The way clothing affects us is so interesting it even has a scientific name: “enclothed cognition”. This is the idea that clothes impact the way we think and that the clothes we wear or see others wearing can change our thoughts and behavioural patterns.
But it comes at a cost.
Black Friday is in just over a week and amongst all the websites and stores doing their countdown for big sales I sit here in my office holding a pair of GNGR Bees in my hand and journeying back to the very start of this brand.
GNGR Bees was born of the dual passions I have for women empowerment as well as for saving our planet. It was born with a purpose that was so much bigger than having endless collections to sell over and over and over again until you (my customers) couldn’t find any more drawers to stuff activewear in. In fact, I have decided that the only way fashion can exist hand-in-hand with the environment is by through immediate and drastic disruption.
Disruption of our relationship with consumption and our seemingly insatiable hunger to buy, buy & buy. Disruption of that conditioned pattern of behaviours where we purchase clothing already mindful of the purchase that will follow or knowing that the garment will be out of season in a matter of months and will then be replaced. An endless cycle of buy-wear-dispose, which, all too sadly, we have become accustomed to repeating season after season and year after year.
On a phone call with my mother today, she asked me how much of a discount I would be offering this holiday season. I said none. She couldn’t understand, “everyone is expecting it”. My answer was simply that my customers don’t. My customers understand that every penny that comes through my business has a purpose. That it leaves GNGR Bees as quickly as it arrives to fulfil that purpose. That purpose may be to pay our community partners in Sri Lanka or Rwanda (or the for now secret one I have just taken on board) or spent in R&D as we work on finding new ways to improve our ability to rescue (and re-rescue!) materials.
Everything (and I mean this when I say it), every thing has a purpose here at GNGR Bees. So discounting a piece that has had so much love put into it and carries a story which we are proud of would only serve to take away something from the purposes that are the very essence of GNGR.
When you buy GNGR Bees, you are telling a story that goes beyond words. It is a statement you make with your wardrobe, so why diminish this just to get a “good deal”? We often forget that these “deals” come at a cost of the environment and the people that have made the garments for brands that don’t advocate for a sustainable and kind future. Sure you feel good, but it is one-sided, somewhere someone or something pays the price.
And so, this holiday season, and the many that are to come, GNGR Bees will not be having a sale. If you wear GNGR then this is what you already know:
1. GNGR Bees is not a fast fashion brand. We like things slow, made out of materials that have been rescued and transformed into products that are safe, with quality and comfortable to wear.
2. There are no seasons in our calendar. Everything you see at GNGR Bees is built to be worn any time of the year and also mixes and matches with previous collections and future collections.
3. We believe value should be provided every day, not only a few days over the year. Our profits support our partner communities so we are able to keep developing projects together and embracing more partners and empowering more people that do good in this planet. People who wear GNGR Bees don’t believe in discounting the good they do.
4. We are different. Born to empower and disrupt on our way through - following big fashion trends and concentrating on a few dates of the year such as Black Friday, Singles day, Cyber Monday and Boxing day provokes mindless consumerism, and that isn’t what we want for the world of today nor for the world that we will pass on to our children.
On that note, I’d like to say thank you to all of you who constantly support me and my business. To those that see the brand for what it is and what it is striving to achieve.
Know that there are very exciting plans for the future but nothing happens without your support today. So thank you.
Every year, around 660,000 businesses are registered in the UK. Entrepreneurs are finding opportunities and bringing products into the market to make profit and be the next industry leader. In a world where social media dictates trends for likes, it is hard to know where to start. Markets are saturated, and the consumer wants to find the best deal compromising the fine line of product quality and pricing. Opening a business isn’t easy. It requires time, effort and a lot more things no one tells you but you are sure to find out along the way. So here is what I have learned - so far - on my own journey of self employment. Now, mind you, I never saw myself having my own business. My parents have had their own company for the last 15 years and I saw them work through sleepless nights, push through barriers and crawl, walk and run a business as I was growing up. One of the first things I have learned opening GNGR bees is that when you are truly passionate about what you do, your business is your baby.
It comes first and foremost and as you see it grow, the sense of proudness and accomplishment for having nursed it, watched its first steps and then seeing it soar through the market with the freedom it has earned is beautiful and there is nothing truly like it — perhaps, really, only having your *REAL* baby!! As a one (super) woman run business, I have had to learn and do everything myself. I was taught by my mother that if you do not know how to do something, you won’t be able to tell others how to do it - and so, as the determined, stubborn Aries I am, I studied & researched every step of my supply chain & how to add value to it and this is the second most important thing I have learned.
Yes - I say second because - as you may find out - running a business is full of lessons, but they don’t always come in a timely, organised order. You make mistakes, learn from them, adapt the process, make it better and suddenly hey! it is time to adapt again (and that is equally as important: adaptation).
The first most important thing I have learned though, is that if there isn’t a TRUE meaning behind your business, then it should probably not exist. “Wait, what? Maybe that is a little bit harsh”. No, it isn’t. We live in a world where the biggest problem we have is over production to resolve the over consumption psychology people like you and me have. We have been conditioned as such for years and years to profit the different currently existing industries and that has led to the many issues we are trapped in today. Climate crisis doesn’t originate from plastics, waste and an excessive amount of bred animals for food - it does from our demand of these very products. Our over demand and thus over producing to supply.
Your job as an entrepreneur is not simply to bring a new product to the market. It is to solve a current existing problem - and in the world of today, I dare say, there are many. So lesson number one: Marry your passion to a problem, and then solve it with your business. That is, the single most important lesson I have learned, and where you should always start.
And since we have gotten into passion - the driver of many extraordinary things - I must say, as clear as I can, that you should never be afraid of being passionate. Love drives the world. It makes us wake up every day and feel motivated and inspired to do anything we set our minds to. Passion does the same for a business as love does for a lover. It nurtures it, drives it and gains the admiration of many. By being passionate, and by transferring it through your supply chain, your partners, suppliers, employees and investors will see the vision and the commitment of what you have started. Speak about it, loud and clear and let people understand why they should love your business as much as you do.
On that note, the next thing I have learned is that the worst thing that can happen is that someone may say no. Though scary sometimes, “no” isn’t really that big of a word. If you thought so, you wouldn’t have gone into the endeavour of setting yourself your own business, would you? People are passionate about different issues and have different interests and hobbies, but unsurprisingly, there are a lot of people out there just like you (and this is why again it is so important to speak out loud about your business!) and they will want to hear about what you do. So if you are thinking of sharing your business with media and press - don’t be afraid. The worst thing that can happen is that they will say it isn’t the moment or they are not interested but by putting your business out there, you will encounter endless possibilities of partnerships, project making, visibility and so on. Creating a business is easy. Anyone can do it. However creating a business that goes beyond a product is the real challenge. Having a product only is like having a body without a soul, a range without a brand and all of the values that are attached to it and what makes your business unique and extraordinary.
To me - problem solving, sustainability, empowerment (for the people I work with, the environment and the animals), honesty and adaptability were the main points that drove me to open a business. Finding a solution to the problems I was passionate about and turning them into a concise brand. The road was long - full of learnings, surprises and challenges but it was well worth it. My passion drove me to solve the problem, research & learn about the market, the people and the materials I work with, adapt my business to what it needed to do in order to resolve the issues I had identified and to speak about what I have created to inspire people just like you to do the same. The product, is the outcome of all of these.
My map of learned lessons (in a less twisted way!!) would be:
- Identify your passion (it drives the world!!)
- Marry your passion to a currently existing problem
- Give your business a soul by creating a brand, not just a product
- Find out how your product can benefit more than just your end consumer
- Learn every aspect of your business and when you have enough knowledge, outsource the task at hand combining what you already know with the expertise and execution a new professional will bring.
- Adapt - constantly. The world is changing more than ever and knowing what you are good at is essential to thrive as a business but adapting it to what is currently happening around you is just as important.
- Speak out loud about the things that set your soul on fire and don’t be afraid of rejection (ever). Be bold.
- Be true to what you believe in, honest to your consumer, empowering to the people you work with and sustainable for the world.