by Joe Bozich, Alta Gracia CEO
You might remember that a few weeks back, we asked you to take a minute to cast a vote for me as the “Ultimate Game Changer” in the Style category. In no small part because of your involvement, I was given that honor. While I am not interested in personal accolades, I am interested in the success of this experiment that we started.
This win is a reflection that people like our idea: that you can do well by doing good. In our case, we’re paying workers a living wage, allowing them to form a union, and insuring that they have good working conditions. We want our model to be successful enough that it grows.
Here is what Arianna Huffington had to say about us when she announced the winners:
“While our Style Game Changers included style and fashion icons such as Tom Ford and Paulina Porizkova, and red carpet regulars Ashley and Mary Kate Olson, you selected Joe Bozich, who runs a garment factory in the Dominican Republic that pays its workers a living wage.”
While we’re celebrating the Huffington Post recognition, let me also give you an update about the bottom line—how Alta Gracia is doing in the more than 200 bookstores (link to stores) across the country where you can now find us . . .
The news is good. All the research that says consumers will switch brands and buy products made by workers who they believe are treated fairly is bearing out. Our two biggest bookstore partners, Barnes & Noble and Follett’s are both excited by the sales so far. Barnes & Noble is now committed to the long-term success of the project. Follett’s has also been happy with the sales figures and expressed their long-term commitment at a meeting with the President of the Dominican Republic.
Other big schools are reporting interest and excitement. Bill Simpson at the University of Connecticut (link to bookstore) reports that sales began even before the University launched its promotional effort. Jim Wilkerson of Duke (link to bookstore), our largest customer, keeps us informed on a weekly basis and his sales continue to be brisk.
It wasn’t a given that this would work—it’s very difficult to change purchasing behavior. But we are now looking ahead to how we can expand the number of campuses we are on, and to continue making the connection that when you buy Alta Gracia, you are having a very direct and positive impact on workers’ lives.
I speak for the entire Alta Gracia family when I say thank you for helping spread the word, for supporting your values with your purchases and for helping to make a difference.
I attended the Huffington Post Game Changers Awards Dinner last week, and was able to get this picture taken with Arianna Huffington herself. Check it out:
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