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Ethical sourcing makes jewelry business sparkle


TRURO – This past fall was the eighth time Miriah Kearney and Rebecca LaPointe travelled to India to check out manufacturing facilities.

Miriah Kearney and Rebecca LaPointe formed Beck & Boosh in May of 2013 with the majority of their jewelry being handmade at facilities in India. They have travelled to the manufacturing facilities on more than one occasion to make sure working conditions and their products are what they’re looking for.

It’s something the two women and co-owners of Beck & Boosh want to do for their jewelry business, which they launched online back in May 2013.

“We help employ over 100 artisans in India with Beck & Boosh,” said Kearney, known as the Boosh in the business. “We’ve checked all the manufacturing facilities we use and it’s a pleasant place to do our business while keeping the products cost effective.”

Eighteen months ago, the two former school teachers created the company after realizing their common interests including fashion. Because Kearney had already built up some relationships in India from previous visits, the two decided to work with artisans there, with 70 per cent of their products coming from India.

“We pride ourselves on building those relationships,” said Kearney. “We’re not wiling to compromise our ethics. We’re always open and up front with everyone on how and where our products are made. Buying internationally, there is a lot of negativity and it definitely does exist, but it doesn’t for us.”

Since beginning the company, Kearney and LaPointe have spent time with the people, both men and women, who help bring their designs to life.

Kearney said the employees at the four manufacturing facilities work regular hours, similar to those worked here, but on a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift.

“They all have a communal lunch break, so everyone sits and eats together,” said Kearney. “There are marshals in India that go around to these facilities to make sure the employers are complying with the standards they have there.”

She said some larger manufacturing facilities are known to hide employees away to keep them working, however it’s not something that happens at the four small facilities they use.

Because the facilities aren’t centrally located, all the employees are bussed into the facilities before making the jewelry by hand. The jewelery makers sit on the floor of the bus together, which is customary for the Indian culture.

While they started with jewelry and some accessories for men and women, the business has expanded and now includes a line of t-shirts, which came from a limited edition line of jewelry that focused on where people come from.

The shirts, like all the jewelry, are all designed through the Truro company, with printing being done at two facilities in Nova Scotia.

The actual shirts come from Kenya.

“Cambodia, Vietnam and Central America are known for their sweatshops,” said Kearney, adding she and LaPointe knew that before they started the t-shirt line.

“But with the research that we’ve done, this company doesn’t have a reputation for using sweatshops.”

And while many might turn to cheaper alternatives for similar products, LaPointe and Kearney spread their brand as much as possible.

“If people don’t see if for themselves, they wonder if it’s cheap or not,” said LaPointe. “But we want to share our brand. People can pick it up and see it for themselves, and trust the quality.”

“We can’t get quality products if we don’t go there ourselves,” Kearney added about visiting the facilities.

 

rtetanish@trurodaily.com

Twitter: @TDNRaissa

 

About Beck & Boosh:

-       Started in May 2013 with 80 pieces of jewelry – 15 per cent being handmade, 80 being sourced from India, and five per cent from China and Korea.

-       Last year, 20,000 pieces of jewelry were made.

-       Now, nothing is made in Korea, five per cent comes from China, 25 per cent is handmade by employees in Truro and 70 per cent comes from India.

-       The business started when Rebecca LaPointe and Miriah Kearney were school teachers, and now the two work fulltime with the company.

-       They started in Kearney’s basement, but now have an office location at 30 Duke St., Truro, ground level unit 4.

-       They have grown to a point where they can employ staff, with at least one in the office daily, up to four total.

-       The business just started wholesaling their products, with plans on wholesaling their line across the country.

-       They opened a pop-up kiosk at Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth from September to December and are hoping to return, but there is more potential to expand on the retail side.

-       They have started fundraising for local causes, including helping schools and a local athlete with the hopes of going to the Olympics.

-       After home parties doing well over Christmas, they’re working on that model and possibly expanding it across the country.

-       They’re expanding their homemade line with their unique and original designs.

-       They’re beginning to work with a manufacturing facility in India owned and operated by two sisters “who are taking the fashion world by storm.”

-       Each manufacturing facility has its own product outcome style, and oftentimes that style is taken into consideration when designs are created.

Beck and Boosh keep their customers up-to-date through their website, www.beckandboosh.com, and a blog at http://blog.beckandboosh.com

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