No matter where you are or who you are, life will always have challenges. Being human is challenging, running a business is challenging, running an ethical and sustainable business is challenging, and doing all those things in a global pandemic is a heck of a challenge. Brandy’s here to talk about these things. Enjoy!
What’s the biggest challenge running an ethical and sustainable business?
I find it has the same challenges as running any business. The ethical part is about doing what's right for people and the planet, which doesn't really feel like a challenge.
There can be obstacles with getting to the bottom of the details of businesses you want to partner with or finding the supplies you need that fit with your business model. Those are pretty small and few and far between.
It’s challenging not being a large enough business to attain certain sustainable materials (i.e. organic cotton mixed with Tencel or recycled elastane instead of lycra). As we growand our raw material order growsthings will become more attainable. Also, not having the options like fabric recycling in Canada or nearby so we can have the ability to offer an end of the life-cycle for our garments. Long story short, I want to do so many things but can't reach them yet because Franc is too small.
Maybe the biggest challenge is always wanting to do what's right, but you can see a new one just further down the path even when you reach a goal. There are always more ways to be better. Being an ethical business is very intersectional and includes so much more than it did when I started.
What’s been the biggest challenge with running a clothing business during a pandemic?
So many things!
Mostly the delays. The raw material delays due to global shortages, the shipping delays (for raw materials and customer packages) due to the COVID waiting period (aka covid purgatory), which causes delays in manufacturing and so forth. The increased demand for the product is a wonderful challenge, but it’s one we couldn't anticipate and couldn't catch up/move quick enough for because of the delays.
It is 1000% a privilege to have been an online business from the start, as I know most businesses are facing complete closures. Cancellations due to lack of workers (safety comes first) has happened a few times, and we scrambled to find a new factory/sewing studio to help out. This worked out in our favour, and now we have two to rely on.
Also the stress from all the challenges, from the not working/no breaks to the kids being home doing virtual school to personal struggles. Also wanting to do more to help my community with their challenges, stress, and struggles.
What’s the most fun challenge you’ve had running Franc?
I love the challenge of meeting the threshold for a task and having to find a new/better way to doing it. Those are all fun, even though it can be so frustrating when you meet the threshold. For example, our system for returns was no longer working (because of growth). So I had to find a new, more automated process, learn it, and then implement it.
I love learning something new, learning a better way to do something, and then implementing it.
Do you have any rituals that you lean on while facing obstacles?
I write A LOT of lists. When it comes to facing a challenge, I take a beat and write a whole new list that breaks down the steps I need to take to overcome the challenge at hand, visually breaking down the tasks into chunks.
I also take a moment to think about the things I can control in the situation and the things that are out of my control. I focus on what I can control and often implement a backup plan(s) at the same time (in case the parts I cannot control are set on fire).
Sometimes I need to take a break, step away from the computer, or do something to complete my stress cycle (cry, go for a walk, take some CBD, etc.) before my stress turns into total panic.
Feel free to leave Brandy some love to read in the comments below.
Jade is a freelance writer and copy editor, living in a sleepy town in Northern Ontario. She loves growing plants, playing with dirt, and staying cozy.