One Mango Tree – making change in N. Uganda

By Kate | Women
Posted Jul 1, 2012

Connecting skilled tailors and craftspeople in developing economies to developed markets, at fair prices is what American Halle Butvin wanted to do when she started One Mango Tree. After visiting Northern Uganda on a program to study conflict resolution, Butvin was frustrated by how little foreign aid and charity seemed to be accomplishing. She recalls, “I asked Ugandans all the time what they thought they needed to achieve peace – invariably the answer was ‘jobs’.”

One Mango Tree is a member of the Fair Trade Federation and follows their nine principals. “We recognized that paying a living wage was essential to create lasting change for our tailors, ” states Butvin. “I’ve seen first-hand the massive change that can be brought on by earning a sustainable income. In the north [of Uganda], in particular, as little as $100/month in continual income can make great strides for a family – it puts kids in school, allow for families to save for land and start to build their own homes.”

The One Mango Tree line of tops, bottoms and dresses for women comes in array of fabrics including organic cotton knit, African kitenge, the fabric often used for traditional garments is so on-trend this season with its vibrant colours and patterns, plus Butvin also sources fabrics from vendors in Kampala’s vast fabric market.”We try to source materials locally to reduce our carbon footprint,” Butvin shares. “When you buy a garment in a typical mall shop, it very well could have traveled to globe twice over to get to you. By sourcing locally produced organic cotton knits and hand-loomed fabrics, we not only create additional jobs in Uganda, but we reduce our impact by creating only one journey – from Uganda to you.”

In the past year One Mango Tree also started working with a weaving cooperative. Hand-loomed cotton is Butvin’s new personal favorite. “I’m obsessed with the pink ikat pattern on our new Signature Hobo and the beautiful Beach Stripe in our new hoodie. It’s gorgeous fabric, handmade and totally wearable.” Butvin’s goal is to build garments and bags that both you and your mom would love, at an affordable price. “I have a principle rule,” Butvin shares. “If I can’t afford a garment as the owner of a fair trade apparel manufacturer, then I just won’t sell it. Just because it’s ethical doesn’t mean it should cost a small fortune. We want One Mango Tree to be available to a much wider market, so that more people are able to choose stylish apparel that is both ethical and affordable.” Magnifeco!

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