This is a question we were confronted with last year. It began as a little whisper in the back of our minds, but demanded our attention while we were in New York, surrounded by smog and rubbish (no disrespect NYC) while attending a climate strike. The conversation was profound, and went a little something like this:
“Shit, do you think we need to close TWOOBS?”
“Yeah…. I dunno…. maybe”
We started out in this shoe game in 2016 – vegan, fashionable, affordable footwear was our mission, and mission we did. We’re the first ones to tell you that in those early days we knew absolutely zero about running a shoe brand, but what we lacked in knowledge we made up for in enthusiasm and stubbornness… uh, we mean determination.
A couple of years down the track, our collaboration with Gorman launched and went totally ba-nay-nays, a real turning point for the brand, when our production numbers started to swell, and we got picked up by some key Aussie retailers – some serious pinch us moments. It was around this time that we started to really reflect on the company’s environmental impact.
You see, to put it plainly, we care about shit. We care about animals. We care about people. And subsequently we really care about the environment that said animals and people need in order to live joyful, nourishing and healthy lives.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s not like at this point we were doing nothing. We were aware that vegan materials can have a much softer impact on the environment than leather (shout out to our cow friends, we love you!) and we were making little tweaks to product and packaging where we could. But like most fashion brands, we were very much in the box, not yet thinking outside of it.
We started to educate ourselves, and learned some gross facts, like:
- 20 billion shoes are produced each year
- 300 million pairs end up in landfill annually
- The average American buys 8 pairs of shoes per year
So we’re in NYC, with our new found footwear facts and all the rubbish, and the whisper had transformed into full on alarm bells. Yep, we need to close TWOOBS. And we genuinely sat with what that would look like for a while – saying goodbye to our staff, parting ways with our suppliers, becoming these badass environmental activists that used their story of closing to inspire.
Many questions came up, but one gave us pause: While closing would no doubt be badass and inspire some, would it really inspire most? And the answer we came to is: no, it wouldn’t.
You see, we don’t feel we can just expect all businesses to close tomorrow, and we don’t necessarily think we want them to. Businesses have the power to influence and create incredible change, and we deeply believe that in order to secure a brighter future for those animals and humans we love so damn much, they are going to need to play their part. That part involves rapidly moving from ‘me’ to ‘we’, and valuing people, planet and profit equally.
So our conclusion? If we can truly embody these principals through TWOOBS, be the change we want to see created, we will inspire most… if not all.
To be honest, closing probably would’ve been easier. Figuring out how to make fashion and sustainability best friends is really hard. But like our queen Glennon Doyle says: we can do hard things.
Welcome to TWOOBS 2.0.
Jess & Stef, TWOOBS Founders