Squarespace Blog / "charity"

Swinger Sunday - Sometimes being GREEN sucks!

I was so excited to be asked to guest blog for Amber! Well, until I had to think about what to write, that is. RockerByeBaby is all cool and edgy and Amber has cool and edgy friends that do cool things.
I’m just a treehugging law school geek! I have no kids and nothing fun to write about!
But then I just asked myself “What is something you wanted to blog about but can’t on your blog?” And then it hit me: I wanted to write about why being ethical and green really sucks sometimes. So, what follows is the bitter rantings of a pretty square business owner. (: Sort of punky and rockery right?
So--- sometimes being ethical and green all the time sucks!
I own a business that really hangs its hat on being the greenest brand out there. We source organic US-grown cotton to make garments made in the US that are then dyed naturally and printed with waterbased inks. I, personally, have collaborated on some technology that makes our garments easily the most eco-friendly out there. We have our garments sewn by co-ops owned by refugees that are supporting their large families on their work with us. We never cut a single corner on greenness or social responsibility.
Yes, this all sounds great and I sleep easier at night and I love looking people in the eye when I truthfully tell them our supply chain and all that.
BUT what these standards do to my stress levels SUCKS. And sometimes I just want to VENT about it
Jodie, our designer, is a genius. She makes cool stuff. And so she sends me a design I love and I am like “YES!” and then send it to our printer and we can’t get the colors right because of the ec-friendly inks we use. So that is scrapped. Or Jodie and I will want to create a certain product but the co-op that does our work doesn’t have the machinery to handle it. So its scrapped, too. And we want to dye shirts but crunched up bugs and plants can only dye so many colors. So lots of color ideas are scrapped.
Our costs are super high because we are 100% USA made. We donate way over 30% of our profits. We basically donate whatever we have in our bank account. I do this because I feel obligated. I have a business that has a bank account, so I should be helping these people. We grow so so slowly because our margin is small and that margin goes to other people. I’ve never taken a cent from the business personally.
So we go to trade shows and these brands that put the “Organic” sticker on their booth have one garment made from like “organic bamboo” (which is very rare and therefore likely isn’t even organic and bamboo is like... as ecofriendly and polyester, oh, but I digress) and they are dyed in a shade of blue I know uses heavy metals and they are printed with white (which ALWAYS is done using plastic or a toxic wax) and they are acting like they are saving the planet. And I ask where they are made and they smile and say “China  and India of course!” THEN because they have the organic stockers and are super cute and have low prices buyers flock to them. And THEN most buyers look at our pieces, that due to legitimate eco- and socio-constraints are more plain and expensive and the buyers think “Pfft.... no way.”
That SUCKS, right?
So on the weekends, as I chat with friends that are also in the kids industry, I realize how different our lifestyles are. They make blankets and clothing abroad for about $4 each, and wholesale for $40 and retail for $80. They are making draws from their business of over 100k a year and are very well dressed and groomed. They spend their day chatting and designing and paying a large staff and getting massages and going to expensive lunches. I spend my day in dirty jeans with a 8 year old t-shirt getting calls from our sewers that all their kids have the flu and they won’t be in all week and our stuff will be a few weeks late. And then calling retailers to explain. And dealing with sales smaller than similar brands due to our high pricepoint. And dealing with our school in Haiti that has barebones structural support and cash reserves to continue due to the additional people being fed by the rice and beans it stocks. And stressing about the slow progress of our new website because we have no money in our bank account (see previous sentence.) And stressing about how we will pay for our Fall catolog to be printed if I need to send our school in El Salvador a check. And figuring out how to pay Jodie her weight in gold (her worth, basically.) And digging out cans and bottles from public garbage cans to take home and recycle because, well, why did someone throw them in there in the first place?
Being green and ethical SUCKS! It makes me work my ass off all day long just to keep the business moving and grooving and for what? So some kids in Haiti can go to school? So some kids in Texas won’t have to drink water with pesticides? Oh. Uh. Actually, YES.  So I calm down and buckle down and keep doing it.
But sometimes I just need to VENT! So thank you for listening.

Hi guys - its me... i know I mention pretty much, well, all the time... how much i love Kyle... she always amazes me... and this right here... this post is exactly why i wanted to start the Swinger Sunday... a chance for people to vent... spill it all here... get it all off their chest... Kyle asked me if this was too "bitchy" haha... I read it, and said nope, not bitchy at all... thats Kyle. Always working her ass off... Never getting a break... and I now see... not even taking any profits for her hard work. Giving SO much more than she gets... This girl deserves a medal. She is easily the most self-less person i know... every time I think im having a bad day, kyle and I rant on gmail... we usually have a 10 minute "bitch" fest where we freak out about what ridicules thing is going on in the stores... take a deep breath, and move on... But every time, i leave feeling better having had talked to her. Kyle, your amazing. I love you girlie!
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