Exactly seven years ago, on 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza textile factory in Bangladesh collapsed, which was producing clothing for well-known fashion labels. During the collapse of the building, 1134 seamstresses were killed and another 2500 were injured, some of them seriously. This catastrophe for the first time drew the consumers' attention to the inhumane working conditions in the textile industry and also gave rise to the international protest movement "Fashion Revolution Week", which every year in April draws attention to the abuses in the textile industry and demands more transparency from fashion labels. Nevertheless, not a lot has changed regarding the working conditions of most seamstresses since the accident of Rana Plaza; therefore, the demands of the activists are still very relevant and our involvement in the Fashion Revolution Week is not only important but necessary. Therefore, we at Airpaq want to use this year's Fashion Revolution Week as an opportunity to show full transparency: Therefore, today, we would like to show you not only our production facility in Romania, but also introduce you to the people who make the production of your Airpaq possible in the first place.
The most remarkable aspect about our sewing factory is that we have a very close relationship with both the production facility itself and the local employees. In fact, our sewing shop was founded over 20 years ago by the family of our co-founder Michi and is still run by them. The sewing factory is located in Timisoara, Romania, where part of the family of our co-founder Adrian comes from. Due to its location in Romania, our sewing shop meets all European standards, as production and work there is carried out according to the EU directives SA8000 and ISO90000. In Airpaq's first year of production, – Michi and Adrian spent six months in the sewing factory – and worked out the production process themselves. During this time, the two of them were able to get to know the company and, above all, the seamstresses very well, which enabled them to establish a warm and personal relationship with each other. Now, Michi and Adrian can even communicate quite well in Romanian with the employees, which makes the atmosphere even more relaxed and cordial. Due to this close, personal relationship with our sewing shop, we have great confidence in the production facility and know that all employees feel comfortable working there and receive fair pay for their work. As Romania is also easy to reach for us from a geographical level and the concept of Airpaq is still quite unconventional, Michi and Adrian are still on site for one week every month to actively shape the production process and keep it innovative or to develop new products together with the seamstresses. Fact check: 20 employees are currently working for our label, with whom we are in regular personal contact. The ultra-modern building in which our sewing shop is located was built in 2018 only and meets all safety regulations and EU standards. We are very pleased that we are now able to offer 20 people a safe and fair workplace and hope that we can grow even further.
On the occasion of Fashion Revolution Week, the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes? has been trending in social networks in the last few days and inspired more and more consumers to critically examine the production of their clothes, as this hashtag demands that the seamstresses behind the finished garment are shown and their stories are heard. For more transparency in the fashion industry, we at Airpaq would therefore like to introduce to you two of our employees from our sewing shop in Timisoara under the motto #WhoMadeMyAirpaq?
Mariuca has been with our company since our very first steps, as she worked on the first Airpaqs ever produced in July 2017. Airpaq gave her the chance to finally become a sewing supervisor: therefore, she manages the entire production efficiently, always keeps an eye on the quality of our products and is also involved in the development of new products. She especially enjoys the last part, because Mariuca is not only a warm and funny person, but also a creative personality and loves to develop new concepts. For our Christmas party in Timisoara, for example, she single-handedly sewed flies from our airbag fabric. We liked this idea and its implementation so much that we would like to produce the flies regularly soon - – so you can be curious what else Mariuca is going to come up with! For herself, she has already sewn a pencil case, slippers, handbags and a laptop sleeve made of airbags – and it doesn't seem as if she's running out of ideas any time soon. And even outside of work, Airpaq is an issue for her: "I love telling friends and acquaintances about Airpaq’s products and the great idea the guys from Airpaq had.“
Every time we share a new post on Instagram or Facebook, we can actually be sure that a nice or funny comment from Florin is not far. Because Florin is our biggest fan in the social networks and does not let one photo or video uncommented! He joined Airpaq in October 2018 and since then a lot has changed for him: "Work is more fun and time goes by very quickly! The direct contact with Michi and Adrian makes it possible to work more efficiently". He lives with his family in the same city we produce in and is our "airbag-boss“. That means he knows exactly which airbags are to be processed how and where. Accordingly, he pre-sorts all airbags and cuts them using a state-of-the-art laser machine, which is not exactly easy to handle. He also assists diligently with the logistical processes of Airpaq and our shipping. Funnily enough, his work for Airpaq also revealed Florin's creative talent: just like Mariuca, he too began to make Airpaq fan merchandise from the versatile fabric, such as Christmas decorations, but also a lot of other decoration for his workplace. Almost every time Michi and Adrian visit the sewing factory, Florin surprises them with a new accessory. Florin says: "For me it is special that we are so close to the development of new products and we have the opportunity to give input ourselves"“
Production despite the Corona crisis?
During the Corona crisis, some fashion labels have decided to stop sending orders to sewing shops and to refuse payment for orders already received or even already produced. The sewing factories suffer most from this situation, as they are hardly or not at all able to pay the sewing factories for their work. In order to prevent such a situation, we did not cancel our orders to the sewing factories even during the Corona crisis, so that we can continue to provide a safe and fair workplace for our employees - but with a lot of precautions to prevent the spread of the Corona virus. For example, all workplaces have a minimum distance of two metres between each other and physical distance and strict hygiene regulations are also observed. In addition, our sewing shop now also produces face masks and protective clothing to make a valuable contribution in the Corona crisis to flatten the curve.
Our team spirit
At Airpaq, we are extremely proud that we can produce our items not only in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, but also in a social and fair way. One of the reasons why the cooperation with our employees in Romania works so well is that they too are convinced of our concept and are happy to support our upcycling ideas. Because they know that they are contributing to the production of fair and sustainable clothing, they have the feeling of doing valuable work and making a difference in the world - bit by bit.Florin says: "I think it's great that Airpaq is a sustainable company by using recycled materials". Hereby we would like to thank all our employees once again for their hard work, because without them the production of our Airpaqs would not be possible.