Deciding on what brands to purchase from goes hand in hand with feeling confident in the integrity of their manufacturing. Before I opened Adored Boutique, I learned some hard lessons about this. Over the last 3 years, have worked to refine my approach with every lesson learned.
Don't get me wrong, I am not a perfect surveyor of all fashion fair or not fair, but, I have learned some valuable things in the process and believe that if you are just starting out, or already in deep with fair fashion, that sharing my lessons learned may help you in your journey!
This blog is intended to give you a big picture view of how I decision make about where to buy product. For details on each step, see our subsequent blogs posted over the coming weeks.
Assess the style and price point of the brand products.
Are they even in the world of my DNA that it’s worth pursuing? Because, let's be real, life is busy and small business is hard. So, if it doesn't match my DNA or I think I won't be able to sell it in my community, I move on quickly!
If the product has potential, I continue on in the search for more information.
Research the brand.
On a regular basis, I am told about or happen upon a brand that by initial blush appears to be in alignment with the DNA of Adored Boutique. As I pursue learning about those brands, I draw from my years of experience and am fully aware of the sucker punch of emotion that may be facing me on their website.
What do I mean by "sucker punch"? The story. The story of why they have a business with purpose, why they started their business and the population of vulnerable people they help with the giving back through their business. That's the sucker punch. It's the one that distracts so many of us from asking the question, "Ya, but, what about the people who actually make your products? How do you empower them?"
One of the things I have learned is that I cannot take anything at face value. So, I am no longer initially motivated by those amazing stories. I must be able to see past all that and identify what their ethics are in regards to their manufacturing.
Don't get me wrong - I love a company that gives back! It's amazing. Keep doing it. I am just not willing to compromise my integrity as a fair fashion brand for a vendor who is aligning themselves with that language disingenuously.
So, back to step two ... Do they talk about their manufacturing and what kind of details do they offer me? How are they celebrating their contribution to fair fashion? How available is this information to me?
If I get this far, then the brand has proven to be consistent, satisfying my expectations and answering the exhausting details of questions I send them.
So, I then place a small order or request samples to make sure the quality, fabric and products meet my expectations in person. I wear their product for awhile, wash it and make a determination about if I want to carry it in the store.
If I am happy with a product, I promote the new brand with the small sample and see how you like them! If you like them and they sell well, I keep ordering from that company. If you don't like them and I am looking at the product for weeks on end, I chalk it up as a "fail", ask some of you some questions about it so I can learn and I may or may not order from that product line again. If it's just the price point, or the style, then I may try again. If it seems to be more of a quality issue, I generally do not as quality issues are usually systemic in a brand.
For more information and a detailed description of these stages, be sure to follow our upcoming blogs on the subject!