Made Trade, Founder
Cayley Pater, Founder of Made Trade, on her passion for languages, the importance of connecting with artisans and ethical designers worldwide, and her entrepreneurial journey
“My ultimate dream is to be able to use language and to work with artisans, support traditional art forms, preserve culture, and share their stories, particularly in the US. I think products are an amazing way to connect with people and to connect with cultures worldwide. They can bring beauty and meaning into our lives, help us to see the world in a different way.”
Q & A with Cayley Pater:
1. City of residence: Portland, Oregon
2. Place of birth: Southern California
3. In under five sentences, define your business: Made Trade is an online destination for exceptionally designed, ethically made goods. We hand-select fair trade, sustainable, USA made, vegan and heritage products from brands and makers around the world who are committed to responsible sourcing and fair business practices. Our mission is to provide a single destination for ethically elevated apparel, shoes, accessories, home goods, furniture and lighting – the ultimate destination for conscious consumers who love design.
4. What social or environmental impact is your business making? Our primary requirement for curation is that every single product on Made Trade must make a clear positive social and environmental impact on the world in how the product is made. Each of our brand partners undergoes an application process and questionnaire so that we can assess their commitment to paying fair wages and responsible sourcing of materials. Defining ‘ethically made’ is very subjective, which is why we aim to provide full transparency about each product so that our customers can know where each item was made, how it was made, and the materials used to make that product – and they can then decide for themselves if the product aligns with their values.
5. What is the best part about your job and the work you’re doing? Why? I love working with small businesses who genuinely and actually want to use business for good. I used to think that if I wanted to make a positive impact on the world, I had to work for a charity or nonprofit initiative, but then I discovered the power of the social enterprise and it has completely changed how I live my life and how I see the world on a very fundamental level. I fell in love with the artisan sector and working with traditional art forms through fair trade when I was in college. I then began to realize that business can be an incredible force for good that is actually way more sustainable than giving back to communities in need. It’s one of those mindset shifts that has a ripple effect on everything in your life. All of the sudden, you realize that every time you spend money, you’re voting for something – whether it’s organic farming, getting plastics out of our oceans, or supporting traditional weaving in a rural community. Every product we buy and bring into our lives has an impact on people somewhere in the world, and I really think that the giveback model misses this crucial point. If people were paid a livable wage for their work, they wouldn’t need financial aid. If materials used in the products we buy were responsibly harvested without exploiting the planet’s resources, we wouldn’t need to undo damage that’s done as a result of manufacturing. I love working with entrepreneurs who see business as an opportunity to truly innovate and change the world through sustainable design.
6. What book(s) are you currently reading? My partner recommended Rework to me about a year ago, and I keep coming back to this book because it has really great insight on starting a business and, most importantly, keeping things simple throughout the process.
7. Quote you try to live by? Most recently, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
8. Using one word, how would you describe yourself? Persistent
9. What is one random fact that most people don’t know about you? I speak five languages (Hindi, German, Spanish, Farsi and English).