Frequently Asked Questions
We have the best customers on the planet and they have had some incredible questions over the years, so we gathered them here to hopefully help answer any questions you might have as well.
What are the strap lengths for your bags?
- Cyclo can extend up to 2 meters = 79”
- Raja straps can extend up to 1 meter = 39”
- Jalan strap can extend up to 1 meter = 39”
- Bagan can extend up to 1.5 meters = 59”
Phone Size Fit
- Currently, all of our smaller bags (Chaalo pocket, Chiburi Accordion Wallet, and Bagus Bum Bag) fit mobile phones with the dimensions: 158 x 77.8 x 8.1 mm (6.22 x 3.06 x 0.32 in) - All iPhone Plus and Pro - though the new iPhone 12 is a little too large for the wallet.
Can you help me understand the variations of textiles?
Why does it look different than the website?
- All of the artisan fabrics incorporated into our bags are handmade. Because we started this company to honor and celebrate their traditional designs, each artisan may have some variation of the motif to personalize it, or the fabric dyes may differ slightly with each batch!
Can I choose a specific textile variation?
- Unfortunately, we can’t provide specific selections of each textile. We produce our bags in large production runs before sending them to our warehouses. Once they are in the warehouse, we can no longer look through each specific variation to select them. However, we offer an exchange within 30 days of your purchase if you don’t like the variation you received! The new product that will be sent out will be a surprise as well, so keep that in mind!
- Here’s a quick video walkthrough by founder/head designer Jake Orak that best describes it:
Why are there different prices for the same product?
- All of our products have a three price tier attached to them. This is due to the fact that different textile processes cost a variety of amounts relating to the process and materials used. These are Batik/Print - Woven - Embroidered.
- An example of the price tier for the cyclo sling looks like this:
- Ghana 25 - (Batik/Print) - $79 USD
- Guatemala 1 - (Woven) - $89 USD
- Vietnam 5 or 6 - (Embroidered) - $99 USD
How do you clean and care for your bags?
Can I pop my bag into the washing machine and dryer?
- No! Please don’t put your Ethnotek products directly into the washing machine; this may cause features in the high tech materials to no longer have its intended strength. This could also lead to fading in the artisan fabric or fraying.
How do you clean and care for the Threads and Artisan Fabric?
- To prolong the life of your beautiful Artisan Threads™, we recommend applying a waterproofing or UV protection spray as you would to a new pair of shoes or boots. Some recommended brands are Nikwax TX-Direct spray-on water repellent treatment, Scotchgard Durable Water Repellent spray, and McNett™ UV Tech™
- If you have a stain on your fabric, use a very gentle wash and only clean the affected area.
How do you clean the main bag?
- If the primary bag exterior material or interior lining is spilled on or stained, use cold water, a tiny amount of gentle detergent, and a nylon-bristled brush to scrub out. After scrubbing and wiping clean, open the bag fully and let it air-dry.
What is included in your return policy?
Can I return my bag?
- Yes! You may return any product within 30 days of receiving it as long as it’s in new and unused condition.
How do I return my bag?
- Easy! Send an email to Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a return. Please include your order number in your email.
Is shipping for my return prepaid?
- Unfortunately, we are unable to refund any shipping costs that occur when returning your product. We do, however, remove any fees associated with restocking and processing :)
What are your shipping policies (within the US and internationally)?
When will my order ship?
- In-stock orders typically ship within 24hrs Monday through Friday. At this time, we do not have the resources to ship on Saturdays and Sundays nor U.S. holidays (for example, Christmas Day)
Do you accept international orders, and how long do they take to arrive?
- Yes, we do! We currently have a warehouse in Australia and the US. Orders typically take 7 to 10 days internationally though the pandemic has provided unpredictability.
- Currently, orders from Germany take about 14 days to arrive and do face VAT fees. For faster and more affordable options, check out our fantastic distributors at www.ethnotek.de
Is there VAT/Customs fees if ordering outside of the US?
- We are still a small family business, with only one warehouse located in the U.S. International shipments may be subject to import charges (Duties, Customs tariffs, and VAT), which are set by the destination country. We are unable to collect additional duties and taxes during the purchasing and checkout process. Therefore customers are responsible for covering any additional charges provided by your country of residence, which must be rendered for your package to clear customs. For more information regarding your country's customs policies, please contact your local customs office.
Are your bags waterproof?
- Our bags are Water Resistant instead of waterproof :)
Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant
- This is a great question! Our bags are made with water-resistant ballistic nylon or recycled PET. This does provide some protection from the elements but is not 100% waterproof.
- We have rain covers available for the Premji backpack and the Raja 30 and 46-liter backpacks.
- The 30 liter Raja Camera backpack has a built-in rain cover already included in it!
General Company Questions
Are you Far Trade or B-Corp Certified?
- At this time, we are not fair trade certified. When looking into the process, this certification isn’t always obtained ethically, is offered by numerous sources through various & differing methods, which don’t provide the security desired by both ourselves and our business partners’ sustainability practices and ethics. We found that most certification companies do not connect with the artisans directly, you simply fill out an application form and make a payment to receive certification. This isn’t the level of transparency that fits our core values, so if you have any questions about our process, feel free to reach out, we’re happy to provide any and all information about our business.
- B-Corp certifications are biased toward medium to large companies that have teams of full time employees and have physical facilities such as an office, retail store, factory etc. We are a small family business run by husband and wife duo Jake and Cori who are owners, and our operations manager Anthony in California. The rest of our team are freelancers. We run the business fully remotely from many different countries and the factory workers and artisans are not our employees. Because of this model, we don’t score many points on B-Corp’s application. To score higher, we would have to manufacture governance documents that speculate the environmental impact of facilities we do not own, rent or work from, and employment contracts for employees we do not have, which we find to be untruthful. B-Corp also does not dive deep into the artisan supply chain, which is the core of our business and where we’d score most of our points. We spoke with other small businesses similar to ours and they said they had to hire an outside consultant to complete the application and create the governance documents for them. We even tried this ourselves, but with no success. To put it plainly, we prefer radical transparency over 3rd party certification, afterall, seeing is believing! Certification is there to serve those who don’t believe us, so if you don’t believe any claims made on our website, let us know, we’ll happily provide supporting information to you personally and if necessary, connect you directly with key people in our supply chain who can vouch for our ethics and internal culture.
- All that said, we have nothing against B-Corp, they’re our favorite certification company out there and are doing great things with great businesses. We’re happy to work with them when their criteria is redesigned to include small remote businesses like ours.
How much do the Artisans make/How are the artisans compensated?
- This is an excellent question with a long answer! As we have multiple facets to our supply chain (our partnering artisans aren't employed directly by us, we are working in collaboration with them; the same goes for the Vietnam production team). Our response is best conveyed through a percentage break down from the proceeds of each bag sold.
With full transparency, here’s a breakdown of where all the money goes from each purchase: 10% goes to our partnering textile artisans, 30% goes to material costs and our fantastic production crew in Vietnam, 20% goes to freight, warehousing & fulfillment, 20% goes to payroll for our incredible team of contractors & employees around the globe, 15% goes to systems & operating costs, and 5% goes to service fees.
The artisan percentage breaks down into two things: 1) The design of the product (how much artisan fabric is used on the bag vs. nylon components & other materials) and 2)The cost per meter of the artisan fabric vs. production, operating & payroll costs. This affects the 10% figure shared above and can sometimes be higher or lower than 10% based on the product’s design.
On average, our bag designs usually feature 10-20% artisan fabric and 80-90% tech fabric everywhere else for strength & quality. The artisan fabric [ETHNO] is the bag’s soul and aesthetic, while the other materials are for bearing heavy loads, water, abrasion & impact resistance [TEK].
When asked, the artisans don’t want hourly employment payment or charity. They simply state that they want to sell their textiles to a broader global audience and have enough demand for their traditional techniques to encourage the next generation to stay in the community and keep those traditions alive for years to come! To make our relationships with our artisans strong and sustainable, we need to be a ‘for profit’ company to raise enough money to continue placing fabric orders year-round.
10% might seem small when you look at the price of one bag, but when you look at the combined impact from all customer orders, it’s powerful! We like to use the case study of our artisan community in India (our first in-person sourcing location): What started in 2010 with one family weaving Ethnotek fabrics three months out of the year grew to twelve families across five villages weaving 8-10 months a year by 2015. Thanks to the new distribution & supply chain model we put in place that has grown to year-round employment, woohoo! And on a larger life-to-date scale, Ethnotek’s customer orders have commissioned artisans in 5 countries for over 35,000 meters, which equates to 4 Mount Everest stacked vertically, Boom! We’re incredibly grateful to our tribe of customers that made this statistic possible!
You can learn more about our partnering artisans here: http://bit.ly/ETK_Artisans
One last fun video, here’s a message to our customers from Pankaj, our facilitator in India: http://bit.ly/Meet_Pankaj
Are the artisans employees of Ethnotek?
- They are not direct employees of Ethnotek as they are busy running their enterprises within their community! When asked, our artisans don't request a wage. Instead, we purchase their fabric by the meter at prices they set. We do not barter with the artisans and happily pay the fee they ask for. Fabric price varies between $9 per meter to $102 per meter, depending on the textile process, materials, and time the artisan invests into the fabric piece.
How is the production team compensated?
- Similar to the artisans, the production team are not direct employees of Ethnotek. They are a group of people we have partnered with for over a decade!
- Sewing workers are paid an 81% higher wage than the minimum for sewing workers in Vietnam. Each worker is provided with two weeks of paid holiday time off, maternity leave, health insurance, unemployment benefits, social security, and travel & food stipend. With all benefits included, the production team workers are paid 142% more than minimum wage for sector 1 industry standard (according to the VN Ministry of Labor). Our crew’s average age is 24 and it's roughly 70% women and 30% men. The crew also do many team sports, go on trips and celebrate birthdays, weddings, and personal achievements together.
How big is your team?
- We currently have three full-time employees (Owners Jake and Cori Orak and Customer Service/Operations Manager Anthony). We have six contractors who help us with all things marketing!
Who are your owners?
- Jake and Cori Orak grew up in Minnesota, USA. They moved to Vietnam in 2006 for Jake’s first job as a bag designer. They currently live in Indonesia, bouncing back to Vietnam every three months to work with the production team and visit various artisans worldwide each year.
Why don’t you have more BIPOC in your company's management team?
- As it stands, we’re a small business, and our current executive team consists of our two owners, myself (Cori) and my husband Jake, and we are 2 out of 3 full-time employees. As resources grow in the future, we’ll continue to look for ways to diversify our team beyond our existing BIPOC supply chain. We also believe that it will be important that these hires are not just a symbolic gesture, but one of long term and sustainable value for everyone involved.
Is this cultural appropriation?
- Cultural appropriation is a good thing to question and quite a sensitive one at that. We’ve decided to write a full blog to cover the definitions of cultural misappropriation vs. cultural inclusion. You can read more about it here: Cultural Appropriation: https://ethnotek.com/blogs/news/identifying-cultural-misappropriate-and-encouraging-culture-inclusion
- To learn more about how Ethnotek practices Cultural Inclusion, check out our sourcing road map here: Sourcing Roadmap: https://ethnotek.com/blogs/news/sourcing-roadmap