First Traceable, then Tradeable: A Look at Parker Clay

Jul 30, 2021 | Ethical Production, Fair Trade, Giving Back, Social Equality, Transparency

by Lana Alexander.

Being conscious consumers translates into the power to influence— being mindful about where and how we spend our money can influence the direction of entire industries.

That means before we buy a good or product, we have to do some research. We want to know where the product came from, how it was made, who made it, and at what cost. We want to see if the brand is mission-aligned with its sustainability initiatives. As a consumer, I, myself, want to follow brand achievements to ensure that my  purchasing power does not harm our already collapsing world. 

Brand traceability can help us do that. Essentially, traceability works like a blockchain, allowing the brand to record all activities to collect meaningful data. More brands started applying traceability to their business to become as transparent as possible with their consumers. 

 In fact, in Germany traceability is a new requirement from the government by way of Due Diligence laws. All companies must take full responsibility for their global supply chain to ensure no violation of human rights and the environment. And if any violations are found, the company will have to pay more in taxes. This is a big step into a more sustainable future where traceability enables efficiency and problem solving that many brands lack nowadays. 

While Due Diligence laws are not enforced globally and are still a relatively new concept, many brands are taking traceability into their own hands. 

 Parker Clay, a small leather company with a mission to create a safe future for the female community in Ethiopia, applies traceability to solve local social challenges. It’s currently estimated that over 150,000 women are in prostitution and 26% of women are unemployed  in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Women with little to no opportunities are forced to turn to prostitution to support themselves, but often end up enslaved, exploited, and trafficked around the world.

Since its founding in 2014, Parker Clay has had the mission to empower the vulnerable women that Founders Ian and Brittany Bentley had come to know in Ethiopia. The brand has partnered directly with Ellilta-Women at Risk (E-WAR), an Addis Ababa local NGO, to train and provide jobs to women transitioned out of prostitution and rescued from human trafficking. Being a Certified B-Corporation, Parker and Clay came up with a business plan to help women and the local community by paying living wages and benefits, and providing skills training, career advancement, and financial literacy opportunities to all of their employees.

Since the very beginning, Parker Clay has also partnered with Ethiopian production facilities in order to help develop the quality and capacity of the leather industry. As they have helped in building their factory partner’s production ability, these factories have been able to make more, connect to new businesses, and sell to more customers—all things necessary to create opportunity and break the cycle of poverty as more people get jobs and the industry grows. 

Increasing the control of their supply chain, too, has been key to having their products be made ethically. Having their own production facility in Addis Ababa under Ethiopian ownership has allowed them to be even more intentional about who they hire, the quality of production, and workplace conditions.

With 80% of Ethiopians working in agrarian lifestyles, the leather Parker Clay uses is a byproduct of local farming and agriculture industries that make up a large and historic portion of Ethiopia’s economy. Producing leather goods, then, is a sustainable way of adding value to Ethiopia’s local economy. Furthermore, they source their leather from local Ethiopian providers who treat their animals with care and respect and offer prime fair-trade prices to local farmers. 

By implementing traceability, Parker Clay tracks their achievements and showcasing their data on the yearly report to keep their B-Corp certification.  To trade something, the brand has to trace its activities first, to become as transparent as possible with the world and its consumers. As a result, Parker Clay is raising the bar for any and all brands that use leather, showing it can be done in an ethical way and improve the lives of its workers. 

Looking for more sustainable brands leading the way on transparency and social impact? Download the GoodHuman app, where you’ll be able to one-stop shop sustainable products and ethical brands curated through our five pronged vetting methodology (which includes traceability!).