Purchasing on sale without considering the impact is like voting without knowing the candidates. Hi, I'm Nadine...
and today I am casting my vote for the sustainability of the brands I love by not having a boxing day sale, sorry (not sorry)
What I am really saying...
Every time I make a purchase I am casting a vote "I would like someone to keep making this product" I say.
Waiting for a product to go on sale says "I am not willing to pay what it is worth".
If a product only sells on sale the maker hears "it's not worth making"
What is a sale, really?
A sale is a desperate move to minimize losses from the remnants of our need for instant gratification.
We want it, and we want it now, so it better be in stock.
A business doesn't know what size we are or what color we like. All they know is when we want it, we want it now. They stock every size in every color so that when we walk through the door they don't miss out on the sale.
We are the customer.
A sale is the misunderstanding of what a product is worth.
We want it, but we don't want to pay full price for it, so we wait.
Actions speak louder than words.
As a business owner I receive a lot of feedback, and though heartwarming it can be bittersweet.
"I loved that top, will you make more?" but it was only purchased for a discounted price not worth making it for.
"I love your leggings, will they go on sale soon?" If they do, it's because I am desperate and the only thing worse than not making any money is losing it.
This Christmas I shopped local and made every effort to purchase made in Canada.
I bought less and paid more.
I cast my vote asking the brands I bought from to keep making their awesome products. Products that were high quality, eco-friendly and ethical.
And I know on a very personal level the impact those purchases had.
Every time you purchase from a small business - at full price - the owner does a happy dance. "Yes! This person wants me to stay in business" is what they hear.
Someone smiles and sighs with relief.
Is it okay to purchase on sale? Of course, just do so knowing what that purchase says.
If that products not on sale next year - if that products not even available next year - know why.
This Boxing Day instead of offering a sale I am offering sustainability.
What products and services do you love? Show them some love today, not with a sale purchase but with a select purchase.
Founder of Bewildher
Ps. The rest of today will be spent with my family playing outside in the snow, offline and unplugged as far away from a mall as possible, thanks for understanding!
Do any of these sound like you?
A. You are not good at it.
B. You lose motivation.
C. You end up injuring yourself.
These reasons are common, but they are no reason that YOU can't be a runner!
Here are my tips to help you start (or re-start) your successful running career;
1. Avoid doing too much too soon.
For the sake of your new running career please take this number one piece of advise to heart. They call it beginner's luck for a reason. That twenty minute ~magical~ run you have the first day sadly isn't going to happen every day and the problem with exhausting yourself on day one is that you are going to be too sore for a week or more to have another decent run. You'll TRY to run, but it won't feel good. It will feel like you're wearing ankle weights and you're not getting enough oxygen. After two minutes you will be dying to stop and your I'm-going-to-run-everyday promise will turn into fuck-this-shit-o'clock. Frustration caused by second day failure is the number one reason new runners quit before they've ever really started.
MY TIP - You should finish EVERY run feeling like you could keep going. Twenty minutes is a great beginners goal, but you don't need to - and shouldn't plan to - run the entire time. Even though it may feel too easy, start off by running for one minute then walking for one minute for twenty minutes. Repeat this routine every second day for a week and then aim for two minutes of running and one minute of walking the following week.
2. Keep your expectations realistic.
I repeat, that magical I-feel-awesome run isn't going to happen every day, so nip that expectation in the butt before you hurt yourself! If you've just had a great run chances are your next few runs are going to feel terrible. Instead of mentally beating yourself up try mentally preparing for some much needed rest and recovery.
MY TIP - Plan to take it easy for the next few runs following a runners high. Shorten the distance and slow down your pace. Focus on keeping your heartrate low and your muscles loosey-goosey. These slow and easy recovery runs are what set you up for I-feel-awesome runs.
Runners high - a euphoric state where you feel less pain and a heightened ability to run faster and longer, most often occurring after a period of rest.
3. It's all in your head.
Running is a mental sport - you have to train your brain - and the hardest part can be just getting out the door.
MY TIP - Trick yourself! Turn up the tunes, put on your sneakers and tell yourself you only have to run for one minute. If you want to stop after one minute you're allowed. This mini commitment will 99.9% of the time help trick you into going for a decent run.
4. Mix it up.
Nothing could be more boring than running the same route at the same speed in the same direction day after day. Talk about kill-me-now! This repetitive routine would be a motivation killer for anyone, so don't feel like a failure. Boredom just means you're ready for the next level.
MY TIP - Visit www.runkeeper.com to pre-plan some new routes and then download the app so you don't get lost. Also try sprinting for 30 seconds every 5 minutes to build up some serious quad muscles. Another quick fix is to run your regular route in reverse. If your regular route is off-camber this change of direction will help balance out your body.
5. Have a rest week.
If you've been doing great for a couple weeks but are suddenly feel lethargic it's because your body needs a break, not because you are getting sick or losing motivation.
MY TIP - Scale it back for a week and make every run a slow and easy one. Listen to your body - are your joints creaking and your hamstrings so tight you can't touch your toes? YouTube some runner's recovery yoga to help stretch out the kinks and prevent future injuries from happening. If you're afraid of losing your momentum, keep psyched by pre-planning some killer workouts for the following week, when you'll be back at it and stronger than ever.
There's no time like the present to get started so here's a quick action plan to get you going:
1. Put on your favorite workout clothes.
2. Put in your headphones and turn up the volume.
3. Lace up your sneakers.
4. Dance a little bit (it's a better-for-you warmup than stretching!)
5. Tell yourself you only have to run for one minute!
6. At the end of that one minute ask yourself if you want to keep going. OH YOU DO?!
7. Walk for one minute before running another minute, then repeat UNTIL...
8. When your feeling a little sore, but you could keep going, it's time to stop!
9. Congrats, YOU are officially a runner! Now have a rest and repeat in two days.
If you like these tips please head to Bewildher's facebook page and give this post a thumbs up! I'll be sharing more tips in the weeks to come and Facebook shares with you the type of posts you've liked.
Have your own tips? Post them below! You never know what key piece of advise will inspire someone to run more.
Owner | Designer of Bewildher Fitwear
When you see someone pick-up trash, not their own, you think 'hey that's pretty cool' right?
What if that 'cool' act could be turned into a great cross-training activity? Well it can, I've tried it, and I hope I can inspire you to try it too.
I was driving home one day and while stopped at a red light I observed an old man running down the roadside trail in a rather odd way. He would run, bend down, then continue running at random intervals.
As he came closer it became evident what he was doing. His "run, squat, run" routine was the result of picking up trail trash. He was very clearly not a homeless person, not some bum looking for a meal in the ditches. He was an eldery gentleman, notably a seasoned runner, happily running along picking up garbage as he went.
“THAT is just so cool” I thought to myself "what a fantastic idea."
I was training for a marathon at the time and part of the program included 'easy run days' when all you have to do is plod along at an easy pace for a recommended amount of time. Most running programs have them. They're the perfect kind of scheduled run to bring along a plastic bag and do something good for the planet.
So I did, and I discovered two things.
1. It is FANTASTIC cross-training, especially if you focus on squatting correctly as you pick up the pieces, and to hell with those who would judge you for looking ridiculous, just think "bikini, bikini"...
2. People suck. There is SO MUCH trash on the trails and in the ditches. Who?! Why?! Ugh! WHAT IS WRONG WITH HUMANITY? I didn’t make it beyond the first ditch before my bag was full. FULL. EXPLODING. I couldn't even tie the handles together.
On that note runners (and walkers) I challenge you to become less desensitized to the garbage around you and to do something cool about it. Pick. It. Up.
The world can be changed when a group of like-minded people take it upon themselves to make a difference. Imagine if a runner picked up one bag of garbage every week during a 16 week training program. That's 16 bags of garbage. Not a small amount. Not a world changing one either.
Now multiply that runner by the 5,000 participants in the last race you ran and that's 80,000 bags of garbage. That's impact. That's making a difference.
It's not realistic to expect every runner to take part, but if I can influence a few and you can influence two more, and so on and so on, together we can make picking up garbage something all the cool runners do.
Please lace up your sneakers, grab that bag and get outside. You honestly never know who will see and become inspired.
Owner | Designer
We've all looked at price tags that make our eyes bulge out. WOAH, that's EXPENSIVE!
Maybe that's what you think when you look at the price of my leggings. Why are they so expensive when H&M's are $20? How can it be that some leggings cost over $100 dollars while others are dirt cheap? Are the higher priced brands taking advantage of their customers?
No. The lower priced brands are taking advantage of their factory workers. The real question we should be asking ourselves is not why some brands cost more, but why other brands don't.
Starting my own clothing company has given me way more insight into the fashion industry than I had as just a designer. Pricing my own products has taught me how grossly UNDER-priced most products are, and who is paying the price for that discount.
If you're like me you learn best when you are given an example, so let's use a pair of leggings that cost a hypothetical one hundred dollars.
Most retail garments are marked up 100%, meaning the wholesale price of the leggings would be fifty dollars and the retail store you bought them from would be making a gross profit of fifty dollars. The actual cost to make the leggings would be around twenty five dollars, if marked up 100%.
So HOLD ON... they only cost twenty five dollars to make and the retail store is pocketing FIFTY DOLLARS? Those scumbags!
Not so fast. Unfortunately, it only sounds like a lot until you start to break it down. That $50 doesn't go very far when you need to pay sales staff, rent, utility bills, maintain fixtures, off-set for leftover inventory and a plethora of other retailer expenses. The average net profit margin for a clothing retailer in Canada is only 4% - 13%. That means the shop owner is personally pocketing a mere $2 - $6.50 per pair. How many would they need to sell, per hour, to make the same wage you do? It's something to think about when deciding whether to buy from a small independent retailer versus a big department store. We hope you'll choose to support more local small business owners.
In another scenario lets say you want to buy the same leggings online, direct from the brands website, but they're still $100. Shouldn't they be cheaper if you're buying direct?
Nope. For one, if the brand were to undercut the retail stores they sold to the retailers wouldn't buy from them again. It just wouldn't be fair. Secondly, it's unlikely the brand is wholesaling the leggings for 100% markup. They've likely taken a hit and are off-setting it by selling at the retail price online. Consumer demand for cheaper and cheaper products are driving prices down and it's the brands themselves who are feeling the pinch.
Brand labels also have to pay for more than just the cost of the product; rent, utility bills, employees, advertising and sale samples are just a few of their many operating expenses.
When all is said and done, the average net profit for a clothing brand in Canada, that is doing well, is only 5-7%.
I say doing well because it takes a new brand 3 - 5 years on average to start seeing a profit. How old is the brand you're buying from? Can you assume they're making money yet?
Now let's break down the twenty five dollars it costs to actually make the leggings. Where does that go?
It has to cover the cost of fabric, any trims and graphic prints and of course to pay the people who physically made them.
About $12 will go towards the wages of the people who made the leggings - the fabric cutter, the sewers and the person who ironed them and put them in a box. It also needs to cover the maintenance of their machinery and the overhead of the factory including their utility bills etc etc. $12 doesn't seem like enough, does it?
It's not. That's why most factory employees work for minimum wage and factories operate assembly line style, with sewers pumping out 1000's of the same thing as quickly as they can. How much would someone have to pay you to sit in a loud room with no windows and do the same thing a thousand times a day? Honestly, you couldn't pay me enough. I would pay every cent that I have not to.
Have you ever been in a clothing factory? The factories in Vancouver are "nice" compared to the factories overseas, like comparing a McDonalds in an upscale neighborhood to a McDonalds on the lower east side. In Vancouver the workers make the minimum wage of $10.85 per hour, which is considered "fair."
Personally, I have a hard time thinking of the minimum wage as fair when it's still well below the poverty line. And this is for a pair of $100 leggings that were made in Canada.
What about the clothing that's 'made in China' and sold for $20 at H&M? A $20 retail price means $10 at wholesale and around $5 to make.
Just FIVE DOLLARS to pay for the fabric, the trims and the sewers. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? It's possible by using cheap fabrics that fall apart in the wash and by paying very low wages to the workers. Factory wages in China are estimated around $0.50 - $3 US per hour.
Compare THAT to the wage someone would have to pay you to work in similar conditions.
The real kicker is that Chinese wages are considered too high by many large brands and these brands are moving their productions to cheaper countries like Indonesia and the Phillipines. Isn't that mind blowing and heartbreaking at the same time?
In closing, the obvious question is what can you do about it.
As a consumer you can do a few things;
- Shop local small business instead of with big department stores.
- Read garment labels and try to purchase garments made in Canada or USA, where the minimum wage and working conditions are controlled.
- Research the factory conditions and wages of the brands you buy from.
As the owner of Bewildher I have made the commitment to only build products in factories that I have personally toured and know the working conditions to be safe and the wages to be 'fair'. For now that means everything is made in Vancouver.
My next mission is to figure out how to pay the sewers more, so they can make a wage that is on par with the poverty line. In Vancouver the poverty line is $12 per hour. I am hoping to build the additional cost into the price of the garments and see to it that it goes directly to the sewers wages.
It will be like asking you to give up a fancy coffee in order to know that the person who sewed your leggings is being adequately paid. Doesn't that perk you up more than coffee anyways?
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this topic as it is one I am truly passionate about. Leave a comment below or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Owner | Designer
As some of you will remember, the brand started as "Pokosha Clothing" in 2014, by myself (Nadine) and a business partner.
Armed with a design and development background, a childhood dream to have my own clothing line and absolutely zero business experience, Pokosha Clothing launched with three hundred units of crazy printed catsuits and no real plan for how to sell them.
My business partner and I learned the hard way that this was a really bad idea.
Because business is HARD! Like so hard.
Like don't EVER quit your day job to start a business just because you want flexible hours and more money hard. You'll be trading in a job that pays you and gives you evenings and weekends off for a job that doesn't pay you anything while you work every waking hour and most nights in your sleep.
Sure working from home in your pajamas and loving what you do has it perks, and projecting millions of sales can be pretty fun too, but failure to get funding, hidden expenses you can't afford and EVERYTHING going wrong at once can quickly put a damper on things.
There was such a time last summer when I thought I was going to have to close up shop.
My business partner wanted out - I don't blame her, times were tough - and with ownership in limbo I couldn't see a way to continue. I was broke and needed financing that I couldn't get in time. It was down to the wire and I was facing no choice but to cancel my fall production and shut down the business.
"What will you call the next one?" a friend asked me.
Feeling like my world was ending, I hadn't even considered the possibility of trying again. My friend was right though, I have wanted my own clothing line since I was little, it's not like I was going to bury that dream just because my first attempt didn't work out.
"I don't know" I replied, and that night I started to brainstorm while watching the movie Wild. I've always loved the word "wild," mostly because it's something I long to be. In the wild. Running wild. Wild & free.
My motivation to start a fitness brand has been as much about inspiring myself as it has been about inspiring other people. It's a way to create the life I want to lead. I want to be active, run races, play in the mountains, go to festivals and be inspired on a daily basis to live well, love myself, laugh loud and feel joy.
Why not choose a brand name that would inspire me to be who I want to be most? I want to be wild.
Now for obvious reasons I couldn't just call my next brand Wild, not in the day and age when every social media handle is taken and #wild_12345 isn't going to work, so I busted out a bottle of wine bottle and a thesaurus and started playing with words.
Straight away the word bewilder stood out to me. It was perfect. It had the double connotation of meaning to confuse people, like my kale pants sometimes do, and being more wild. Get it?! I am so clever! And a bit of a dork...
I searched facebook and instagram and found that bewilder was already taken on both.
Oh well, at least I was having a fun evening with my wine and thesaurus. Given that my current company seemed destined for the "most businesses fail in the first 5 years" statistic I was doing a lot better than crying in the shower.
The next time I saw my friend I told her about my night of practicing resilience.
"I love the name Bewilder, but the social media handles are already taken so it's a bad idea."
"Bewilder... or be-wild-her?" She asked me.
And there it was.
Have you ever read the book God Never Blinks? It's a super cheesy fantastic bathroom reader full of "50 lessons for life's little detours." I am not religious in any way, but it's easy to skip past those bits and focus on the moral of the stories. One of them has always stuck with me. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. I do this now as a habit and it has served me well.
I was mentally prepared for the worst, losing my business, but in the end with true grit and determination I was able to hold on and didn't need the new name.
But I LOVED the new name. The irony!
Well it turns out re-branding isn't that big of a deal, just some lawyer fees and a very long to-do list of everything you need to update (it took FOREVER!)
I've learned that choosing a business name is like getting a tattoo. You are going to have to look at it every single day, therefore you need to love it. You'll also have to explain it time and time again, so it needs to be something you can explain a billion times without losing the passion in your voice.
Most importantly it needs to inspire you to keep going, because small business is tough, but guess what readers? SO AM I.
Be wild her.
Yes, I will be.
Owner | Designer
It is so ridiculously easy to latch onto an idea that sounds good and roll with it - Trust me, I would know.
"You say there's recycled plastic bottles in my leggings? Sweeeeeeet gimme some of them do-gooder pants!"
And off I go believing my leggings are going to change the world - and that I am awesome for wearing them.
I roll on blindly satisfied with myself "Hey, did you know my pants are made from recycled plastic bottles?" I state more than ask to friends at a party. Smiling smugly I wait for fan-praise.
Instead the token smartass pipes up.
"Yah... but what about the process to change the bottles into fabric? Wouldn’t there be a lot of chemicals involved to break them down?" pipes up the token smart-ass.
Why oh why does there have to be one in every group? Secretly I love these people, the way they make me check myself and go searching for answers to their annoyingly smart questions, because I honestly have no bleeping idea how to answer their question. I don't know.
How do hard plastic bottles = soft and supple leggings?
It becomes apparent I had missed a few steps in concluding the environmental goodness of my pants, such as…
- HOW DO I KNOW THERE’S TRULY RECYCLED BOTTLES IN MY LEGGINGS?
- IS THE PROCESS TRULY "ECO-FRIENDLIER" AND MORE ETHICAL?
- IS 100% RECYCLED THE "ECO-FRIENDLIEST"?
Full disclosure: I am not a professional writer. If finding spelling and grammar mistakes in this article will give you anxiety, please read with a cup of tea and a nail file close at hand.
- HOW DO I KNOW THERE’S TRULY RECYCLED BOTTLES IN MY PANTS?
This is a big question, and the answer is there may not be.
The industry has become so profitable that some suppliers are making new plastic bottles just to recycle them. Woah, wtf?!
Textile mills (fabric-making-companies) can claim to use polyester made from recycled plastic bottles, but they may have no idea. Polyester suppliers could be selling textiles mills any blend of fibers from new plastic bottles to just new polyester under the false claim that it’s recycled.
In your research on this topic you may frequently come across the acronym PET. PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, otherwise known as polyester. There's no test so you can forget the big name, just know that plastic bottles labelled with the #1 have the same chemistry make-up as polyester.
Okay so now you need to know about GRS, aka the Global Recycling Standard.
"GRS provides a traceable tracking system that ensures that any claims that a fabric is made from recycled polyester can be officially backed up."
There are three levels of GRS certification, bronze, silver and gold, based on the percentage of recycled content. Gold is over 95% and bronze has at least 30%.
REPREVE is the name of one company that has achieved the GRS gold level certification. REPREVE turns recycled plastic bottles into smaller fibers that can be spun into yarns used by textile mills to create fabric.
REPREVE = 95 - 100% certified recycled content
By looking for products that say REPREVE on the hangtag, you can know that you are buying something made from the highest content of certified recycled plastic bottles.
- IS THE PROCESS TRULY MORE ECO-FRIENDLY AND ETHICAL?
It depends. As part of the GRS certification process, they ensure the following:
- That there is a water treatment system in place,
- That no toxic additives are used as process chemicals, and no harmful finishes are added to the fabric
- That workers have basic rights.
So yes, if the clothing brand is using material with a GRS certification, it is likely more eco-friendly and ethical.
REPREVE, a GRS gold level certified company, totes the following facts on their website;
630 million - total number of bottles they have recycled
3.8 million - gallons of gasoline their processes have saved
52,313 people - water saved could supply drinking water to this many for one year
2,943 acres - amount of pine forest saved
The above numbers are comparing recycled polyester to new polyester
These numbers were "determined by an independent firm using life cycle inventory (LCA) of the full manufacturing process compared against the same process for virgin fiber. Gas, water per person and pine forest numbers are based on the equivalency information sourced primarily from the EPA."
EPA = US Environmental Protection Agency.
- IS 100% RECYCLED THE ECO-FRIENDLIEST?
Trick question and the answer is not really.
50% is the maximum content of recycled polyester that can be used in fabric before the quality of the fabric becomes compromised.
Fabrics made from 100% recycled polyester are not as high quality as fabrics made from a blend of recycled and non-recycled.
This is because the quality of recycled polyester fibers is less consistent than the quality of non-recycled polyester fibers, due to inconsistencies in the plastic bottles being recycled. Using too much recycled polyester can result in fabric with more flaws and a shorter lifespan, ie; it will end up in a landfill faster.
Let's breakdown the product care labels for better understanding:
If the care label says: 100% recycled polyester
- This could be true if the company is using GRS gold level certified material. Otherwise it's likely on a sliding scale of less true to not true at all.
- There was likely more fabric wastage during production. Fabric wastage = fabric that can't be used during manufacturing and is thus thrown away. Often there is wastage due to flaws in the fabric such as holes and snags. These flaws are more common in fabrics made from 100% recycled polyester than fabrics made from a lesser content of recycled material.
- The product may have a shorter lifespan. Fabric made from 100% recycled polyester is likely to breakdown faster, due to fiber inconsistencies. The result is a garment more prone to forming holes and snags.
If the care label says: 50% polyester / 50% recycled polyester
- This means they are claiming that 50% of the polyester fibers used were derived from 100% recycled plastic bottles. "50% of the time I am 100% correct!"
- These percentages could be true if the recycled content is GRS gold level certified. If not, then the product likely has less recycled content than it is claiming. Perhaps none at all.
- If the recycled content is GRS gold level certified then this product is the ideal balance of recycled vs non-recycled material, meaning that the fabric used is as eco-friendly and ethical as it can be without compromising quality.
THIS IS THE RECAP:
- HOW DO I KNOW THERE’S TRULY RECYCLED BOTTLES IN MY PANTS?
- Some are not recycled at all. Company's that want to prove their source can seek GRS certification (Global Recycling Standard)
- If the company is using GRS Gold level certified material, then 95 - 100% of the recycled polyester content is proven to be made from genuine recycled plastic bottles.
- REPREVE is the brand name of one company with GRS Gold level certification. Look for it on the products hangtag!
- IS THE PROCESS TRULY MORE ECO-FRIENDLY AND ETHICAL?
- If the product is made from REPREVE or other GRS certified material then it is most likely more eco-friendly and ethical than it's non-recycled or non-certified equivalent.
- IS 100% RECYCLED THE ECO-FRIENDLIEST?
- Studies have shown that the recycled content should not exceed 50%. Using more than 50% recycled polyester results in poorer fabric quality, ie; the fabric is more prone to holes, snagging and ultimately breaking down faster. This means more fabric is wasted during manufacturing and the end-product may end up in a landfill sooner. Defeating the entire point.
For those of you satisfied to stop here, I hope you feel full of world changing knowledge and an eagerness to buy smarter.
For those of you just getting warmed up or left with more questions than answers, you can start by following the links below: