Before I started my business, I didn't think too much about the cost of the things I bought. All I thought about was if something felt expensive or cheap and whether I was willing to pay for the price of an item.
Then in 2014 I watched the documentary The True Cost, which flipped everything on its head for me. It made me consider the $10 t-shirt at Target or H&M or Old Navy...if these companies are making billions of dollars a year in revenue, why are the people who make their products living on less than $2 a day?
Let's breakdown the cost of a product. The main costs to make a product are made up of the cost of materials, the cost of labor, any overhead in a workshop or factory, and the cost to transport the product to where it will be sold. Then the selling company works in a margin for their own business costs - things like marketing, labor, rent, packaging, etc. So if we use the $10 t-shirt as an example, it becomes easy to see that the margin for the women and men who make the product gets completely squeezed. And for what? So big business can make billions? So we can have more clothes in our already stuffed closets?
It seems like there has to be a better way, right?
When I started my business, I decided I wanted to price my products for exactly what they are worth from the start, only building in absolutely necessary margins to stay in business.
To this day, I don't run sales or have a sale section as part of my sales strategy like most retailers do. On top of it just not being in our margins to run frequent sales, as a consumer, sales stress me out. It makes me feel a heightened sense of urgency to buy now rather than when I need something. I don't want our customers to feel that way.
I also want us to stop and consider what something is worth. The term luxury in fashion is often reserved for items embossed with names like Chanel or Hermes. But to me, luxury is being able to contribute to an economy that values people and caring for our planet over profit both as a consumer and as a business.
Next time you're in the market to buy a new t-shirt, consider the cost. You might find the one that costs $10 actually costs much more than you once thought.