Wishing you and yours the best for this Holiday Season and a very Happy New Year!
No matter what you celebrate – we wish you health, comfort, and prosperity this holiday season. Season’s Greetings.
– From the team at Shopanthropic
Barely a month ago, renowned Montreal design Andy Thê-Anh announced that he was pulling the plug on his four-year-old label. The reason? His financial backers decided to call it quits and close his Yorkville Boutique, while turning his other location into a liquidation centre to get rid of his leftover stock. With jobs lost and a sale that will be going on for months, this comes as a surprise to many of his followers (including me).
Earlier this year, the line underwent a major rebranding and expansion. However, the company faced serious issues in terms of financial backing. A 46% drop in Spring 2011 could just be one of the reasons that the industry was afraid to back new labels like Thê-Anh. Consequently, the label did not show at either Toronto or Montreal Spring 2011 fashion weeks. With profit margins being very slim in the fashion industry, it’s quite common for new labels to flourish and flounder in a matter of seasons.
While Andy might come back with a new line and his incredible talent, this brings up the question of what it takes to attract an investor’s attention in the fashion world. With such stiff competition and such small profit margins, how do new labels convince an investor to back them? This incident goes to show the plug can be pulled at any time, so we need to think innovatively, while still thinking about the bottom line. Fashion cannot just be fashion – it has to serve a purpose that is more attractive to the public, that differentiates itself from other labels, and that seems more profitable to the investor.
One school of thought is that the fashion industry should not just be looked at through the lens of investing, but through that of impact investing. Impact investing is an investment strategy whereby one seeks not only to maximize financial return but also social good simultaneously. Perhaps the future of fashion is through the lens of sustainability where people/investors are more interested to support fashion that has a social benefit? Thoughts?
In 2008, Canadian registered charities reported $182 Billion in revenue, which was more than an 80% increase since 2000. Since 2008, charitable donations by Canadians have dropped by nearly 1 billion dollars. Canadians are generous. Canadians want to support charities. Yet, with the recent recession, charities are fighting even harder for Canadian dollars.
With some much competition for the Canadian population’s income that is ready to be allocated to charities – should charities be allowed to refuse some organisations in favour of fundraisers that produce them more funds? When raising funds for a cause, you may hear the neighbourhood kid tell you that every dollar counts – is this really true for all charities?
Lately I have noticed a trend that some charities are following – bigger and better in exchange for local or small initiatives. While this may be earning them larger revenues – it makes the task of raising funds for this charity seem more daunting. It makes it seem like there is too much bureaucracy to fundraise at a grassroots level. This brings for the message of how charities expect to grow, if they seem to far removed from the grassroots fundraisers who want to take risks to fundraise and try new things. Risks mean a chance that they could raise a large profit for a charity, however it could also mean they raise a dollar value that is less than the normal funds the charity raises from a campaign.
This brings about the question – where do charities get to draw the line? If someone wants to try to make a difference or support a cause, but may not necessarily have the same financial impact as a nationwide campaign – does this charity have the right to refuse a request to fundraise for them? Does a charity – whose mandate it is to help people and fight for a cause – have a right to refuse help, even if it is a small amount?
Grassroots movements have changed the world – social ideas, legal ideas and equality has spread through this method of advocacy. However, are they inefficient when it comes to raising funds for these same causes? And can we forget that most large philanthropic ventures are a direct resultant of a grassroots movement? The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and any large charity – all started as a small idea.
Do small ideas still have a chance with big charities? Do big charities have the right to refuse aid?
Where do we draw the line?
There is a lot of power in the dollars consumers spend. They call this purchasing power. Individually, this power may be relatively unnoticeable but collectively, this power has a huge impact. Consumer demand – what we choose to spend our money on – dictates what gets produced, what trends stick and alternatively, what doesn’t last on the market shelf. If we support products because they are cheaper – no matter where, how and who makes them – these products stick around. On the other hand, if we use our purchasing power to spend our income on products that are consciously made with consideration to environmental sustainability and people around the world – socially conscious products will stick too.
Social consumerism enables us to help ourselves while helping others. As a customer, by simply purchasing a socially-conscious product (doing your research, checking company claims, buying the product, etc.) you have the chance to better the lives of others and/or conserve the environment. In turn, the artisans and local producers of those resources have the chance to better their lives and supply their products to new markets. Consequently, the lives of people locally and internationally improve, while possibly having the extra bonus of environmental sustainability and raising funds for a good cause.
That being said, corporations and social causes can also benefit from social consumerism. By either carrying socially-conscious product in their product line or utilizing these products in their corporate gifting programs, companies can give back to the international community, garner positive PR and work towards long-term sustainable development. Additionally, philanthropy has a new look with social consumerism. By investing in micro-loans towards entrepreneurs in developing countries, using socially-conscious merchandise in fundraising and promoting the power of social consumerism – philanthropy and charity can make a larger and more sustainable impact. Each stakeholder in this process has much to gain in the long-run, since social consumerism is above all – sustainable.
Going to the grocery store, taking your teenage daughter out for a shopping spree, buying your brother the latest video game, or purchasing a new sofa for your living room – these task typically require you considering things like quality, colour, texture, fit, shape and more. Now, it’s time to consider where its from, who made it, what social conditions it was made in and how its production affected the environment. It is when we ask these questions that we will be socially-conscious consumers.