Part 3: Selecting Materials
I don’t want to tell you how many hours I have spent in my career and life looking at materials. It was always part of my job, but it was also what I did on the weekends and what I studied in school. I have always had a love affair with textiles and love the role they play in indigenous cultures. If you go into my healing center, you can see the role textiles play in my life. They are prevalent around every corner in Ceremony.
When TheOne08 came together we had many discussions on our consumers, on sustainable materials, on our product mission as well as our company mission. Especially on what “sustainable materials” even means! It’s a lot and it has been a lot. Each choice has a million other choices cascading from it. I am not only choosing a material, I am choosing the process in which it is made, the life of the bag and how it will or will not merge back with the planet when its life is complete. And material choices VASTLY span the cost spectrum. When we’ve polled our consumers we hear the long list of desires for the bag (and materials) and then ask them how much they would be willing to invest in these items. That’s where the hard conversation begins. We as consumers want x, y, & z but we have been conditioned to buy items that are cheap. We are not used to how our grandparents lived, how they invested in pieces and had very few items that were made well, were expensive (compared to what we pay today) and lasted a very long time. We are used to grabbing something cute and cheap from easy retailers nearby or online. We are not used to taking care of our items or repairing them when they need it. Just try to find a cobbler in your town! We have created habits that are difficult to break.
As you know, being someone who is interested in TheOne08 this has been shifting for a while, you probably already shop in vintage stores and with conscious companies. You are the one convincing your friends to spend less at the fast fashion retailers and have already changed your habits. You know high quality items that last a long time are going to cost more.
I wish the story of me choosing materials were sexier. A long table, every sustainable material from under the sun laid out beautifully. Me flipping through books, feeling swatches and consulting the price list. Oh wait, that is how it happened. It just happened in many, many stages and in several different locations around the world.
The first selection left me a little concerned with what our scalable options were. The things I had in my mind to use didn’t exist yet for a cost we could afford, or in a way that made any sense to get a product to a consumer. It was a constant request from me as I went through the plant families: mushrooms? Bamboo? Linen? Cotton? Hemp? Each choice meant something sacrificed. Too expensive (for now). Not readily available (yet). Processed with chemicals (why?!! L), short shelf life…… or the material that I finally thought I had hit a home run with the vendor started to tell me that their customers were not concerned with sustainability and began telling me how much water and power and resources were wasted in making their materials!!! Ayiyiyi!
I was continuously frustrated and disheartened. What to do???
But as you read before, you heard that we are an incredibly supportive team who listens to each other and does our best to align in each decision to make the best possible choices with what is available right now. So the 5 of us met in the restaurant at the top of our hotel in Ho Chi Minh Coty, after knowing how frustrating it has been to find the right material for right now, we spread out new options that were softer, more durable, more eco-conscious than I had seen before. I flipped through swatches observing each one closely until I finally opened a swatch book and landed on The One.
And it’s on its way to our factory so we can see samples in my new favorite material. (cross your fingers) I can’t what to share it with you.