Though “sustainable” and “organic” are quite the buzzwords these days, they’ve been a part of our company vocabulary from the very beginning. We started almost 20 years ago without a lot of money, and with the trust of a few good suppliers, so conservation was critical. As we’ve grown, we’ve sought sustainable growth, growth that we could fund with our own internal resources. We have no outside investors and try to avoid bankers. We have come to find that most investors will drive us to grow at a fast, often wasteful and always unsustainable rate.
Ours is not some new-fangled business philosophy but one that has evolved organically over 20 years of selling products we use to people we like. If you stop by our offices, you’ll see our philosophy at work. The bike racks are full with our commuter bikes. Most of our employees live just a short distance away from our office. Sure, fewer hours in the car mean less carbon in the air, but it also means more time for family and fitness. Our chairs are not the latest from Herman Miller but rather the recycled ones from the business that used to be in our building. So for us, “sustainable” is not a marketing term, recycling is not just something we do with newspaper, it is a business necessity. If we conserve our assets, if we avoid frivolous technology, and continue to invest wisely when it is required, then we will be around to enjoy this business and our customers for many years to come.
Yes, we are still a multi-channel retailer and we DO send out lots of catalogues. But as we move more of our business to the internet and get smarter about how we use our data, we are actually sending out fewer catalogs even as we grow our business. This most certainly does have a “green” impact, but it also saves us and ultimately our customers the kind of green that we can all put in the bank. The catalogs we do send are all recyclable and are made from a renewable resource. The wood we use for our paper pulp comes from sustainably-managed forests and is independently certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Last, and perhaps most important, are the products we sell. We do not sell disposable fashion, never have, never will. From the beginning, we’ve had a rule for ourselves. We won’t sell anything that we might be embarrassed to wear next year. And the clothes that we do sell? Well, they are meant to be worn hard and worn well for a good long time.