We sat up under our own power. We were crawling. We began to walk. We tentatively began to move in an almost graceful, forward momentum, when we suddenly found ourselves staring down an obstacle course made mostly by our own hands. Now what? Can someone please pass me a road map?
Being a small, ethical entity has always provided a succinct number of benefits. We enjoy the simple autonomy of being responsible for business failure or success, and the ability to make decisions effectively on the fly. What it does not do is guarantee that all, or any, of our decisions are correct, sane or successful. We launched The Natural Collective in 2013, and we’ve seen our incredibly frustrating share of challenges, poor decisions, errors and we’ve sometimes quietly shared that stare between us as the hours wear on.
What the hell are we doing?
Since I’m the pen behind this posting, I can review my own character traits and critique my choices in a way I’d hope my crew would not otherwise do of me.
I’m often my own greatest obstacle.
I’ve often been called the “dreamer” in life, as I’m constantly living life with my head in the clouds. My creative background, coupled with the challenges I’ve always had in towing the line, or even simply taking the path that actually makes logical sense often means I end up using effort, air and energy in excess to come to a conclusion or concept. Twelve words where three could suffice. Five designs when we really needed one.
But through that frustration and self-evaluation, there’s also something special in being responsible to yourself. In the end, it may not matter, as long as your vision is focused ahead. I’d like to believe that in a number of ways, we’ve sharpened that focus.
We’ve given up, and have been reborn.
We applied an enormous effort into printing and selling through all of our existing American Apparel-sourced products. We liked the fit. We loved the longevity and ease with which they take ink and the brand equity the product brings with it. We put our sails into the wind and went for it.
Then there was the decision to move ahead with convert to an all-Canadian, ethical and sweatshop-free product. Decent fit, excellent lines, and a product manufactured in the GTA, rather than LA. It’s as close to the locally-made mark as we can come without cutting and sewing the products ourselves. We sincerely appreciated your patience, and had high hopes as we worked through slashing and resolving new inventory and processes.
So, what the hell happened?
Great work takes time to accomplish it to our own expectations, and to that of anyone following our upstart little biz. I’d love to tell you it was something catastrophic – a tale that was worth telling to our friends over a beer. Unfortunately, it was an unending stream of miserable, silly, unexpected setbacks that took us down. The high hopes we had in becoming Collingwood’s, and perhaps Ontario’s, ethical apparel success story, sunk slowly as the months wore on.
So now what?
This. All of this. A regroup and an enormous slice of humble pie. One thing always frustrated me while producing clothing – even our best efforts towards a perfect apparel model still saw unmanageable wastes. Misprinted shirts wound up being cut into rags and eventually tossed. Our culture seems inherently inclined to float on the tides of weekly fashion waves. Inks defied true ecological friendliness, and chemicals were still required for cleaning up. In taking a step back, this was probably inevitable.
So now we’re here and now.
We’re back to the root of the idea – offering cool ideas and solid creative solutions, alongside fine art and hand-crafted items.
And, perhaps, eventually some really great limited-run clothing.