Big news: TO THE MARKET is partnering with luxury ethical lifestyle brand Parker Clay! We are consistently inspired by Parker Clay’s beautiful and ethically-sourced leather goods and hand-woven textiles, all made sustainably in Ethiopia.
Like TO THE MARKET, Parker Clay is a certified B Corp, and we are so excited to embark on this distributor partnership with a company that shares our values of ethical business, transforming the supply chain, and enriching the lives of the makers we work with. Not to mention, they were recently recognized as a Best for the World™ Community B Corp for the second year in a row!
Get to know Parker Clay through a few questions with their fantastic founders, Ian and Brittany Bentley:
Tell us a bit about the backstory of Parker Clay. How did it come to be?
“The first time we visited Ethiopia, our family was just us four – Ian, Brittany, and our sons, Parker and Clay (yep, their names came first). While living in Addis Ababa, we met incredible women overcoming the odds, discovered beautiful traditions, and learned about world-class materials that have been the backbone of luxury brands for decades, but with no recognition or growth to show for it.
An idea was born; we could bring these beautiful products to the world, create jobs to empower vulnerable women, and celebrate traditional, sustainable, and ethical craftsmanship all at once.”
Why is ethical and sustainable production important to you?
“It’s just as important to us to preserve tradition as it is to preserve the environment.
Sustainable leather is leather that is a byproduct of local farming and agriculture industries. It is considered sustainable because the animals are not raised for the express purpose of using their leather for goods — they are first and foremost farm animals.
The cultural reverence for cattle in Ethiopia has played an often-understated role in the Parker Clay story. A rich, ancient tradition of leather-working inspired us, and those same time-tested traditions lent themselves rather naturally to sustainable ways of doing business in the 21st century. That’s why we use traditional, local sourcing and handcrafting practices that reduce the impact of chrome and other chemicals that are found in our competitors’ products. We also use recycled water to minimize wastewater and environmental impacts. And, we demand our partners’ adherence to environmentally sustainable processes in their tanning and preparation of the leather we source.
Another term for our sustainable leather is ‘ethical leather’ — ethics form the backbone of our business and have led to Parker Clay’s success.”
How have your values influenced your decision making as a whole?
“We believe that when you empower a woman, you empower a village, and in Ethiopia, we're creating opportunities for women today to build a better world for tomorrow.
Impact is at the forefront of everything we do — our commitment to hiring at-risk women, paying living wages and benefits, and providing skills training, career advancement, and financial literacy opportunities for all employees leads to empowering entire communities.
To us, empowerment demands more than just jobs and living wages. We aim to break the chain of dependency by providing women with the skills, tools, and means they need to uplift their communities, their way.
Nobody is better-positioned to transform Ethiopia than the women who call it home. It's time to let them lead, and with every purchase, you help them light the way.”
Whatinspired you about TO THE MARKET as a distributor partner for your brand?
“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. Community is at the heart of Parker Clay and finding people who are just as passionate about ethical fashion is important to us. When meeting with TTM, we knew that they shared many of the same core values and that our story would be shared and honored.
We have also been working hard to build our capacity at our factory in Ethiopia. Currently, we have a team of about 200 who are represented by 80% women, and we’re looking forward to taking the next step of growth, allowing us to open up an even greater opportunity for others to share our story and experience our products.”
When and why did you become interested in the B Corp community?
“For Parker Clay, becoming a Certified B Corporation in 2018 allowed us to take an in-depth look at all that we do, from how we package our products to the working environment and health of our employees, ensuring all that we do both in the US and in Ethiopia has the highest level of positive social and environmental impact.
The best part is that the work didn’t stop there. Being a certified B Corporation means that Parker Clay’s practices continue to be evaluated year after year, as we move forward in the operation and growth of our business. In fact, we were recognized as a Best for the World™ Community B Corp after first receiving the title in 2021. The certification for community impact is awarded after careful evaluation using the B Impact Assessment where only the top five percent of 5,000 Certified B Corps globally receive the prestigious recognition.
As a B Corp, we get to be a part of a community of businesses working to create positive change locally and globally.”
What advice would you give other founders in the industry?
“Celebrate along the way. There are ups and downs throughout the journey and doing good for the world doesn't come easy, it’s hard work. We often hear about ‘work-life balance,’ but we like to call it ‘work-life rhythm’ as there are often times it's all in on one aspect of your life, but you have to make sure you are prioritizing what's most important.
When we started Parker Clay, we were living in Ethiopia and day-to-day was often very hectic and busy. We found this great retreat a few hours outside the capital city by a lake and would head down on the weekends to recharge our batteries. Take care of yourself, it helps your dream come alive and become better and brighter.”
We can’t wait to share more soon about our partnership with this fantastic brand. More details to come!