Retazo takes a major step in enhancing Sustainability of Fashion in Puerto Rico
Since we had the idea of creating Retazo, we always had as a goal to create opportunities by enhancing garment construction industry in Puerto Rico. One of the pillars of a Sustainable Fashion Economy is to create a workforce cycle, where both education and placement is extremely important. A couple of weeks ago we got the chance to have our first meetings with stakeholders to create an educational/workforce component for Retazo and with that construct a more Sustainable Fashion Garment Industry in Puerto Rico.
One of the meetings was Jose Luis Diaz, the CEO of the Centro Sor Isolina Ferre, which has several campuses around the island. The non-profit has a variety of technical education programs for the communities that surround their operations. Their main campus is in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and this is where they have their Professional Sewing and Garment Construction school that has been operating for some years now. The students come from disadvantageous areas in the south of Puerto Rico and spend more than a year learning everything there is to know sewing, from simple patterns all the way to complicated high-end garments.
One of Retazo’s founders, Ellen Colon-Lugo scheduled a meeting with Mr. Diaz, to speak about the possibility of Retazo being their partner to not only help educate new students in their Caimito center, but to also have some sort of manufacturing operation using graduates from their program in Ponce. To our delight, Mr. Diaz was extremely interested and quickly scheduled a meeting for us to meet the rest of their team who will be working side by side with Retazo to start a sustainable manufacturing operation, and create garments for local and international fashion designers in Puerto Rico.
Today we got to visit Centro Sor Isolina Ferré campus in Ponce to see the machinery as well as meet some of the teachers and students that will in the future work with Retazo on the sewing of the collections. This is a major step for us to create a sustainable workforce that can unite in the future to create small coop manufacturing operations and start taking orders from us. We believe sustainable manufacturing is a key offering to our designer clients, most of them who are very interested in creating fashion under a Fair Trade platform where seamstresses are paid fairly, and are given the chance to grow.