Moonrise Dress in blue :: View the Lookbook

What do Mata Traders and West Elm have in common? Our good friend and fair trade advocate Jenny Gootman! We met Jenny through her previous position as the Executive Director for Global Goods Partners; she has been a part of the fair trade community for quite a while now. Nowadays, Jenny works as the Director of Social Consciousness and Innovation at West Elm. We think she’s a rockstar, so we interviewed her about her current position and her thoughts on fair trade.

Starling Pocket dress in bottles :: View the Lookbook

Before we get into Jenny’s interview (and speaking of rockstars), these beautiful photos of Jenny were taken by the very talented Layli Samimi!

Twist and Twirl dress in yellow  :: View the Lookbook


What do you do at West Elm?

As the Director of Social Consciousness and Innovation, I help develop the strategy around the brand’s commitments to increase sourcing from artisans, supply chain transparency, and sustainability. We are trying to set the industry standard for how a retailer can use purchasing power to create economic access and social change, all while continuing to bring our customers beautifully designed, unique, contemporary products.


What is your favorite part of your job?

I love combining my experience in the nonprofit sector, my creative sensibilities, and my aptitude for business all in one place to develop programs that can be real game-changers. For example, we are piloting a literacy program with one of our artisan vendors in Haiti as part of a new initiative to improve artisans’ lives by investing in education-to-employment strategies. It’s exciting to work for a company that approaches sourcing from artisans as core to its business, understands the need for long-term investment, and has the scale to really make an impact. It’s not easy work, and takes visionary leadership and a dedicated team to make it happen, so I feel privileged to be working on a team of talented people collaborating to make something new and bold.


How did you first find out about Mata Traders?

I met the Mata Traders team at the annual Fair Trade Federation conference three years ago. I wear dresses almost exclusively, so Mata was a natural match fashion-wise, and I’ve been a huge fan and supporter ever since. On a personal level, we connected as businesswomen trying to create a positive contribution to the world through our work.

Keyhole Cutout dress in teal :: View the Lookbook


What’s your favorite Mata dress?

It depends on the occasion of course! I love the Parisian Bookshop dress for weekends. I have the Twist and Twirl dress in three colors– it’s perfect for work or weekends, especially on hot summer days. I am wearing the Keyhole Cutout right now. I love the silhouette and the neckline feature.


Do you have any advice for bringing fair trade into your work wardrobe?

My Mata Traders dresses, like the Twist and Twirl, are perfect for work travel to warmer climates like India and Haiti. The Sailor Moon dress is one of my new favorites because I think it looks sharp and professional. I can pair any of my Mata dresses with a blazer or cardigan, heels, and the right accessories for a professional work look that is consistent with my values.


What is one thing everyone should know about shopping ethically?

You no longer have to choose between great design and ethical production. It gets easier to shop ethically every day with brands like Mata Traders, and of course West Elm!  Check out FairTuesday, a project I started two years ago to help bring together companies committed to ethical production or the Ethical Fashion Forum to discover new brands. As consumers, we have some great options, so use the power that you have to make the change you want to see.

A big thank you to Jenny for those inspiring words! Using your talents, like Jenny, to create a better world is admirable and Mata Traders challenges you all to do the same in your business or community. Every little bit makes a difference!

Also, there are many more photos where these came from! Take a glance at Jenny’s lookbook here.