Next week is both Earth Day and Fashion Revolution Week! April is also the 2 year anniversary of the birth of Burke Mercantile's brick & mortar shop! This is normally my favorite week of the year as I host my annual charity raffle in the shop to benefit environmental causes, and host workshops and events for all our local customers. We even had a huge neighborhood event planned with over 20 East Village small businesses this year! While a potentially virtual charity raffle is still in the works (stay tuned!), sadly our events are not. With all of us under our Safe at Home orders, I'm forced to approach this week a lot differently! I'll be sharing information and education on climate change, sustainability and more all week on our instagram as it pertains to our shop, the brands we carry, and the industry as a whole. But this also felt like a good time to share a little transparency about the growing goals and future plans I am implementing for Burke!
*image via @thesustainablefashionforum
These plans have been in the works for awhile, even before the pandemic hit. I have been anticipating a desire and a need for challenging the system and the industry for awhile and decided to take some small steps toward that within my own four walls! Since the inception of Burke, my ethos has always been about offering sustainable, slow fashion, and supporting emerging and independent designers with these same ethos in mind. While I've been able to showcase and work with many small brands over the past 2 years, I decided this year to tighten my parameters even more, and push myself to go even further with this idea.
At the start of this year, I decided to finally sign up to achieve an official Green Business Certification from the city of Long Beach and state of California through the Green Business Network. I have always been conscious of products and supplies I buy for the shop and choices I make, but the idea of someone coming in to judge and scrutinize what I was doing was certainly intimidating! I was excited to find after my first meeting and walk through with a member of Long Beach's office of Sustainability, that I had already completed much of the checklist! I was able to power through the remaining requirements to get Green Certified within one week of the original walkthrough, and was honored with other green businesses in a Ceremony at City Hall in March! I am so proud to be one of just 53 Green certified businesses in the city of Long Beach. This was important to me to both hold myself accountable for making environmentally conscious decisions for my business, and also to let my customers know they were supporting a business prioritizing these decisions at all levels of operation from water and energy efficiency, to buying eco-friendly supplies. See other local Green Businesses, or sign up to be certified here! Learn more about all the steps we are taking within our own four walls on our Transparency page here!
*image via @theslowfactory
While getting Green certified really focused on the operations of my business, I also wanted to add more efforts into my buying practices. I decided starting with orders placed for Fall/Winter 2020, I was going to order from clothing brands specifically using either organic or recycled/deadstock fabrics! All of my brands and products carried thus far have been made from natural fibers, but I wanted to push it even further. We are getting to a point in the industry and environment, where it's hard for me to find any excuse to not be creating new products with organic (meaning there was no use of chemicals, pesticides or toxins to grown the plant or create the fiber), or recycled/deadstock (meaning using only fabrics that already exist, have been reworked, or would have otherwise been waste if not reused or recycled into something new) fabric. While many brands offer a small percentage of their items in these types of fabrics, I have decided to focus on brands who produce nearly their entire collections with this in mind. This means our core brand roster will be paired down to just the most sustainable few, and we'll be continuing to search out and collaborate with small brands and designers with this similar ethos in mind to bring you new exciting, ethical designs. The other part of this of course, is ensuring the workers and manufacturers behind these brands are also being paid fair wages and producing in safe and healthy work environments. So we'll be excited to highlight more of the incredible brands we carry that meet these guidelines and share how and what they are doing with all of you.
*image of our in house residency with 323 taken by Steven Clouse
By scaling back and doing so mindfully in this way, I hope this will also allow me the opportunity to work more closely and more frequently with new small designers to create more collaborative designs and exclusive products for Burke. Whether that be small capsule collections or one of a kind pieces, there is so much opportunity to explore and bring you products that are not just sustainable, but also unique. Our residency program featuring product exclusives and rotating artists and designers has been so successful, and we want to expand on this idea in the shop even more to continue to introduce you to the real change makers in the industry, and incredible designers you've never heard of!
So for now, we are taking the current situation day by day and trying to get through this pandemic with our head above water, and keep everyone as safe as possible. We thank you so much for continuing to support us, and we hope you take advantage of some of our special sales during this time to help us continue to support our brands by paying for the orders we've committed to and fulfilling our role in the mutual relationship we have. Thank you, and Happy Fashion Revolution Week!!