What Is Ethical Manufacturing and Why Should I Care?

Find out why ethical manufacturing is good for business—and for you.

Janery What Is Ethical Manufacturing and Why Should I Care?

From the first day I opened Janery’s virtual doors, I was committed to creating sophisticated pet beds with an unapologetic commitment to quality. Some of this quality you can see and feel—the double-stitched seams, the deep-dyed patterns, the channel-sewn cushion, the impressive waterproof liner—and some of this quality is inherent in the ethical manufacturing, which includes the quality of life for the people who help pull it all together.

I’ve written about how to be an ethical consumer, and I’ve shared some of my favorite ethical businesses with you. But what does “ethical manufacturing” really mean?

Not all ethical manufacturing occurs in America, and not all American manufacturing is ethical.

Picturing unethical manufacturing is unfortunately easy to do. We’ve all seen the pictures in the media of the sweatshops in foreign countries. It might surprise you, however, to learn that “American-made” isn’t a guarantee of ethical manufacturing, and popular stores, like Los-Angeles-based, fashion giant Forever21, have a long history of exploiting workers and state law. As recently as last fall, companies were found paying as little as $4/hour to workers who put in 11-hour days.

Conversely, not all overseas factories are unethical. Companies like Cambodia-based Tonlé focus on improved quality of life and safety for their workforce. Per Tonlé’s website:

“We're a zero waste, ethical fashion brand on a big mission, to reduce waste generated by larger factories and change the way business is done in the fashion industry. Our process starts with scrap waste sourced from mass clothing manufacturers. Using every last thread, we create handmade clothing and accessories signed by their Cambodian makers. Our family of employees is made up of individuals with spirit, drive and dreams. Together, we’ve built a supportive environment where everyone expresses themselves freely, learns new skills, and gains confidence in what they do. We believe style is more than what you wear – it’s what you choose to be a part of.”

Everlane is another example. Their tagline, “Modern Basics, Radical Transparency” makes it easy to see where their priorities lay. I am so inspired by their transparency and their mission to improve the lives of the people who make the products they sell. They have factories from LA to Vietnam, spread across four continents. The best part? They encourage you to #KnowYourFactories, and in each product listing, you can click a link to see the actual factory where that product was produced.  

On a global scale, ethical manufacturing focuses on the good health, safety, and fair compensation of the workforce. These best practices often include a commitment to minimizing waste, thorough product testing, and proper labeling. When you can source your favorite products ethically, you know you’re voting for companies that respect the time, energy, and talent that goes into each and every product. Wouldn’t this be great if it were the norm - instead of the exception?

Yes, ethical manufacturing will always cost more than sweatshop labor, because it reflects the true value of what you are purchasing. It’s a small investment to ensure the best dog beds and the best cat beds on the market.

Janery What Is Ethical Manufacturing and Why Should I Care?

What does ethical manufacturing mean to us at Janery?

When I bring in more hands to work on our luxury pet beds, I consider several factors before placing an order with a sewing factory:

  • Employees of all levels are treated with respect.
  • Employees are paid a fair, legal wage - and ideally, a living wage.
  • Employees work reasonable hours and are working at-will:  no bonded labor, no underage employment, the doors are unlocked, and they are free to leave at any time.
  • A safe work environment where repairs are made and safety equipment is available.
  • Ideally, all employees receive benefits and healthcare - though our country has a ways to go with this one.

Because of these benchmarks, I’ve been able to form amazing partnerships with manufacturers across the country, from Michigan to North Carolina and Maine.

I sleep better at night knowing we aren’t cutting corners—on style, on comfort, or on human rights, and you can rest easy knowing that your pup’s favorite waterproof dog bed has both chic, effortless style—and a higher purpose.

Explore the Janery product line and feel the Janery difference.