Our Factory's Certifications
Posted on April 26 2019
We are so grateful for all the attention our feed has been getting for our Fashion Revolution campaign posts. Since many of you are new, let me introduce myself. I am Karen Hartman, co-founder of Astor + Orion and I made your jewelry too.
I love this campaign because it's the perfect opportunity to speak about our manufacturing process. As a former manufacturing agent who lived and worked in China, this is something I am very passionate about. In fact, our mission is to create modern, ethical jewelry that helps build a fair and beautiful future for us all.
It’s an ambitious goal but I think we are up for the task. In this post I’m going to tell you a little more about how certification works.
So first thing you need know, is that you even with the best intentions you can’t wave a magic wand and make a fair system that produces great quality. It’s a process that everyone needs to keep showing up for. The first step in making a great product is having a fair and safe workplace.
This is where things get complicated especially when you are doing business between countries. Who decides what is fair? Who decides what is safe? If the local laws don't forbid you from polluting the local environment, can you do it anyway? Is something being legal the same as being fair? These are tough questions and luckily there are some smart people working on ways to answer them.
There is an organization, that goes by ISO or International Organization for Standardization and they have been working to answer these questions for the last 70 years. At first they were primarily concerned with defining and maintaining quality but over time they have grown to include standards for worker safety and environmental protection. The standards are continually being developed, tested and updated for effectiveness of creating the intended real world results.
To achieve certification, a factory must develop the necessary systems and practices required to comply with the standard. They must then be regularly audited by a 3rd party to certify those standards have been met.
The factory we use is certified by a 3rd party for:
- ISO 9001 standard which covers quality and safety. The result is a great quality product and many local awards for going years without serious worker injury. Employee satisfaction is demonstrated by low turnover with the average employment time being over two years.
- ISO14001 which covers the factory's environmental management systems. The result is that the factory's air and water are stringently filtered to make sure the local environment is not polluted. In fact the factory's waste water is used to irrigate their two on site soccer fields.
It is also a member of SEDEX which is an ethical information exchange system for manufacturers.
Now if these amazing organizations exist, why don’t more brands insist that they work with certified factories? If we as a small brand can take the time to vet and visit our factories, why do these larger brands seem utterly clueless about what is happening in their supply chain?
Read our next post to find out.