It has been nearly a year since the company Salt has taken the press’s attention for its $140 purse straps, which some styles have gone up to $160 in the time being. Meaning it is time to take a peek at where the fair-trade company stands today while still only selling one product.
Salt’s sole product in “the shoppe” is attachable hand-woven cross-body handbag straps, which are also gorgeously patterned in both chic color pallets and monochromatic designs. The detachable quality of the Salt straps even inspired the prominent brand Lululemon to create the very same product, in its “festival shoulder strap” for a much smaller $38.
From my original article on Salt straps: “after knowing each other since college, [founders] Kacy and Marla are very happy to finally be working alongside each other,” (January 2019). But this is the only the first part Salt’s company forming on wholesome fun, more can be found on Salt’s family-spirited “Backstory” page.
The next part of Salt’s unique story is its mission and work for an international community. Under Salt’s “Doing Good” page, it can be read that a portion of each salt strap purchase goes to a small, artesian Colombian tribe called Wayúu; whose mochila bags inspired the bag straps and whose craftsmanship are the roots of the Salt company. Establishing itself on supporting fair-trade business practices, the price of the Salt straps starts to become more understanding.
During the January article on Salt, that generous portion of revenue was going to the Wayúu Tayá Foundation – although it was not stated as to how much that portion was. This foundation is mentioned in Salt’s current “Doing Good” page but the page was updated without a date given.
Presently, the “Doing Good” page says: “we are thrilled to have found a new way to help the Wayúu artisans thrive: We’ve partnered with Nest, an amazing non-profit committed to the advancement of global artisans through transparency, sustainability and advocacy. Nest supports more than 500 artisan businesses across over 90 countries with programs aimed at preserving cultures, fighting for gender equity and helping sustainably grow artisan businesses.”
The new charity Nest, in addition to Salt’s eloquently put description, has all of their programs and ways of partnership on their website. Nest also has all of its finances available to the public, tied with an infographic that signifies that the longer the charity has stood, the more it has been able to give back. In the last available audit (2017), Nest shows that it spent roughly 50% of its revenue that year on “artisan business development,” which was just over $1 million.
As for the old charity, the Wayúu Tayá Foundation, there is no reason given from Salt as to why it decided to move onto a different charity. The Wayúu Tayá’s finances are not available but it does say in on the “History” page that the foundation only aids over 450,000 people in five Latin American tribes.
This may explain why Salt chose to move – while the original foundation was quite specific to where the Salt straps are created, Nest looks more directly to support “business development” and that is what Salt’s support in the fair-trade movement is entirely for.
The current Salt “Doing Good” page then continues: “funded by a portion of proceeds from each Salt strap, Nest conducts in-depth needs assessment and well-being surveys to identify the challenges our Wayúu artisans may face, connect them with the appropriate training and resources and better understand how their work with Salt impacts their lives.”
Further, on Nest’s “Ethical Handcraft” page there is a downloadable program on how Nest has been promoting its “Nest Standards” in the fields for over 13 years through climate surveys and addressing ethical issues in the workplace and home.
Another interesting part of the Salt company that ties to is global support, Salt holds a blog called “Salt Shakers” where it holds interviews with other philanthropic women in business. This is unique to most modern online fashion shops that have either no blog or a blog on fashion trends
To push this a greater distance, Salt could try to have these interviews published in larger blogs or magazines. The photos for each interview feature two important aspects: the benevolent interviewee and their beautifully patterned Salt strap – supporting both a humanitarian lifestyle and the Salt brand.
While Salt’s portion of profit toward the Nest charity is not stated on the website, it is still clear to see that its mission of supporting ethical and fair-trade practices and helping the Wayúu people is the ambition of the Salt company.
In considering the average price of a Salt strap, between $128 and $158, is roughly $140 – one does still beg the question, how much of this cost is going towards charity? Acknowledging the fact that both Salt and Nest have business costs that take portions of this, the answer might boil down to two things: (1) businesses cost more than we expect them to in order to run, even non-profits, and (2) if you wish to give a larger portion to charity, then give it straight to them.
If you wish to help further assist the Wayúu people without buying a Salt brand strap, there is a “Donate” page for both online donations and an address to take checks for Nest. As well as an online donation page for the Wayúu Tayá Foundation, depending on the donator’s choice for charity. With Nest’s financials transparent to the public, it is understandable that that is another reason for Salt’s moving. But, of course, it is always possible that one website is simply better designed than the other.
Ethics and moral reasoning are largely dependent on the user, there is a way to both have a “salt strap” and give to the artisans that made the designs, and without paying over $128. If one were to purchase Lululemon’s $38 “festival shoulder strap” and give to either of the charities any amount under $90, then this would be cheaper than buying directly from Salt. And after reading this, it may even be easy to conclude it before getting to this section. But the reason why this would be unethical is that it takes Salt out of the picture.
Taking out the middle man of charitable product-buying works, yes. But, this then decreases the viral-ability of the charity/issue itself. If everyone came to the same conclusion (of cutting out the middle man) this would conclude any perpetuities of word-of-mouth advertising. And for some people, there is no thought to give to charity without the prospect of receiving something.
There were many reasons as to why shoe-for-shoe non-profit business work: you get a shoe, someone else gets a shoe, you also get something to say about your shoes, your shoes tell a story, your shoes say something about how you feel about charity. The price point for these shoes is generally low and also another reason why the purchase is so motivational. Salt straps carry these same messages, aside from the price. For this reason, shops like Salt are important to support charities and global issues altogether.
Taking everything into account, it seems that over the past near year, Salt has continued to work towards its humanitarian mission of supporting a fair-trade business practice. Persisting with the purse strap as Salt’s only product, even with larger competition, and supporting follow altruistic women. And Salt seems to be a trustworthy company that, compared to a large number of corporations today, is untainted by modern business methods.