In January 2021, I set out to create a clothing brand for women that would make them feel beautiful, regardless of their shape or size. It truly is a miracle that we don't know all the trials and tribulations we will face when we start a business, or we probably wouldn't do it!
I had specific requirements for a manufacturing partner. They needed to be ethically responsible, meaning they treat their workers respectfully. They needed to be eco-friendly, meaning they would use upcycled, organic, or natural (rather than synthetic) fabrics. Lastly, they needed to be a partner to me and to my company.
After 6 months with a manufacturing partner I at first adored, I received my first samples. I looked over the pieces and started to notice things that were not the quality I would expect in a manufacturing partner. The seams were messy, the cuts were uneven, the colors were not what we had agreed upon.
I started to ask questions. I asked if the fabric was organic. The response: No. I asked if the fabric was upcycled. Response: No. I asked if they used natuaral dyes. You guessed it. Nope.
Frustrated, but understanding that there were human beings on the other side of this transaction, I sent them my requested changes and asked how long they thought it would take to make them. They explained they could make the quality changes, but if I REALLY wanted to use organic and upcycled fabrics, that was going to be another 6 months to source.
My stomach lurched into my throat. THIS was why I selected this particular manufacturing partner. They were supposed to be eco-friendly. They were supposed to be sustainable. Instead, they had delivered something that was completely opposite of what my brand represented, and the way I had been marketing my brand.
I briefly tried to give them another chance to redeem themselves. But, week over week went by. I debated selling the clothing anyways, because I NEEDED to make money. The clock was ticking.
Instead, I held true to my morals. I didn't want to create just another fashion brand. I want to reduce the impact fashion is having on the environment. And I can't do that if I am doing what every other fast fashion brand out there is doing.
So 8 months into my business partnership with this manufacturer, I walked away. Thousands of dollars had gone into those 2 prototypes, which now caused me great anguish to even look at. I began desperately to seek other manufacturing partners and could find none that would produce the low quantity I wanted AND provide organic, sustainably sourced fabrics.
Then I received an email from someone who knew me through the previous manufacturer. They said they could use organic fabrics, recycled fabrics, and natural dyes where possible. We began to discuss the project, and timelines, and cost. And now, 1 month later working with them, I am still waiting for the prototypes to be shipped.
BUT, I can say that I honestly stuck to the fabric (pun intended) of how I've branded this business. Yes, it has caused great delays. Yes, I could have EASILY taken shortcuts and greenwashed my brand (google it if you don't know what that is!). But instead, I made decisions based on the integrity of the brand.
I want to thank all of our supporters who have been waiting patiently for our launch and I hope you will be thankful that as a brand, we are delivering what we said we would: a sustainable, slow fashion brand of women's work apparel that is comfortable, functional, and stylish.