Empowerment Hey Chaley

To gain empowerment, you need to join forces

To achieve Unity in Diversity.

This was our goal when we founded Hey Chaley. The name refers to ‘hey friend, hey buddy’ in Twi, the most spoken language in Ghana, the country where it all started. Idealistic dream? Absolutely. To keep it realistic we focused on fashion. Fair fashion to be precise. Just back from Ghana and resolute to connect the creator and wearer of clothes according to the principle ‘trade before aid’: creating local employment by sewing the Hey Chaley collection in Ghana. We believe this is the core of real and meaningful local empowerment. Our fashion items travel a transparent and short path from tailor to wearer. From sewing in Ghana at TUMI Ghana directly to the webshop in the Netherlands, with our brand as a connection between these two totally different worlds. And that connection is necessary. 

Hashtag fairfashion, hashtag whomadeyourclothes

The terms fair fashion and the movement who made your clothes highlight exactly what is wrong with the fashion industry. With Hey Chaley we are on our way to a world where fair fashion is the standard. Therefore, we constantly need to evolve our brand to contribute to the solution and not to the problem. We too, have to keep educating ourselves. We too, have to be aware of us being Dutch and therefore our different cultural perspective on this. With Hey Chaley too, we made mistakes and wrong assumptions. 

For instance, we evolved from one-way traffic Ghana → The Netherlands, towards a two-way collaboration. We connect young, local entrepreneurs in The Netherlands and Ghana to showcase the diverse young talent and creative potential there and vice versa. The last few months it has become painfully clear how much local empowerment is needed in The Netherlands as well. Also here, in our beloved Amersfoort and Utrecht. 

Connecting by fashion is a big mission

Connecting creator and wearer by means of fashion is a big mission. Especially when a pandemic forces the world to drift apart. We had broaden our horizons with Hey Chaley. After all, travelling to Ghana was no longer possible. Events were cancelled (and thus the launch of a festival collection with the worst timing ever), not to mention all the disastrous consequences for the global economy and global health. 

Together with local Dutch talent, we designed artwork to draw public attention to connection. Especially now when making connections feels more important than ever. Proud of artist Mabel Feenstra we were ready to share our brand new creation…

But then the terrible news about George Floyd hit the world media… One of the most sensitive subjects in the history of mankind suddenly became a huge topic again in the news. With Hey Chaley, we are a mix of cultures, worlds and backgrounds as well and we feel enormously committed to this topic. This is exactly why we started and that is why we want to respond. After all, we are guilty of unconscious and conscious racism in the Netherlands too and we are used to deny this and wave it aside, while the problem is so big and still often unnoticed here today. 

We regularly ask ourselves: how is it possible that such a basic value as equality is still so often not respected in 2020?

To understand the basis of this, it is good to be aware of the biological pre-programming of our brain: the automatic search for ‘differences’ and pigeonholing. The trick is to break our habit of pointing the finger and accusing others of racism and acknowledge that everyone does this unconsciously, because it has been intertwined in our entire society for so long. It is very difficult to change this as an individual…

Crucial is the following question: to what extent do you let these primitive prejudices be expressed in your thoughts and behaviour? And that is the question we CAN do something about! So, now we can only agree on what has been said so many times: educate yourself, chaley! Please don’t be ignorant. You might not notice it everyday, but it’s there. Social media are such powerful platforms to get influenced and influence others in a good way about this. Learn how to be aware of your own preconceptions.

Understand that you will never fully understand. However, please stand.

 

#unityindiversity  #unite #whomadeyourclothes #fairfashion

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