Factory facts

An independent reporter's first-hand account of the Blackspot factory.

The man himself, Pedro Cunha.

Blackspot prides itself on producing its shoes at a unionized factory with high ethical standards. We are aware this makes our shoes more expensive than many, but humane working conditions for the workers is not something we are willing to compromise on.

We go to great lengths to be as transparent as possible and to inform Blackspot supporters on what our factory is like, but with greenwashing being rampant in business these days, it's hard for people to distinguish between fact and fiction. Therefore, we would like to share with you the experience of independent reporter Gaëlle Engelberts, who recently returned from a trip to Portugal to visit the Blackspot Factory. She went in search of answers about fair trade. Here is her first hand report on the quality of the factory, and what sets it apart from all the rest:

As fair trade producers, the employees of Mario Cunha & filhos Lda, a shoe factory in Felgueiras, can boast some of the best conditions in the area. Yes, the grueling work of sewing pieces of leather together all day hasn’t changed, but everything that could be done to make this job safer and more human was put into place. Toxic non water-based glue is no longer used, work hours are ceremoniously respected, there is adequate lighting and air circulation, and all employees can join the local union.

The manager of this family-owned factory, Pedro Cunha, believes all factories should install similar measures to insure the well-being of their workers, but he acknowledges that most factories aren’t bothering to do so, often because it involves higher costs. “For example, water-based glue is less toxic, but much more expensive. It's the same with recycling of leather instead of throwing it out,” says Cunha. For him however - being a fair trade producer - cost is not an issue, because “everyone is a human being and we must work like a family. It is important for us," he adds.