By Mayshad Mag
Mayshad Magazine is an advocacy platform for empowerment which mainly focuses on empowering women, raising awareness and exploring a contemporary lifestyle.
1- Can you please describe yourself?
I currently live in Miami where I’ve been for the past decade. Over the last few years, I’ve developed what I call a “travel problem.” I love to take a few months at a time to really explore countries that are more untouched by Western influences. I especially became fascinated with the people and culture of Southeast Asia. Long trips there made me want to explore more of the less-traveled areas and I discovered the beautiful products being handmade using traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations, yet seem to be almost lost due mass-produced products in factories.
2- Can you share with our audience the philosophy and the mission of Slate and Salt?
Most artisans there have no access to consumers who would find value in their one-of-a-kind pieces. If they can’t sell their products, they are often forced to work in sweatshops. I wanted to help them reach international markets and created SLATE + SALT, an online marketplace for artisan made products. Because of my first-hand experiences with these amazing people and the process of learning the horrors of the fashion industry, SLATE + SALT was created with a Fair-Trade business model. Our mission is to work closely with small social enterprises to facilitate dignified working opportunities in areas of extreme poverty.
3- What do you think about work ethics and what kind of ethics you believe in following when working in fashion?
Consumers have the power to impact the world by choosing products that have a positive impact on workers and the environment. The more consumers demand to know where their products come from, and challenge the ethics of large fashion companies, the more positive changes will be made in the fashion industry.
I think that a lot of people just don’t know how or where their products are made. They don’t realize that by supporting a brand that is manufacturing in sweatshops, they really are directly impacting the life of a worker who may only make a few cents of their purchase. When people support Fair Trade brands they are directly creating jobs for artisans who make a fair wage and can support their families. Most often, these workers are women.
Some of the products we carry we’ve sourced ourselves, but we also carry many other ethical brands from developing countries around the world. Every piece in our curated collection of jewelry, bags, scarves and home décor carries a story of the place and artisans who hand created it.
4- As a leader of your organization, how are you empowering people? How do you add value to other people’s lives?
My favorite products to source are modern, yet made from traditional techniques. We carry bags from Colombia that take 30-45 days to hand weave, cashmere scarves and throws from Nepal made on looms by blind, deaf, and handicapped weavers, and recycled bombshell jewelry from Laos and Cambodia. I think the most empowering part of starting SLATE + SALT has been helping the artisans sustain their traditions while being able to share the products and stories with an international audience. The stories are the most unique part of the brand. When you know exactly where your products come from and that they are directly impacting someone around the world, it makes you feel good about wearing them and sharing the story with others.