ROAR: How did 3Fish come to life and who are the founders?
Marty & Nat: 3Fish is the distillation of many ideas, over many years. Both of us are the founders of 3Fish. We had travelled extensively in developing countries before having children, and so developed an affinity for working with people from all over the world, a genuine interest in getting to know people in small local communities, and a passion for creating a business that created opportunity for all. Before 3Fish, life in the big pond included for Marty, working with Promotif, and Corporate Express and for Natalie, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Arthur Robinson & Hedderwicks, Vanguard Investments and Local Government.
The arrival of children and the journey into parenthood brought all this into focus. We decided that when our kids ask us about global warming, environmental degradation, child labour and sweatshops we wanted to be able to say that we did something to make a difference. So we decided to create a clothing company – lets create the perfect tee said Marty. And so it began...we’ve been perfecting the craft of the perfect tee since then! We are married and share this journey with 3 children; Zoe (10), Jasper (9) and Ethan (7). “Our kids are growing up with sustainability as a baseline to their lives, and an understanding that there is much greater similarity amongst the peoples of the world than differences, and that we can all effect change."
ROAR: What is the purpose of 3 fish?
Marty & Nat: By establishing our company ethos as “Do The Right Thing”, every internal system, every decision, every goal we set, our entire business planning process, every improvement we make in our systems, is geared toward creating the most sustainable company we can, minimising our footprint and maximising the benefit we can create with every single item we produce.
Our goals and objectives revolve around:
- creating a commercially successful business with a foundation of social and environmental responsibility;
- providing a quality alternative for individuals and organisations who wish to purchase sustainable, ethical clothing in Australia;
- continually developing our world class ethical supply chain, free of sweatshops and child labour, with a positive environmental impact; and
- through this tackle extreme poverty through trade.
ROAR: Why organic cotton and fair trade?
Marty & Nat: After extensive research into the international garment industry we were horrified to learn the following statistics:
- 1.4 billion people live on less than $2 per day
- 160 million children aged 5-14 years are engaged in labor around the world
- 22,000 children die in employment per annum
- Approximately 1000 conventional cotton farmers commit suicide annually in central India because of the overwhelming debt cycle
- in 2008 the production of conventional cotton used over 284 million pounds of pesticides in the United States alone, with hundreds of millions more pounds sprayed worldwide. Additionally, seven of the ten pesticides most commonly sprayed on cotton are on the EPA’s list of known, probable, or likely human carcinogens.
After extensive research, including walking our supply chain to the absolute source and meeting the farmers who grow our cotton on the cotton fields of central Maharashtra, we selected India as the location to source our organic cotton because India is the perfect environment to grow cotton. The organic cotton used in 3Fish garments is 75% rain-fed by the monsoonal rains of India, which is the largest rain event on earth, and handpicked. We estimate that through the sales of our fairtrade organic cotton garments, caps and bags, 11.3 Tonnes of pesticides & insecticides have not been used in production since of first orders in August 2008. We also selected India as our manufacturing base as we could achieve all our fairtrade, and organic cotton certifications in service providers, who are also able to meet our quality specifications in closer proximity to the cotton fields, limiting the movement of our product, and thereby making achievement of carbon neutral status more commercially viable.
Producing our products sustainably and ethically is about so much more than simply using sustainable materials in production. We decided that instead of the traditional trade-off between People, Profits and Planet in conventional supply chains, we would aim for a balance of these 3 elements:
- People – ensure people are paid fair price for their labor and that they are employed in decent conditions
- Profits – a more even distribution of profits along the supply chain
- Planet – manufacturing as sustainably as possible to protect the planet
We demonstrate this by treating the owners of factories as business partners with the universal principals of trust, respect and integrity, paying deposits in advance, including pre-ordering of fairtrade organic cotton yarn; we want our factories to make profit on our orders. 3Fish prides itself on selecting and working with supply partners who treat their employees with respect, pay them a fair price for their labor, provide safe and hygienic working conditions and are in no way involved with child labour.
We also decided to set our goals at achieving the absolute best standards possible to contribute to solving these. To that end we set our garment standards as the following:
- Fairtrade Certified, FLO ID 20301
- Australian Certified Organic ACO Licence No.11058W
- Only use GOTS certified Dyes and Inks (Global Organic Textile Standard)