each piece of our Indian leather collection is made entirely by hand, with meticulous attention to detail and quality.
Our practices have helped us reduce our carbon emissions, lessen water and energy use and vastly minimize the consumption of new raw materials.
Beautiful, sustainable apparel should be accessible to everyone.
Tribe Alive works closely with our artisans to offer our products directly to consumers, cutting out middlemen and excessive mark-ups. In fact, Tribe Alive takes only half of the mark-up of its competitors, ensuring our customers receive the best possible value.
Tribe Alive is a social enterprise, combining business and social justice. We measure success by the positive social and economic impact on our artisans and their communities. Our customers’ purchases have a positive impact on the artisans’ lives. We collaborate closely with smaller artisan groups — often the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups — to extend the distribution of their products to reach more customers. We are committed to identifying and partnering with artisan groups with limited access to markets due to their remote locations, small-scale technical support or lack of technical support.
We work with artisan groups that promote access to equitable employment and other opportunities for marginalized communities, and we expect them to protect and uphold the human rights of artisans, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, age, ability or disability, or any markers of identity. We are committed to raising awareness about human rights and social justice issues through our work.