Health care worker starts first fair trade scrub company

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A metro woman who works in health care wanted to buy scrubs that were made by women who earn fair wages in a poor country, but she couldn’t find any. That’s how the first fair trade scrub company in the world was born.

As rehabilitation manager at Truman Medical Center, Holly Godfrey sees some of the seven million U.S. workers who wear scrubs. She also wears them, but couldn’t find scrubs that were right, really right, for her.

“Nothing that really empowered and gave jobs to women that needed them and that’s the how the idea for Catalyst was born,” said Godfrey.

Catalyst is the name of her new company. The mission is to spark change. Through Facebook, Godfrey found a co-op in India that already made shirts and could make scrubs for Catalyst. The workers are women in the so-called “untouchable” caste.

“To be able to give them more jobs and employ more women has really just been an honor,” said Godfrey.

It was an honor, too, to give their manager a Kansas City Royals’ t-shirt when he visited the U.S.

Soon, Godfrey also found a co-op in Rwanda where survivors of genocide work. They could make light but sturdy lanyards, badge pulls and key rings out of rolled paper that’s shellacked. And she found workers in Nepal who make a tote bag that’s naturally anti-microbial because it’s made out of bamboo.

Even though Godfrey has never met any of the workers, “Their excitement is what keeps me motivated. Each woman has become so much more than a picture or a face.”

She says it’s a movement to improve the lives of the women and their children. She thinks U.S. health care workers will want to be part of that.

“We get into our profession because we think we can make a difference,” Godfrey said.

By buying scrubs or a lanyard, they can. A top or pants costs $29. For more, click here.

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