Thistle and Broom is a company that sells more than just knitted items. I of course am most interested in that portion of the business. Paying Knitters is highly problematic for everyone in the knitting world. It's very labour intensive and can therefore eat up all the profits from a designers or sellers work. I do pretty much all of my own knitting for this reason and I'm sure that is why the free pattern testers group is so popular on Ravelry. It is only one of many such groups.
Many of the designers I've interviewed do their own knitting or have friends that help them out creating their samples. My conundrum has been that if I pay true value to a sample knitter based on the hours of work required, I'm in the red in real cash dollars on any design that does not prove to be popular. To be honest I'm in the red on my own work as well but that is time not actual dollars out of my pocket. Tech editing requires more up front cash outlay as well. Predicting the popularity of a design in advance is a gamble at best.
According to their site: "90% of our offerings are priced on the Fair Trade model so that 2/3rds of the retail price goes directly to the artisan."
Wow that's impressive!