This question – along with ‘Is it Fair trade’ is always a little tricky to answer for me because as someone who has both studied and worked in social impact, I have a huge appreciation for how layered and complex it is to define. To be honest, it could be researched, lived and looked into until the end of time and there still probably won’t be (or need to be) a conclusion. 


What social impact has meant to me are very personal reasons that drove me to start this business. So, I can only explain how I got here and how I thought a business like Sarep + Rose could help turn the tables.


While I applaud and encourage others to make positive impact of any kind, let me be clear. I believe Sarep + Rose’s role is to take a ‘people first’ approach. Before you think I’m an environmental anarchist, let me explain.

Sarep and rose ethical social impact fashion brands

Me on a work trip in college that would unknowingly change the way I viewed aid, trade, development and the world - forever.


It has been proven (and probably common knowledge) that people generally are able to take better care of their environment when their own basic needs are met. Put another way, the average person doesn’t have a reason to want to damage the environment, unless they feel they don’t have a viable choice.


For example, the women who make our round sisal baskets live in an area legally protected to preserve its biodiversity. However, deforestation and the consumption or sale of endangered animals is a common issue in key biodiversity areas across the globe. Well, not everyone wants to or is able to move to the nearest city (another problem to discuss another day) to find work, so how else can people make money but for what surrounds them?


Sarep and rose baskets


So, the sisal is delivered in bales (part-financed by the basket sales) to the cooperatives in each area, and when each weaver is ready, she comes to ‘buying day’ with all the baskets she has made. They are categorized by size and purchased for the set price for that size. Now not only does she know she can have something to sell, she knows exactly how much she can earn (no regular price fluctuations like with everyday subsistence goods), control her own income and work schedule; earn independently ; and has no need to travel far and wide to find things that she hopes might sell for something.


There’s also a lot I have to say about how seeing so many talented people struggling to benefit from their talents is why I felt I had to start this business, but I’ll save that for another post too. 


Thanks for reading!

Robin xxx




December 08, 2023 — Robin Sirleaf

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