At the Shift launch party Friday, November 6th
For all the eco there is, it still isn’t easy being green.
I say that knowing this will change, but I needed only to open my own sustainable boutique to discover, “Houston, we have problems.”
My background is such that I write, market, sell and do coaching with and for designers who seek to prove they are just as good as any other designer doing forward fashion out there. That’s been great for many years.
The tables sure turned when I started my own shop, Shift, and I had to buy from them: I wanted things like reclaimed or organic silks, prints and the ever elusive non-skinny pant.
How about color from water-based dyes?
How about knits that are affordable?
The pieces of my boutique’s puzzle are slowly coming together to form a whole. But, here are a few things I found out along the way that has made living the eco-entrepreneur life very challenging:
A tired Amy DuFault ringing in the eco-goods at the launch party
There’s not much patterned fabric out there at an affordable price. If it’s out there, it’s typically very expensive. A few designers I spoke with said they can’t all buy the same print because they want to be creating different pieces from each other (but of course).
Thanks to a lack of demand for the small amount of sustainably printed fabrics out there, suppliers simply choose not to offer many. Think about that the next time you hit the local eco-boutique and you see all solids and heavy accessories buying.
I have a new appreciation for all my eco-boutique buying comrades out there.
In a perfect world, we could all buy chunky sweaters and luscious scarves at digestible prices. The handful of knit designers out there I love, like Lars Anderson and Souchi, ring in at different price-points that seem fair to me – but what will the shoppers tell me when they’re confronted with the tag? Well, on Cape Cod in the winter, they’re going to tell me plenty.
The knits ring in at a higher price point ($250 and up) because the designer often contracts locals, pays them a fair wage, finds pesticide free yarns and so on. $19.99 does come at a price, just one that consumers don’t see.
The last thing I want to be guilty of is using standard paints, virgin-paper business cards and bags, incandescent bulbs or anything, frankly, brand new. Being eco through and through means even the building has got to be green.
Thanks to a local carpenter/artist designing a wall unit and dressing rooms from reclaimed wood, and a steady influx of consignment furniture from a local eco-home store, we got there!
Recycled PET plastic hangers? Check.
Dress forms off Ebay? Check.
Recycling bins? Check.
Vintage mirrors and merchandising accessories? Check check!
Goodness, by the time all is said and done, my business partner and I will be running a green business initiative making other businesses on Cape Cod comply with a green certification. (For real. We’ve just been hired.)
And thanks to undergoing my own “greening” I will feel no sympathy.
This is all so worth it. Moreover, despite the challenges, it’s doable. The more we all support the people willing to conserve energy, reuse materials and be part of the solution when it comes to lightening their carbon footprint, the better people we will be.
At the very least, we’ll have some nice sweaters.