When the road ahead is water.
I’m back home from a roadtrip to the southwest coast of Denmark, Vadehavet, where the tides are strong and the ocean is salt. I’ve been reading, knitting, picking seashells on the beach with the kids, and I’ve been off social media. I like to imagine I have decent control of my social media habits, not checking the apps before breakfast or after the kids’ bedtime, but being completely away from the world of Instagram and Facebook left me feeling more in tune with my own mind and wishes than I thought it would. It poses the question on how to make the most of this double edged sword without losing my footing in a steady stream of others’ seemingly more interesting, more peaceful, more fun, more… perfect lives.
Those of you who have been following me for a while know I try hard not to tap into a discourse of telling someone they’re flawed and that buying my products will fix them. This is the base line in so much marketing and it’s hard to avoid, but your outpour of support these past two and a half years have shown that my pieces hold their own, without me using sales tricks or manipulating you (“nudging” as it’s called in an attempt to make it sound more palatable) to buy more than you intended. There are SO many resources and tools to help businesses do just this and it’s spans from web design (did you ever feel like you put something in your cart in a web shop and suddenly checked out before you hardly even knew it..?) to promotions (how often do we buy 2 when we only need (or even want) 1 because the second one comes with a discount?) to aggressive sales pitching (“This offer won’t last, get it before it’s completely out of stock forever!!!”). I wish there were as many resources on how to be a sustainable, ethical, accountable and long-lasting company. And when I say sustainable I don’t mean it in the sense of slapping on some half-assed “certification” but sustainable for all parties included. Sustainable for the maker(s), for the environment and for the customer.
Sustainable for the environment is the “easy” one, the one I think most think about when a company talks about sustainability. In my little part of the making world this means trying to make sure my making infers as little as possible with my daughter’s, and all children’s, chances of walking freely on the bottom of the sea when the tide is low. This picture is from the North sea where there aren’t tons of plastic or oil spill covering the beaches, but I know very well that this beach more and more looks like an exception on a global scale. So, when I create I use as much recycled materials as possible. 100 % of the gold I use is 100 % recycled, and the main portion of the silver too. Even the silver that doesn’t come with a 100 % recycled guarantee from the supplier (the chains and lobster clasps) is in large recycled, simply because that’s cheaper for the supplier. I wish it was because more companies demanded no new silver is mined by child labour and toxic processes, but at least it’s something… Everything I use to send your packages is partly or fully recycled and recyclable, with the white soft padding in the jewellery boxes as the only exception. This material is fully recycled but can’t be composted or recycled - it is however a material that, just as the tissue paper, is made to not tarnish your jewellery as it finds its way to you.
Sustainable for you as a customer means what I said above - that it is not my wish to “nudge” you into buying more and more and more. I know many of you come from the babywearing world where it for a long time was almost impossible to “score” anything during a release and wraps were resold at many times the retail value. I was part of this, but in hindsight, I also consider myself lucky. Privileged enough to have the financial situation to indulge in this hobby of course, but also lucky because I could always use (and also, stopped using) the terms “wrap addict”, “release junkie” or “score high” as a joke. My family history is riddled with addiction and even though exclusive baby items can’t be compared in any physical sense to drugs, the function in the brain, as well as the possible outcome, is much the same. I saw families torn apart over this addiction to buying the newest, latest, most exclusive wrap. I saw women and families financially ruined by it. I don’t think the wrap world took this seriously enough at the time and I’m glad it’s different now, but it made me realise with crystal clarity that this was not something I wanted for my own customers. I don’t want to sell things that someone buy because it’s the hype, and that will leave them feel empty and sort of robbed when the first kick passed. I do have shop openings, with the stress and thrill to them, because that is by far the most practical setup for me right now, but I also always accept requests to put things aside or remake something that sold out too fast. It might take a little more time but it is my honest wish that you, my customers and persons I rely on as a business, can buy the things you want when you’ve thought it through and when it’s a good time for you, financially or in life - not when I decide it’s time for you to set your alarms and chase my creations, or to see something unexpectedly pop up in the web shop and have the stress of buying it now or miss out forever. Nothing good gets away. I will keep saying this and believing this.
Sustainability for me as a maker is a little more invisible to you, maybe, but it’s something I give a lot of thought. The basic question is, I guess, what is the meaning of this life? We have only one, and it’s so short and it can end at any moment. In my business, I also strive to make time for… the inbetween things. The pauses and breaks and things that are only for me, me, me. This is HARD, let me tell you as much. I realise the pressure I put on myself to do it all at the same time - be the perfect, present mother, the hardworking librarian and educator, and the creative firework that keeps on putting out new designs, attracting new customers, keeping returning customers. And, it’s impossible. I write this just as much for me as for you because we have to take this pressure away from ourselves, and each other. My way of trying to do this is simply by living it. I refuse to put in 12 hours of work a day to feel accomplished. I am just as accomplished if I sit around a whole day watching Netflix, strumming my badly tuned guitar, and eating Nutella by the spoonful. And you are too. So, that’s why things aren’t moving as fast as they could here. I could work many more hours every day, but I won’t. This also means I live in a big old messy house with stained furniture from flea markets and yard sales (to which my kids’ friends say “Uuuh, is that the sofa”, and yes I DO cringe but it’s okay anyway) and don’t have a shopping post in my monthly budget. Because we CAN do anything. But we can’t do everything. Not at once. And we all have different motivations and dreams and ideals, and I want there to be space, so much space, for mine AND for yours. This is how me move on, one little step at a time. When the road ahead is water.