Over the past 15 years, Etiko has slowly but surely grown. We've increased our customer base, broadened our product range and continued to improve our turnover. All while maintaining our values and striving to be not just an ethical fashion brand, but also a regenerative one. Then, suddenly, a global pandemic hits.
The COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating impact on many Australian industries and small businesses, and Etiko is no exception.
The world is suffering from job insecurity, people have been stood down or their incomes have been reduced, our product sales have also declined.. And this is understandable. We all need to prioritise our spending when enduring such unprecedented circumstances, and clothing or sneakers don't usually slip into the high-priority purchasing category.
To deal with having less cashflow, Etiko and other retailers, have had no option but to stand-down staff or reduce their hours. It also means we reduce the level of stock we order.
The roll-on effect of less purchasing then moves up the supply chain and into countries whose governments won't offer income support for workers or farmers. Where people have little to no savings to cushion their fall.
Employees in the Fairtrade certified factories that manufacture Etiko products have no work. They have closed down for three weeks and hope to open again in late April, but at this stage, it’s unclear how much work they will have upon their return.
After working for more than a decade and a half to help support the rights of farmers and workers in developing countries, it's a hard to watch the news each night and see the reports coming out of India. Hundreds of thousands of peoples are without transport options, being sprayed with disinfectant and beaten by authorities.
For Etiko to survive during this crisis, we have scaled right back. Our expenses have been reduced wherever possible, and we are assessing how our company can be more efficient.
We are also looking to expand our range to provide customers with a broader selection of everyday ethical clothing. By the way, thank you to everyone who recently completed our product survey.
Before the pandemic, we had set targets many years in the making, and we hope to achieve those still. 2020 was the year Etiko was supposed to be completely carbon neutral through all of our supply chains, and we still hope to achieve that goal. It was also the year that we were closing the loop on our fashion waste and establishing a take-back program for our entire clothing range (except underpants). There were exciting projects in the pipelines for 2020, and we aim to see those goals achieved, even with a pandemic.
The present time and circumstances also offer a unique opportunity for all of us to assess the impact of our purchasing power. It's time for customers to prioritise, and connect with the far-reaching implications of each purchase. If you are going to buy while we all stay at home, I ask that you support small ethically focused businesses like Etiko. We simply can’t do it without you.
Stay safe and be kind to each other.