Announcing Alta Gracia: Take Pride in Clothes that Make a Difference


By Joe Bozich, CEO and Donnie Hodge, President

For some time now, we’d been grappling with the question of how to offer something more useful to people living in poverty in developing countries than charity. How could we do business in a way that made a real and positive difference in the lives of the people we employ, their families and communities?

We decided to create the Alta Gracia brand and pay our workers three times more than we were required to—a “living wage”—so that they can provide their families with adequate food, clean water, clothing, shelter, education and heath care.  And to make sure their workplace is healthy and safe, and that their dignity and rights are respected.

For Alta Gracia workers, this approach provides a pathway out of poverty and hope for the future --think of it as Corporate Social Responsibility Plus.

Over the past decade, our company, Knights Apparel, has become the largestmanufacturer of college logo apparel.  We don’t say that to brag, we say it because for this initiative to work, two things are necessary: a manufacturer who knows the business well enough to give Alta Gracia a solid chance to succeed, and consumers—that would be you--who feel good about making a difference with the dollars you spend on the clothing you wear.

There have now been lots of studies (PDF) that suggest many Americans, college students in particular, would welcome the opportunity to make a crucial difference in the lives of the workers who make the clothing they buy. And we’re now proud to be able to assure you that with every purchase you make, you are helping the workers at Alta Gracia improve their daily lives and those of their families.

Alta Gracia takes its name from the village in the Dominican Republic (Villa Altagracia) where we have our factory.  It means “high grace” (which we think is neat) and we now employ 120 workers there who are currently making apparel for over 300 US colleges and universities. Here’s how we’re different:

  • We’re serious about paying the workers who make Alta Gracia clothing a living wage. This isn’t hype:We pay our workers more than three times the minimum/prevailing wage for apparel workers in the Dominican Republic (338% of the minimum, to be exact).
  • We have third parties who watch what we’re doing to make sure we’re legit. We invited the Workers’ Rights Consortium (Link), an independent labor rights’ organization, to make sure that we continue to uphold the high standards that we’ve set for ourselves (this includes lots of on-the-ground visits to our factory).
  • Good quality/priced right. We’ve done all this without compromising on the quality of our college t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies, and it’s not more expensive than other premium brands.

The impact of your buying Alta Gracia goes well beyond those 120 workers and their families – it lifts up their entire community.

We’re grateful to our partners like the universities, Worker Rights Consortium and the 300+ college bookstores that have already agreed to carry Alta Gracia. Here’s how you can get involved and make a difference:

1. Buy Alta Gracia. Yes, this is an old-fashioned sales pitch. But it’s vital that you support this so that we can hire more workers and spread this idea. Shop here.

2. Spread the word. We’re on Facebook and Twitter, and we hope you’ll “fan” us, tell your friends, and pass things along.  We know that there are lots of people like us who want to see their money have an impact.

3. Sign the “Commitment to Buy” pledge. As we’re launching, we realize that not everybody who wants to help is associated with any of the 350 schools we’re working with yet. But there is something you can do! Sign our “commitment to buy” pledge to show bookstores that there is a demand for Alta Gracia and if they carry it, you’ll buy it.

We’re excited to finally put Alta Gracia out there. So, what do you think?



Add Comment

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.