Exactly seven years ago today, on April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza textile factory in Bangladesh, which produced clothing for well-known fashion chains, collapsed. In the process, 1134 seamstresses and sewers lost their lives and another 2500 were injured, some of them seriously. This catastrophe drew the attention of consumers for the first time to the inhumane working conditions in the textile industry. This also gave rise to the international protest movement "Fashion Revolution Week", which every year in April once again draws attention to the grievances in the textile industry and demands more transparency from the producing fashion labels. Nevertheless, the working conditions of many seamstresses and seamstresses have not changed much since the Rana Plaza disaster; therefore, the demands of the activists are still red-hot and our involvement in the Fashion Revolution Week is not only important, but necessary. Therefore, we at Airpaq want to take this year's Fashion Revolution Week as an opportunity to show full transparency: To that end, today we would like to not only show you our production facility in Romania, but more importantly, introduce you to the people who make the making of your Airpaq possible in the first place.
The Airpaq Sewing Place
The special thing about our sewing shop is that we have a close relationship with both the production facility itself and the local employees. In fact, our sewing factory was founded by the family of our co-founder Michi more than 20 years ago and is still run by them. The sewing shop is located in Timisoara, Romania, where part of our Co-Founder Adrian's family also comes from. Due to its location in Romania, the sewing factory meets all European standards, as it produces and works there according to the EU guidelines SA8000 and ISO90000. In the first year of Airpaq's production, Michi and Adrian were even on site for six months - half a year - and worked out the production process themselves. During this time, the two were able to get to know the company and especially the seamstresses and seamstresses well, which allowed them to build a warm and personal relationship with each other. In the meantime, Michi and Adrian can even communicate well in Romanian with the other employees on site, which makes the atmosphere even more relaxed and cordial. Because of precisely this close, personal relationship with our sewing shop, we have a great deal of trust in the production facility and know that all employees feel comfortable there and are paid fairly for their work. Since Romania is also easy to reach for us from a geographical point of view and the concept of Airpaq is quite unconventional, Michi and Adrian are still every month for a week on site in the sewing shop to actively shape the production process and keep it innovative or to develop new products together with the seamstresses. By the way, we currently have 20 employees working for our label, with whom we are in regular personal contact. The ultra-modern building in which our sewing shop is located was also built only in 2018 and meets all safety regulations and EU standards. We are very happy that today we are able to offer 20 people a safe and fair workplace and hope that we can grow even further.
On the occasion of Fashion Revolution Week, the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes? has been making the rounds on social networks in recent days, inspiring more and more consumers to critically question the production of their clothing. Because this hashtag calls for the seamstresses and sewers behind the finished garment to be shown and their stories to be heard. For more transparency in the fashion industry, we at Airpaq would therefore also like to present two of our employees from our sewing factory in Timisoara under the motto #WhoMadeMyAirpaq?
Mariuca has been working for Airpaq since July 2017 and has been with the company since hour zero, having worked on the very first Airpaqs. Through Airpaq, she had the chance to finally move up to sewing manager. Since then, she has been efficiently managing the entire production, always keeping an eye on the quality of our products and also being involved in the development of new products, which she particularly enjoys. Because Mariuca is not only a warm and funny person, but also a creative personality and likes to think up new concepts. For example, she single-handedly sewed bow ties from our airbag fabric for our Christmas party in Timisoara. We liked this idea and its realization so much that we would now like to produce the flies regularly soon - so you can be curious about what else Mariuca will come up with! For herself, she has already sewn a pencil case, slippers, handbags and a laptop sleeve from airbags - and it doesn't look like she'll run out of ideas anytime soon. And even outside of work, Airpaq is on her mind: "I love telling friends and acquaintances about our products and the great idea the guys at Airpaq had."
No sooner have we shared a new Instagram or Facebook post than we can actually be sure that a nice or funny comment from Florin won't be long in coming. Because Florin is our biggest fan on social media and never leaves a photo or video uncommented! He joined Airpaq in October 2018 and since then a lot has changed for him: "The work is more fun and the time goes by very quickly! The direct contact with Michi and Adrian makes it possible to work more efficiently." He also lives with his family in the city where we produce and is our "airbag boss" in the sewing room. That means he knows exactly which airbags should be processed how and where. Accordingly, he pre-sorts all airbags well and cuts them to fit with a state-of-the-art laser machine, the handling of which is not exactly uncomplicated. He also helps diligently with Airpaq's logistical processes and shipping. Funnily enough, his work for Airpaq also brought out Florin's creative streak. Similar to Mariuca, he eventually started making small Airpaq fan items out of the versatile fabric, such as Christmas ornaments, but also a lot of other decorations for his workspace in the sewing room. Almost every time Michi and Adrian visit the sewing shop, Florin surprises them with a new accessory. Florin says: "For me, what's special is that we're so close to the development of new products and we have the opportunity to give input ourselves."
Production despite Corona crisis?
During the Corona crisis, some fashion chains decided to stop their orders to the sewing factories and to refuse payment for orders already received or already produced. The sewers suffer most of all, because in such a situation the sewing factories are hardly or not at all able to pay them for their work. To prevent exactly such a situation, we remain true to our original production plan and do not cancel our orders to the sewing factory even in the Corona crisis, so that we can continue to provide a safe and fair workplace for the employees - but with a lot of precautions to prevent the spread of the Corona virus. For example, all workplaces have a minimum distance of two meters from each other, and attention is also paid to physical distance and strict hygiene regulations in other respects. In addition, our sewing shop now also produces respiratory masks as well as protective clothing in order to make a valuable contribution in the Corona crisis, because we also want to do our part to keep the curve flat.
At Airpaq, we are very proud of the fact that we can produce not only sustainably and environmentally friendly, but also socially and fairly. One of the reasons why the cooperation with our employees in Romania works so well is that they are also convinced of our concept and gladly support our upcycling. Because since they know they are contributing to the production of fair and sustainable clothing, they, like us, feel they are doing valuable work and making a difference in the world - piece by piece. Florin comments, "I think it's great that Airpaq is a sustainable company by using recycled materials." With this blog post, we would like to once again thank all of our employees for their hard work, because without them, the production of our Airpaqs would not even be possible.