This week, the EnTRUEpreneurship podcast welcomes Matt Reynolds and Scott Leonard, co-founders of fair trade and organic fashion company, Indigenous. Founded in 1993, Indigenous was one of the very first B Corporations, certified to meet standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, Indigenous partners with over 1500 artisans in Peru and pays them a living wage for their work producing handmade garments for both men and women.
Matt and Scott explore what it means to use fashion as a force for good. They reflect on the unique challenges they’ve faced in their more than 20 years they’ve been in business together, the notion of “fair trade,” and how they can provide economic opportunity to marginalized communities while respecting native culture and also turning a profit.
The EnTRUEpreneurship Takeaway:
“We’ve built a really revolutionary, one-of-a-kind, socio-economic production model that truly treats artisans with respect and dignity.”
“We’ve been the recipient of knowledge, and customs, and a way of being that is really honoring the Earth and showing us there can be a more natural way of existing.”
2:00: What does “organic fashion” mean, and what is the industry like?
3:50: What inspired Matt and Scott to start Indigenous?
9:05: What values did Matt and Scott share that led them to develop their cottage industry business model, and what does it take to make that model work?
13:23: How does Indigenous manage quality control, and what is it like to partner with artisans who are thousands of miles away?
18:45: In the early years, what were the difficulties pitching a “fair trade” clothing company to buyers who weren’t familiar with the idea?
23:55: What have Matt and Scott learned from working with artisans who exist in a world much different from our own?
29:10: Knowing what they know now, what advice would Matt and Scott give themselves when they first started Indigenous?