Our community has always been everything to us, but we are feeling that now more than ever. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd - a black man who died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, USA - we, along with the rest of the world, watched, listened, read and learned (and more importantly, started what will be a lifelong process of unlearning a lifetimes worth of ingrained white supremacy, privilege and systemic racism). More than anything, we thought long and hard about how we can use our platform, our business, our privilege, to do better.
We wanted to share with you the ways in which we are currently committed to doing better as a business. We have always been open, honest and transparent about the good and the bad of our journey as a business, and we will always continue to operate in that way. This list will no doubt evolve as we do, and we will always keep you posted as and when things change.
The Creators' Collaborative
An ongoing series of blogposts brought to you by you: the maker community. We want to use our blog to celebrate the immense talent of our community in a way that truly reflects all makers, raises and promotes marginalised voices, and - crucially - financially compensates our collaborators. We will be revealing all the details about this and how you can get involved (and get paid!) in a couple of days, so please stay tuned!
Monthly charity donations
This is something we have been talking about formally implementing since the beginning of 2020, when the horrific fires in Australia were blazing. So far this year we have donated over £1,000 to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Women's Aid, The Trussell Trust, NAAC Legal Defense Fund and Black Lives Matter.
Moving forward, we will be donating a percentage of our profits to a different charity at the end of each month. This month (June 2020), we will be supporting the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. Stephen Lawrence was a black British teenager who was murdered in a racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus in 1993. He was just 18. The trust works to:
- Support young people in the UK to transform their lives by overcoming disadvantage and discrimination and moving into ambitious careers as professionals
- Ensure businesses can benefit from and are more inclusive of diverse talent throughout their management structures
- Continuing to campaign for fairness and justice, ensuring the lessons learnt from Stephen’s murder are acted upon
We will update you on the charity we've chosen to support at the beginning of each month on our Instagram page.
Exclusively working with fabric retailers who are providing sustainable fabrics
Most of the fabrics we use are from retailers who provide deadstock, organic and sustainably sourced fabrics, but not all, and from now on we want to commit whole-heartedly. We will only use sustainable fabrics in our photoshoots and sewalongs, and promote the retailers putting in the hard work to provide us sewers with better options that do not exploit people or planet.
Continuing to make sure that we reflect the diversity of our community in our pattern shoots, in what we share on Instagram, and in the future as we grow our team
This is another area where we know we can always do better. The maker community is nothing if not diverse, and that deserves to be celebrated and championed every day. We believe that it is so important for the diversity we see in real life (especially for those of us living in a city like London!) to be reflected in what we see online, and we want to use our platform to show off the beauty and creativity in everyone of all races, sizes, sexual orientations, abilities, and religions (with an emphasis on womxn over men for now, simply because nearly all of our patterns are designed for womxn).
With regards to our team, currently it's just me (Elisalex, founder) and Jessica (exec assistant). We outsource things like pattern cutting, grading and graphic design to talented freelancers who are mostly women and of various races and backgrounds. Our dream is to expand our team as the business grows, and when the time comes we will be scrupulous in hiring a diverse team of talented creatives.
Revising how we compensate our pattern testers
This has been a big conversation in the sewing community recently, and we have been listening and figuring out how we can do better. There's no denying that our pattern testers are so valuable when it comes to quality control, spotting typos, letting us know when instructions could be clearer and road testing our patterns. We agree that it's a lot of work, and the fact that it is (usually) unpaid means that pattern testing is only ever an option for people who are financially privileged and have the time to spare.
In the past we have provided printed copyshop files, free or discounted fabric (thank you to all the fabric stores over the years who have donated!), but this hasn't been consistent. We give two weeks for the testing process, and I'm sure anyone who has tested for us will testify that we are potentially a little too chilled out when it comes to deadlines..! We have a large "pool" of testers that we reach out to every time we have a new pattern ready to test, and no one is ever under any obligation to test (if they don't like the pattern or don't have the availability or whatever) or post about it on their socials, or provide us with "blog-worthy" images for us to use (although most people do choose to).
Unfortunately, for us at the moment, we can't afford to pay our testers a set wage for their time. We genuinely hope that will change, or that we will find a way to make pattern testing financially viable for both our testers and our business. We are always open to suggestions, and ever ready to evolve.
In the meantime, and in the interest of full transparency, this is how we will be conducting our pattern testing from now on*:
- Testers will always receive printed copyshop files to minimise their expenditures
- On occasion, we will be able to source fabric sponsorship for the testing process, provide discounts from local fabric retailers or provide the fabric ourselves
- Testers will receive the final copy of the pattern they tested, plus their choice of two of our PDF patterns (this can be saved up as credit for future patterns if they already have all the existing patterns of ours they want)
- Testers are never obligated to test, post or provide us with "insta-worthy" images
- Testers will always have at least two weeks to sew and submit feedback, and if for whatever reason they have to drop out during the testing process, that's totally fine, no questions asked
*Please note that some of these points are already in effect and have always been part of our testing process. This list is not an entirely new action plan; rather an updated and improved version of our existing pattern testing protocol.
*Update April 2021: we are now paying our pattern testers*
Continuing to learn and do the work necessary to be actively anti-racist in life and in business
On a more personal, individual level, both Jessica and I are committed to becoming better educated on systemic racism and white supremacy, and doing the work to unlearn what has been ingrained in us, being white middle-class women of privilege. We both believe that it is our responsibility as white people to contribute to the undoing of generations of racism. We will always be vocal about the issues we believe in, both personally and in business, and we will use our privilege to fight injustice.
NB: We have not been able to find the source of the image. It's an image we found on Pinterest years ago and have posted a few times on Instagram. If you know the source, please let us know so we can give credit!