Why I Don’t Shop On Black Friday – The Issue With The Sales Culture

It is the time of the year again when shops are filling with sales signs, people have made lists in anticipation of what is going to be on sale and hoping to find the best bargains for Christmas presents or in clothes and technology. In the USA people are going crazy and hurting themselves when pushing into the shops to be the first one to get the long-awaited bargain and in the UK people are browsing through the Amazon deals finding what they think are treasures. Mostly this is just the start of the stressful time before Christmas and we could argue whether sales and high expectations for Christmas are making the time ‘less wonderful’. I have to agree that every year I do check the Black Friday deals, but somehow none of the sales have so far enticed me enough to buy something, or I am just too late and the deals are already gone.

Lately, been more involved with small businesses I have come to see sales and especially Black Friday as the villain of the retail and quality products. There are numerous articles on why Black Friday is not really benefitting the retail industry, but of course not quite as many as ‘find the best bargains on Black Friday’, unfortunately. Black Friday, however, is not a problem only for retailers but for the consumers and for our environment as well!

Why I Don't Shop On Black Friday - The Issue With The Sales Culture - byLiiL

The Sale Is An Illusion

It is widely known that retailers either raise the prices during a previous month to make their sales look good, or inflate the “original price” on the add or the tag for the product making it look like a bargain. Actually, this tactic is used outside of Black Friday all the time. Have you noticed how prices on your favourite products at Asda jump up and down weekly and sometimes the sale price isn’t actually lower than the products price on a month before?

What is less widely known is that brands manufacture items specifically for Black Friday items with a far poorer quality to make up for the sale tag, especially within the technology sector. It generates additional waste and requires more cheap labour. This phenomenon is also seen in discount retailers such as TK Maxx to which brands manufacture a specific lower quality product.

Of course, there are some genuine discounts during Black Friday as well, however, in the mids of all the other falsified discounts they might be hard to find.

Why I Don't Shop On Black Friday - The Issue With The Sales Culture - byLiiL

Small Business’ Suffer

We can already see that small business’ have trouble competing with big brands pricing. I’ve heard numerous times how small business product prices seem too high for the conventional consumer. So when the big brands lower their prices it provides an uncomfortable pressure for the small brands to lower their prices as well to be able to compete.

Although Black Friday is meant to be only one day many brands and retailers, have extended their sales for a weekend or even a week. Now Amazon made it for the whole month!

Small brands generally don’t make the same profit as big brands from the items sold, as production costs are much higher for locally made items or those made in small batches, so discounting any items will probably end up in them losing on profit altogether.

If small brands do not discount their prices they are likely to miss on any product sales as customers pass them on their way to the sales shelves and racks.

Our culture seems to think it is always appropriate to have a sale. For example, Etsy, which is known to be a marketplace for small brands and which should support them, sends emails before Christmas or sales period advising sellers to discount their items.

 

Why I Don't Shop On Black Friday - The Issue With The Sales Culture - byLiiL

It Is Not Necessarily Better For The Economy

People often have “sales goggles” on when shopping during Black Friday which results in a lot of returns afterwards, where products have either been faulty or suddenly people realise they don’t need the products that they thought they were craving for.

Although big brands might sell a lot during Black Friday and other sales events advertising and returns might not make this event any more profitable than any other day.

In preparation for sales seasons, some brands keep their prices originally higher so that they won’t make a loss during the sales periods, therefore, raising the product prices. Could this be avoided if we didn’t have sales periods and rather have slightly lower priced items all year round?

Why I Don't Shop On Black Friday - The Issue With The Sales Culture - byLiiL

What We Could Do To Support A More Sustainable And Economical Trade

Instead of trying to get the best bargain we could just keep supporting the small brands with their fair prices. This will support the brand and the local economy.

The modern understanding for Black Friday is that it is the start of the shopping period for Christmas and is a completely commercial marketing tactic, so to not be swept in the craziness you could just not shop on those days.

While reading the Ethical Unicorn blog I came upon brand Very Kerry who instead of discounting their items during Black Friday gives a portion of their sales to charity, what a great idea!

 

What do you think about Black Friday and other sales events?

With love,

Lii

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The FINE Deodorant

Like everybody else I was long on the hunt for the natural deodorant that is aluminium and alcohol-free, is not drying and actually works. It sounds like an impossible task and I really felt as though it was! I tried a bunch of them from the high street to ordering one from MADARA, but nothing seemed to tick each box. There were several others online, which nevertheless of the great reviews I was afraid to order due to their higher price and no promise for it working for me. Your armpits, as well as any other part of your skin, can behave in a different way from everybody else and although something might work for your friends and family, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. I thought I had to settle for something that wasn’t exactly working for me but was the best option from everything I had tried until my friend brought me a sample of Fine cream deodorant.

The FINE Deodorant - byLiiL

I had never heard of this brand or their deodorants before, but my friend reassured me it was her favourite deodorant brand since she had tried it. I was excited to try the product but quite sceptical whether it would work for me and what a surprise it was! After only a first application I lasted without extra application for at least 2 days. There wasn’t even the slightest scent of odour, my armpits were feeling moisturised, dry and comfortable. Once I finished the sample sachet I knew I had to get the real deal!

The FINE Deodorant - byLiiL

FINE Deodorant is a natural, organic and vegan deodorant designed in Berlin, Germany. Their cream deodorants come in two scents; vetiver geranium and cedar bergamot. I’ve only tried vetiver geranium, which I absolutely loved, but am quite interested in the other scent as well. What for me was the most exciting thing is they are alcohol and aluminium free, how amazing is that! The idea for Fine deodorant came from the need for a natural deodorant that is healthy and it works, and that is exactly what they created. Funnily enough, they share this idea even in the name:

FINE is Italian for “end”. And this is exactly what FINE does: it finally puts an end to undesired odors from sweat that are often paired with feeling uncomfortable. And last but not least it ends your search for a clean and efficient deodorant. FINE also means “great” and “beautiful” in English of course. And that is FINE in one word!

The deodorants come in glass jars with a wooden spatula and they have the original scent in a tube as well if you prefer that. FINE is not tested on animals, it is GMO-free, Nano free, Parabens free, Gluten free, Petrochemical free and it does not include any synthetic preservatives, fragrances or fillers. They list all the ingredients used in their products on their website and even explain about their ingredients, although that is in German.

The FINE Deodorant - byLiiL

If you are not familiar with the cream deodorants, they might seem funny as it is actually a cream that you spread into your armpits with your fingers. I use a pea-sized amount, after a shower, that I massage into my armpits and enjoy the wonderful smell of vetiver and geranium that smells clean and invigorating. It dries in an instant and you do not get those white marks on your tops when putting them on!

One of my favourite things about this brand is that they offer sample sachets for you to try their product before committing to the quite heftily priced product (30mg is around €28). If you got interested, and I think you should have as my life completely turned for the better after FINE, you can find their products on their own website, which although is beautiful is not yet quite perfectly developed for the English reading customer (you are still able to order easily, but the terms and conditions are in German). They also have several other shops selling them in Berlin, all around Germany and in several online shops around Europe. In the UK you can find FINE in The Method, an Edinburgh based lifestyle store.

 

Have you heard of FINE Deodorant before?

With love,

Lii

Are Big Brands Stealing Small Brand Thunder?

As you have probably noticed I am all up to support the small brands and talk bad about the big brands, especially if I feel they are taking the small brands thunder with ethical or sustainable things. Not following? Let me explain. Recently I’ve seen a lot of articles about ethical swimwear; it seems there is a boom in the industry. Designers from Europe, USA, Australia and Canada, especially, are producing swimwear with various ethical ways such as GOTS certified cotton, fair trade or recycled ocean waste materials. I find it absolutely amazing to hear that these small brands are making their mark with their ethical produce!

Are Big Brands Stealing Small Brand Thunder? - byLiiL

If you have read about these small brands, you have probably also read about the fashion and sportswear giant Adidas producing swimwear and shoes from recycled ocean waste. My first thought was great, more marketing for the ocean conservation and sustainability. My second thought was, wait…  by using the same technology and marketing tactics isn’t Adidas taking the limelight from all the other brands within the narrow ethical fashion marketing sphere?

Recycled Ocean Waste

The highly marketed recycled ocean waste fabric is Econyl, a trademark by Aquafil which is made in Slovenia. It is a fibre made out of recycled nylon 6 which they collect from few locations around the world and some volunteers collect them discarded fishing nets. The fibre is produced in a closed loop system and can be recycled numerous times. It sounds great compared to virgin nylon and it is definitely a solution for nylon 6 waste. You can check their website if you want to read more about it.

Are Big Brands Stealing Small Brand Thunder? - byLiiL

There are several brands that use econyl to make their swimwear. Auria, a brand from London, was one of the first brands that used the fibre and has built a brand on making their beautiful ethical swimwear by using only econyl fabric. Koru likewise to Auria has built their brand producing ethical swimwear and only using econyl, whilst they are in New Zealand. There are several others that you can find just by googling and on the Econyl blog where they share the brands that are using their fibre. And then, of course, there is Adidas, who made a collaboration with Parley to create an eco swimwear collection and shoes to raise awareness for the ocean and marine conservation. Currently, they produce 50 % of their swimwear out of recycled materials but are aiming for 100%.

Econyl provides any brand with a sustainable new nylon fabric. Small brands don’t have to innovate to create an environmentally sustainable business. What they do with it is the difference. Small brands have to drive their sales with beautiful and unique designs, each catering to a slightly different niche market and retailing for £50-170 per swimsuit. They boast with ethical swimwear that is made out of recycled ocean waste and produced fairly by making it locally or in fair trade factories. Whereas Adidas caters to the mass market with a price to match £25-51 and although they spread the message of ocean and marine conservation to a wider public, the price questions whether the swimwear is made in fair conditions. In addition, when the small brands have been able to build their brands on the sustainable fabric, I wonder why it is taking Adidas this long to do it 100% nevertheless of their aims. Is Econyl production not quite meeting the Adidas swimwear production rates, or is it just green marketing tactics?

Are Big Brands Stealing Small Brand Thunder? - byLiiL

I do think that it is great there are many options to buy more sustainable alternatives than the general high street mass market options, but I do feel Adidas is stealing the thunder from the smaller brands while not being quite as committed to the cause. When googling recycled ocean waste swimwear Adidas collaboration with Parley has several first clicks, whereas I originally read about the smaller brands because I follow several ethical blogs. However, I do not think these small brands could have spread the message as wide as Adidas did, on their own. To make this planet sustainable we do need everybody working for it; producing sustainably, educating people and spreading the word. Maybe this way we challenge each of these brands to be even better and more innovative with their sustainable ways.

Pictures are from Auria, Econyl and Proswimwear websites.

 

What do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

With love,

Lii

Introducing – 1 Dress 14 Styles by Doo.Bla.Vey

The minimalistic and sustainable brand Doo.Bla.Vey caught my eye some time ago when they were doing their Kickstarter project, but I didn’t look into the brand until much later on. Similarly to Honest Rosie, a brand which I wrote last about, Doo.Bla.Vey is rocking minimalist principles trying to reduce how much women are buying and dumping fashion. Their vision is to “design multi functional and purposeful clothing toward a minimal, longer lasting wardrobe”. The founder, designer Jiayin Zheng, has so far only designed one dress – the W dress, but styling one dress in 14 ways seems to be so promising I am excited to see what else she will bring in the future!

Introducing - 1 Dress 14 Styles by Doo.Bla.Vey - byLiiL

Doo.Bla.Vey wants to do things ethically and they source their fabrics from surplus vendors and manufacture garments in Taiwanese factories that offer fair wages, good working conditions and skills training for employees.

I am really looking forward to seeing more from this brand, not only for what they design but to see information on their sustainable practices as well! At least they want to spread the message of reducing the mass consumption which is great! I would also like to see designs with less open back for women who would like such a choice. Check their website here and their great Instagram page here. All of the images are from those two sites.

Have you heard of Doo.Bla.Vey before?

With love,

Lii

7 Reasons Why I Choose To Shop Small

It took me working for small businesses and starting my own to really understand and appreciate the work that goes behind running a small business. It is not easy to motivate yourself every day, to believe in yourself and in what you are doing, in addition, to actually doing everything and working through the layers of bureaucracy.

7 Reasons Why I Choose To Shop Small - byLiiL

1. THEY ARE MORE SUSTAINABLE

It, of course, is not a given that all small businesses are sustainable, but the chances are they are more likely to be sustainable. Small businesses often source locally, use less packaging, use fewer air miles through their production cycle and produce in small batches. In addition, with the growing concern for the environment, many businesses start off with the idea of being more sustainable and helping to make the world a better place.

2. HAVE UNIQUE AND CREATIVE PRODUCTS

Small businesses are either making their own creative products/services or curating a selection for their customers from other businesses. In any case, their offering differs from the mass market that mostly looks the same. When it comes to fashion I’ve noticed that the every shop on the high street seems to be selling the same things over and over and there is no individuality. When shopping from small fashion businesses you will stand out of the crowd. Other small shops are great for individualistic gifts that nobody else might have found.

3. I KNOW WHERE MY MONEY IS GOING

Unlike that of with big brands, small brands do not have several layers of supply chains, management levels, stakeholders groups and all the other additional stuff that you do not see but are paying for with your money. When you are shopping from a small brand you can quite easily see what their values are and know that the money you are giving them will pay for their living and them keeping up the business.

4. THEY GROW THE ECONOMY

Small businesses grow their local economy. The money that you are putting into the business will either support the owner of the business or the business itself. In most cases this means the money goes back into the local community through living costs, employing local people or sourcing from local other businesses. In addition, they are a competition to the big companies and the ways they do business.

5. I’M SUPPORTING DREAMS

Running a small business or any size of a business is hard work and there aren’t many people who are prepared to do the work unless it is their dream and something they enjoy doing. So when you are spending your money on that business you are essentially helping to support the business owners dream. Later on, other young entrepreneurial spirits will look at that business owner and get the motivation to start their own business and the dream.

7 Reasons Why I Choose To Shop Small - byLiiL

6. IT DRIVES INNOVATION

Small businesses drive innovation and push the economy and the market forward. We’ve seen the rise of small tech companies that drive the innovation in apps and products. It is funny, as it is the big companies that have the funds for this.

7 Reasons Why I Choose To Shop Small - byLiiL

7. I GET BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE

Small businesses know that to get customers they have to treat every customer excellently. It is the loyal customers and their word of mouth that will support their business. Small business owners are thankful when you spend your money with them and will do their best to give you the best experience. They listen to feedback and respond and it is much easier to communicate with them.

I don’t always shop at small businesses, but I do try my best. Last Christmas I got most of the presents from small businesses and they were the best and most unique presents that I gave. And although I am spending more money when I shop at a small business, I get more joy of knowing that I supported somebody with their dream.

7 Reasons Why I Choose To Shop Small - byLiiL

Pictures are from this pinterest board.

Do you shop at small businesses?

With love,

Lii

Georganix Natural Toothpaste Review

What first attracted me to natural toothpaste was the small ingredient lists and the absence of extra chemicals in them. Mouth and our teeth is one of the vital elements for our health, so why would I want to add any more chemicals to wash that area? I don’t! But then again I want to make sure that I will find the natural toothpaste that works effectively at keeping the health of my mouth and teeth healthy and out of the dentist appointments. It took me a long time to find one that I would like to try, but georganix fit most of my requirements; it is locally produced in the UK, it is a small company, it has good feedback for the product and the seller, it is reasonably priced and it had enough information on the product.

Georganix Natural Toothpaste Review - byLiiL

Georganix

Georganix is a small brand who manufactures natural and organic oral care products from toothpaste and mouthwashes to toothbrushes and nutritional supplements. Their ethos is to produce oral care without chemicals and preservatives, but rather with natural ingredients which will naturally remineralise the teeth. The company is very open with ingredients they use for each of their products and like to post on their blog about oral health care to assist their clients with it. Sounds great right! Their product prices range from £3.90 for their bamboo toothbrushes to £6.90 for a 60ml jar of toothpaste or 100ml bottle of mouthwash.

Georganix Natural Toothpaste Review - byLiiL

Georganics Remineralizing Natural Organic Coconut Oil Whitening Toothpaste – Spearmint

The toothpaste I tried was the spearmint flavoured one. I read that the flavour and texture are so different from the generic one so I was hoping with the spearmint flavour it would at least remind me of the product that I am so used to. The smell definitely did remind me of toothpaste and I liked it so much I couldn’t wait to use it. Until I tried it the first time and almost felt sick. The paste is made out of clay and coconut oil mostly and although the essential oils to provide it with some scent, the flavour and texture are much closer to clay.

It took me a couple of days to be okay with putting the paste into my mouth and a couple of weeks to get used to it. The aftertaste or feel is not the refreshed one, like when using the generic toothpaste, and I generally do feel the need for mouthwash or oil pulling, but then again I have no problem eating or drinking right afterwards either. However, since I started using it I haven’t had any problems with my teeth. I really feel healthy in my mouth and it is quite amazing to find a toothpaste that leaves me feeling like that! I think we are so used to the generic, chemical full, products that are on the market now, that we feel weird with anything that feels different, but it is all about getting our body and taste buds used to the natural ingredients.

Georganix Natural Toothpaste Review - byLiiL

What I wished in addition

All of this sounds really great, doesn’t it! Well, although I find that they are really trying to make their customers feel comfortable with their products, I didn’t find much of anything to support any sustainable practices other than the toothbrushes being made from bamboo and their products being in glass jars. A bit more transparency on this side would really make the difference with me being completely happy with using this brand and recommending it to everybody.

To check them out Georganix website, Etsy store and Instagram.

Georganix Natural Toothpaste Review - byLiiL

 

Have you tried Georganix products or any other natural toothpaste brands? What do you think?

With love,

Lii

6 Piece Capsule Wardrobe by Honest Rosie

Minimalism and capsule wardrobes have been a trendy topic for quite some time now and although, I don’t really want to restrict my wardrobe by a number I do like to follow some of the principles such as wearing garments more than once #30wears. For many, however, it seems to be difficult to make a capsule collection no matter how much they would like to. People don’t have the time or know how to curate items that would work together or find garments that would last the test of time. If you recognised yourself here, or just became interested then read forward about Honest Rosie. And if you don’t know what a capsule wardrobe is you should check the Honest Rosie blog for an explanation.

6 Piece Capsule Wardrobe by Honest Rosie - byLiiL

Honest Rosie is a brand that has readily curated a 6 piece capsule collection for you. All the pieces work well together and they are so carefully designed that with just 6 pieces you are able to create 30 outfits! Sounds impossible, but the pictures are here to prove.

In addition, Honest Rosie is trying to run everything sustainably and ethically. They are big advocates for fair labour showing videos of the women who make the garments, pay fair wages and raise awareness about environmental issues and working conditions. The garments are made out of pre-consumer, upcycled fabrics.

6 Piece Capsule Wardrobe by Honest Rosie - byLiiL

The collection includes a blue vest blazer, a white shirt tunic, a white jumper, a blue button-down blouse, a light blue skirt and a dress in one and a pair of light blue trousers. So most of the garments are versatile and can be worn in many ways, which is absolutely amazing! The colours work well together and if you don’t want to buy the whole collection you can buy just one item that will definitely complement your own wardrobe. I hope to see in future that they will bring out some other colour variations as well!

6 Piece Capsule Wardrobe by Honest Rosie - byLiiL

When I heard about the brand they had just finished their Kickstarter campaign and earned much more than they were aiming to. With such a great idea I am not surprised! At the moment they are in the process of manufacturing the garments and I hope they will soon be available for sale! They are definitely striving for transparency and I wish they will share their location and how they supply their materials.

To check out their website visit here and definitely visit their Instagram account, where all the pictures in this post are from!

 

Have you heard of Honest Rosie before? Do you want to have a capsule wardrobe? Let me know in the comments below.

With love,

Lii