So it’s March 1st 2020 (ahhh simpler times), and we’re having a meeting about our spring/summer collection for the end of the year. The whole team is oooing and ahhing over the trims and frills and all the latest on-trend colours, excitedly picking which will be the best sellers and which ones influencers will be posing poolside in Mykonos with come July.
Fast forward to the end of May, and we’re sitting on a Zoom call in our homes & in pyjamas from the waist down, confirming our decision to cancel the entire 22-piece order. No one is sure of anything anymore, except one thing is clear: nobody is going to Mykonos. So… what happened in those 3 months?
Well firstly there was COVID, duh, and the Black Lives Matter movement was finally gaining the attention it so deserves, plus Mercury was basically going to be in retrograde for all of eternity. But while our Co-Star app was telling us to hold off on making big decisions until the sun shifted out of Gemini, something bigger was stirring inside of us, and it wasn’t (only) a pull to make a TikTok account: it was a call to go sustainable.
We’d known it was a direction we wanted to go in for about a year already, and we’d slowly been taking baby steps towards the goal. But we were caught up in the day-to-day of solid sales from customers loving our offering, and stockists pushing for more and more trend-driven styles. But then, like it had been planned by Mother Earth and Greta Thunberg themselves, 2020 hit a pause button on orders from retailers and tumbleweeds blew across our website, making it glaringly obvious to us that now was the time.
After doing some research, we realised that in order to make the switch immediately there were a few changes we could implement for the coming season:
- Cutting down the amount of styles we were ordering to avoid waste (particularly given the uncertainty of sales in 2020).
- Switching to materials made from recycled stuff, which was only available in Lycra and not our leather-look styles.
- Ditching the trims, frills, jewels, and other “fun bits” that couldn’t be sourced from recycled materials, and couldn’t be recycled.
So only 5 months later, today we’ve launched a carefully curated 8-piece collection, with Lycra made from 88% recycled plastics and yarns (the highest % available for these materials). It’s a first step for us on a long road that is going to see a whole lot more sustainability practices come into our business, and a whole lot more fashion and fun styles to come later next year.
We know that not everyone is going to be happy with the decision, and the people-pleasers within us have slowly died a little bit inside every time today we’ve received an email or a comment on Instagram from a customer asking where the rest of our collection is.
But we’ve realised one important lesson through all of this: that in order to be a kind business and stand by our values, we are going to have to make tough decisions. That in order to put purpose before profit, we are in fact going to lose some of our profit for the sake of our purpose. And it’s going to sting a little at times. But it’s also going to make a big difference in the world, and that feels seriously bloody great.
Jess & Stef, TWOOBS Founders