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Do Your Part: Why You Should Shop Small

Do Your Part: Why You Should Shop Small

by Oh Tiny Heart Family February 21, 2017 0 Comments

Do you know where your clothing comes from? Most of us shop at stores like Forever 21 and TJ Maxx without batting our lashes at the prices or stopping to think about where our clothing is made, or better yet, who made it.

This morning, I stumbled across a bit of public radio that examines the costs of "Made in the USA". I was shocked to hear that clothing manufacturers in the US can be just as cheap as overseas manufacturers because garment factories (particularly in LA where the majority of Made in the USA clothing is produced) underpay their workers.

Think about that.
The person who hand-stitched your favorite Forever 21 faux leather jacket barely makes enough money to survive and/or feed their family.

As the owner of a small business that crafts everything by hand, this is troubling. One of my biggest priorities after raising enough capital is to get Oh Tiny Heart into the hands of skilled handcrafting manufacturers that can produce new products for me at a low cost, with low minimums.

This is where the ethical issues begin.
  1. I of course want everyone to be paid fairly, but because I run a small business, I am (currently) unable to pay every single person that volunteers their time for me. As Oh Tiny Heart grows, my intent is to directly address this and pay everyone who has ever volunteered their time for the company, but for now ... We're running on passion, kindness, and generosity alone, and I couldn't be more grateful.
  2. When I eventually do produce my products with a manufacturer, one of the first things I'll look at is the cost of that manufacturer. It never occurred to me that a "cheaper" manufacturer producing quality work in the USA could mean that their workers are underpaid and barely able to make minimum wage. :( Now having listened to this bit of public radio, I am "woke".
  3. I imagine myself working in a garment factory making very little money, and I already empathize for these workers. Right now, everything produced by Oh Tiny Heart is handmade by one person: me. I'm making enough to afford our ridiculous San Francisco rent, and to afford slow upgrades to the company with our customers in mind (packaging, materials, etc), but I'm definitely not able to perform at scale. San Francisco is expensive! With all the costs of living here plus the costs of attempting to run a small business, it's incredibly stressful. My wrists ache constantly, I work waaAaaaAaaaaAay over 40 hours a week, and yes, the company is growing at insane speeds (thank you!), but that doesn't mean I can keep up with it.
I'm sharing this article to raise awareness around HOW the clothing we wear every day is made. I'm sharing this because I want people to be aware of the human hands that often create the items we buy from stores like Forever 21, Ross, TJ Maxx, etc -- that is, UNDERPAID human hands from businesses who don't go by the books and cause human suffering because of it.
Please, please try to support ethical brands, and do your research when buying. If you can support small businesses by buying locally, do it. If you know of a small mom and pop shop nearby that makes and sells their own clothing, support them. Support your local community as much as possible. It is so much harder to thrive in this world than people realize.
Get educated.
Do your research.

If you can afford to shop small, do your part and shop small. At Oh Tiny Heart, supporting small businesses and helping them grow (such as with our Tiny Heart Boutique and companion #TinyHeartBiz Feature posts on our blog) is incredibly important to us. Despite our raving fans and amazing followers across the web (we love you!), this fanaticism does not always translate into sales. I can't tell you how many times other small businesses have reached out to me to ask for advice on how to grow their company; it's rough out there!

If you know of other small businesses that deserve the spotlight in our blog or in our boutique, please leave a comment and let us know! And in the meanwhile, continue to source the products you buy from small shops like ours that abide by ethical standards, not just in how we produce our products, but in how we behave as a company. By our beliefs and our values. By the way we treat the people around us, and the way we treat other businesses struggling to make it just like we are.

Do your part.

Passionately and with Some Urgency,
Oh Tiny Heart Founder, Sherilynn Macale

Oh Tiny Heart Family
Oh Tiny Heart Family