Ethical business practices are at the core of everything we do at BEL KAZAN. Also at our core? The people. We recently celebrated our 15-year anniversary of working with the same Balinese team—we consider ourselves a family now. We are blessed to work with such wonderful, dedicated people, and as we continue to grow, our goal is to continuously give back to the culture and people that give Bali its beauty.
After our first big order, we bought land and built our factory from the ground up (literally). The factory is managed by husband and wife duo Komang and Made, who not only helped with construction, but also assisted with staffing by bringing in fellow residents from their village, Klung Kung.
Most had no experience in the garment and manufacturing business to support their professional goals—Made included. We paid for her fashion schooling, and now she is not only a master pattern maker, she’s also our Sample Manager, who truly makes all of our designs come to life.
We also developed a skill training program so that employees could develop marketable expertise in hemming, sewing, fabric-cutting, pattern-making, beading, and quality control. When we realized that women make up 85% of all garment industry workers—many of whom have children who need supervision while they’re at work—we established policies to ensure that local craftswomen could work out of their homes in order to care for their children.
We even offer loan plans so that employees can borrow company cash (which slowly gets paid back through each paycheck) to make big purchases that make their lives easier, like a motorcycle, which is the most common mode of transport in Bali. Also, all BEL KAZAN employees receive a living wage that’s 50% higher than industry average in Bali.
Because we abide by a lean production model, we’re a cut-to-order business, which means that we don’t make a bunch of garments in the hopes of selling them all. Instead, we make sample sets every season and show them to our clients, who then put their orders in so we can go to production. Even items in our online shop are cut and sewn after an order has been placed, which allows us to purchase only the fabric yardage we really need, reducing waste.
Plus, since we own our factory, we don’t have any high minimums to adhere to—most companies have to make at least 100 pieces per style, leading to lots of unsold stock and squandered materials.
Any leftover fabric we do have gets upcycled into children’s clothing that gets donated to local villagers in need, or turned into floor mats and pillow stuffing so that nothing goes to landfill.
In the past, we’ve supported organizations as the need arose, as we recently did during the California wildfires, when we donated 20% of all sales proceeds to The American Red Cross. Starting in 2019, a portion of all our online sales will automatically go to the Bali Children Foundation, which provides education for children in remote areas of Indonesia.
If all this sounds more challenging and time-consuming, well—it is. But we know it’s the right thing to do for our customers, our employees, and our planet.