The first thing a lot of us realize when we make the decision to shop ethically is that it’s a heck of a difficult thing. Accessing beautiful, trendy clothes that are made well is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. So naturally, we go online.
And hey, that’s the best way to do it for most of us! There are so many wonderful ethical brands online—a real, empowering global community that is majority women-led, with strong ethics and a drive for a better future. It resonates with us. We can feel confident in what we’re purchasing.
The first step to making ethical shopping easier is building up a database of brands for each kind of item: casual, workwear, bathing suits, lingerie, denim, etc. I even went as far as finding a brand that manufactures ethical and sustainable socks & tights. It felt good.
It does; especially when you find the niche of your style and don’t have to think too hard when you need to replace an item in your closet. You can settle down and enjoy the inspiration surrounding you on Instagram (and wish you had enough money to purchase even an item or two).
Online shopping is amazing — no doubt about it! And it feels so good to support small businesses around the country (and world) who are working hard to make a difference in the fashion industry.
But There’s A Whole Other Side of it That We Don’t Think About
My cousin from Pennsylvania came to visit, and we had a hearty debate at the dinner table about online shopping, and how millennials consume. She owns a boutique wedding gown shop in her small town, where she puts painstaking care into every detail to ensure her dresses are the best quality, with even better service.
For decades, she’s been successful—until online shopping came around. Immediately her business was gutted because of a new, digital market flooded with cheaper knock-off gowns. End of story.
Sounds like a tale we’ve all heard before. It’s a natural evolution of how we do business. Things have changed. It’s a different time. Then she said something to me that I won’t forget:
I keep getting parents from the local schools coming to ask me for donations. I’ve done it every year—but can’t afford to anymore, because the girls don’t come to me to buy dresses—they shop online. It’s not that I don’t want to support them. I love supporting my town. But how can I, when I have no more income?
People don’t know that local businesses are huge contributors to municipal taxes. Small businesses feed the economy. Without us, taxes fall exclusively on homeowners. Living expenses go up. I don’t think people realize how much it affects them.
On one side: you’ve got to grow, or you’ll stagnate. On the other: our local economies could become unbalanced. Ultimately: life is all about balance.
I believe that there’s a way we can support the brands we love, while still finding hidden gems in our own communities. It just might take a tiny bit more work to find what you need in your own backyard.
Our communities are all vastly different, but here’s a few tips on how I find ways to support local businesses.
1. Go to Farmer’s Markets
(LOVE them. What more could you ask for? Local, organic, small businesses. Best of all worlds)
2. Find Local Artisan Festivals
(there’s nothing like the feeling of knowing a maker personally—and artisan shows or music festivals is where I find most of my minimalist jewelry and all-natural soaps)
3. Find An Antique Mall
(most antique malls or vintage boutiques are locally-owned, so they’re a great way to support local economy—while finding affordable furniture, accessories, entertainment or homewares)
4. Brunch It Up
(Grab some friends. Find some coffee shops, brunch places, great local eats)
5. Get That Step Count
(95% of my favourite local stores were discovered just by walking around. Such hidden gems!)
6. Search Instagram’s Geo-tags
(I’m a sucker for creating “collections” of saved posts on Instagram for places I want to go. When I moved to a new city, the first thing I did was browse the geo-tag and bookmark a whole whack of cool local places that I’d like to visit. Every weekend, I’d venture out and discover one of those places! It’s been such a cool way to make friends and get to know the city)
So, time to do some exploring! Have you found something amazing in your own city?
Share it below! Let’s celebrate what makes our neighborhoods unique <3