I’m 32. That means I was a child and teen of the ’90s and early 2000s, a span of time that exemplified the height of American consumerism. A time where I needed the newest hip-hugging flare jeans and grommet belt or else my emo-centric world would collapse. A time where shopping malls were filled to the brim with vendors.
As I tiptoed further into adulthood, my desire for fashionable clothing waned. But, it wasn’t until 2015 when I truly began to evaluate my shopping habits and the effects of my habits.
In 2015, my friend (a sewist for whom I have deep respect and admiration) announced that she would be going on a fast fashion fast. Her announcement was accompanied by a haunting picture of the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse, which devastated (and continues to affect) thousands of lives. Without hesitation, I joined her.
Fast forward to today. I have not bought a single piece of brand new clothing since beginning that fast. If I absolutely needed a clothing item that I did not own – like for a special event – I would go to thrift shops. Or, if I had enough time to make a speciality garment, I would.
But, I still perpetuated my habit in another way…
I continued to buy fabric with no regard to who made it, how it was made, or where it was made. And to top it off, I’d buy hoards of fabric at a time. You know the drill, right? It goes a little something like this:
- Walk into a fabric store, or browse online
- See ten different pretty things
- Buy a yard or two or four of each because one day you just might make that gala gown for a gala that doesn’t exist
And now here I am with a closet full of fabrics for which I have zero knowledge of their origins. This is where the guilt seeps in:
Was my fabric produced under similar conditions as Rana Plaza? Did I simply re-box my own mindless consumerism with a different bow? These thoughts were really heavy for me and after starting my custom competition suits business in 2016, I quickly took a step back to re-evaluate my core values. Truthfully, what I really needed was to define my core values with unquestionable clarity. Since I was personally in so much flux, I abstained from purchasing anymore fabric in late 2016.
And because I put my custom suits business on hold, I started MIKO Suit Supplies for no other reason than to serve other makers with the inventory that I’ve amassed. The happy outcome from this new division was that I realized how much I actually love serving the sewing community. Sharing with you is my joy. Finding that joy helped me develop my core values.
Sharing with you is my joy.
For now, I’ll leave you with a challenge: What are your core values, whether in business, personal sewing, or life in general?
Keep in touch for Mindful Sourcing: Part 2.
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