Over the last 5 years, We Are Hairy People has been committed to improving all areas of our work to ensure we are as ethical as we can be. These areas are outlined below, spanning from working conditions of garment makers, through to our heart as a social enterprise.
The Clothing: We Are Hairy People paint on to clothing made by reputable companies, who are members of or certified by independent organisations such as the Fair Wear Foundation, FSC, Oeko-Tex, WRAP & GOTS. These certifications mean that the garments are created under more than ethical working conditions, where workers at all levels of manufacture or 'in the supply chain' from plantation to warehouse are paid fairly and looked after well. From the members monitored by the Fair Wear Foundation, we choose those who are accredited within the top category- ‘leader’.
Furthermore, renewable energy is used in the EarthPositive factories, making those pieces Carbon Neutral, as well as all the garments in all three suppliers that we use being made Organic, to reduce pollution and save on mass water waste.
We also collaborate with independent makers such as Lucy & Yak, Lefrik, Everybody.world Pangaia and UnitedChangeMakers who are smaller scale and hold even higher standard ethics.
We paint on to Lucy & Yak and Pangaia’s excess stock (which can accumulate sometimes, even with the best practices used), to give them another chance of a loved life.
The Artists: Sarah Caulfield is the main artist here at We Are Hairy People, and she manages the other freelance artists by offering them paid opportunities, where they’re able to choose working days and hours, as well as supporting the development their own work and offering the We Are Hairy People online selling platform and infrastructure, in order for them to have freedom to build their own work, alongside stability. Freelance jobs are paid £12-22/hour.
We work in a community therapeutic Art Studio funded by Sarah’s online shop sales, to give up to 10 artists the chance to own their own futures, and offer an art space for art therapy programmes that we run. Artists usually stay for 1-5 years as we’re often a stepping stone that provides skills and confidence to go on to a more personal purpose. A small taste of that is often experienced at the one off public workshops.
After coronavirus, we have focussed art therapy programmes, ready to launch, funded by the shop sales.
The Paints: All paints and dyes are Vegan, Cruelty Free and non toxic. The paint is water-based and is set with heat to fuse with the fabric in a similar manner to screen prints. They’ve been approved as eco friendly by a scientist at Pangaia, a materials science company that we respect deeply.
The Packaging: The main part of our packaging is a recycled double walled paper sack, with recycled paper order notes & recycled card tags. In circumstances where clients such as Asos required Polybags, we used biodegradable bags with compost instructions. Our tags used plastic barbs that were rescued from landfil, but we’ve nearly used them all up and are moving on to metal safety pins.
The Studio Guidelines: All waste is sorted for recycling here at WAHP, and rare excess stock is sent to charity shops or kept by artists. We’re often gifted excess blank clothing as well from various places that would have otherwise had to dispose of them.
We use a renewable energy provider to power our studio.Diversity: Collections are used to promote love-filled messages, now trying to focus as much as possible on inclusivity, self care and endangered animals.
During 2020 we managed to increase the size availability of 95% of items up to 2XL (UK20) and 40% of items up to 5XL (UK28). In 2020 we will continue to make these percentages increase, but would like to have more items sent in as a environmental priority, so we’re not looking to expand new designs now and rather find alternative avenues to serve all kinds of bodies better, as we do not make the clothes ourselves, so we want to focus more on what we’re best placed to offer to the world which is painting and Upcycling preowned items.
We have eco-printed (not painted) carbon-neutral charity garments available, where we split profits between our mental health work and activism charities/activists for; Climate action, Body Positivity, Gender and Disabled inclusivity, Conservation and other important issues faced by many.
We’re focussing on bringing more larger sized people, black people, indigenous people and people of colour in to photoshoots to increase representation and celebrate beauty in diversity, and need more applicants for these paid shoots. We’re also looking for black artists to work on printed T-shirt collaborations, to support their art and Black Minds Matter.
Animal welfare: No animals, animal testing nor animal products are used in either the painting studio in Bristol or by our trusted suppliers. Furthermore, the WAHP team themselves are predominantly vegan or vegetarian.
The Next Step: We have now switched to 90% organic and working to get to 100% organic materials, to reduce worldwide water consumption, and increasing the number of pieces available in more sustainable & biodegradable fabrics such as Hemp and Linen.
In 2020 we increased awareness of our custom pieces and the option to send in clothing, so as to push that aspect of our work forward and decrease buying new items in for painting, even though they’re sustainably made, we want to up cycle more clothing.
In 2021 we want to find more ways to push these two things, to bring together, special personalised art, along with bringing garments back to life, as we can see this is the most sustainable service we can offer.
Custom items and Upcycling became 45% of the work performed in the studio by the last quarter of 2020. In 2021, we’d like to get this up to 80%. We will slowly reduce our inventory in the early part of the year- replacing that catalog with an ‘inspiration gallery’, and use non-ad based internal campaigns, to promote Upcycling clothing with custom designs.
Extra Advise: We recommend washing your pieces at low temperatures, always inside out, and send them back for repainting at just £10 if anything goes wrong. Be sure to wash dyed items on their own for first was then with like colours or alone after that. We hope your garment enjoys a long cared for life, and that you truly enjoy experiencing your wearable art!