When you buy a Fair Trade Certified rug from west elm, you’re doing more than give your home an update—you’re helping to provide safe working conditions, fair labor practices, and benefits to the workers who made it. west elm’s rug factory in Panipat, India was one of our first manufacturing partners and our first factory to become Fair Trade Certified. The factory kicked off its Fair Trade assortment in May 2014 with 38 styles. As of today, we’ve gone on to produce over 2,400 styles with them.
In addition to compliance with the wage and labor practice criteria that make it Fair Trade Certified, each factory with the Fair Trade designation receives a special premium, a financial reward that the factory’s workers vote on how to distribute. Over the three-year period that the Panipat rug factory has been certified, premiums have gone towards transportation initiatives, clean water, medical care, holiday celebrations, and kits of personal care products. The factory’s first premium disbursement went towards bicycles for all factory workers, an initiative that allowed workers to save on commuting costs and receive an overall monthly wage increase of 23%. “Bicycles have helped us a lot,” says Prahalad, one of the factory’s weavers. “Before, we had to take rickshaws. Now we save money on fares and can get to work on time.”
We recently had the opportunity to visit our Panipat factory to meet its workers and document its amazing rug-making process. Take a closer look below and find out how your Fair Trade Certified rugs are made!
↑ Rajnesh Kumar Mehto stands at the machine loader in the dyeing department.
↑ A worker named Seema oversees the yarn opening process.
↑ Yarn being spun onto bobbins.
↑ A worker named Ramesh wraps the “warp” portion of a rug’s weave onto a warping machine.
↑ A worker named Shatrudhan hand-tufts west elm’s Souk rug.
↑ A worker named Vikram hand-tufts a Medina rug.
↑ Aarti Rathor attaches braided tassels to the Souk Rug.
↑ Souk rugs hanging out to sun dry.
↑ A worker named Stender transporting off-loom rugs from one area to another for further processing.
↑ Weaver Prahlad shows off his work on the Traced Diamond Kilim.
↑ The Fair Trade Committee. From left to right: Salju Rehman, Prahlad, Sanjay Soni, Anil Kumar, Shabuddin, Vikram, Riyasat Ali.
↑ Factory managing partner Sumeet Nath, standing in front of a Christopher Wynter rug.
↑ Vikram holds gift vouchers, provided by the Fair Trade premiums.
↑ A worker named Jagatpal bikes home. Bicycles and clean water were two initiatives that were enabled by Fair Trade premiums.
↑ The factory’s temple
↑ Prahlad at home with his family.