Trying to navigate the problematic world of fashion and garment printing can be exhausting. As a CIC who raises profits through garment printing we’re trying our hardest to take the most ethical and sustainable route possible while still being an accessible and affordable service, particularly for those who experience social and economic disadvantages. We would like to be transparent about our journey, and we welcome you to keep demanding more from us!
So what makes us ethical, or on our way to being a fully ethical business? Well as an organisation that is still in its toddler years, we’re not quite 100% there yet. This is a learning curve for us but we are trying our hardest and we feel like we’re on the right path.
OUR PRINTING TECHNIQUE
We decided to invest in a Brother DTG-341 printer and print in CMYK only. We chose to buy a Brother printer as they rank highest in the Ethical Company Index while also being a brand that we know and trust.
By using a digital printer we offer a direct to garment printing process which produces drastically less waste than most traditional screen printing techniques. In fact, in our first year of printing we printed approx ## items, and our entire ink wastage could fit into a pint glass. We do not require vast amounts of chemicals and/or water to clean our equipment daily. We don’t even have a sink in our studio.
Occasionally misprints occur, which is an unavoidable part of printing. C’est la vie. We re-use these garments within the studio as much as possible for test prints, but once they have had their day we cut them into strips to make t-shirt yarn which we then donate to crafters and organisations for craft workshops and macrame products.
Unlike most suppliers, we only stock Continental Clothing at this time (April 2019). We refuse to work with any supplier who have links to slave/exploitative labour, (and let’s be honest, most of them have) and we will only ever use organic or recycled garments. At this moment in time that leaves us with Continental Clothing only. If you are aware of another supplier that you think fits this bill then please get in touch to let us know, but for now we’re continental only. This does mean, from time to time, if continental is out of stock of a specific item then so are we. A compromise we are more than happy to make as we like to follow the slow fashion route for a better life for everyone involved. We fully believe in people over profit.
Our inks are eco-friendly, plastic free, water based and non-toxic. While not certified vegan, they do not contain any animal derivatives and have not been tested on animals. They are STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® verified and are approved for application in the processing of GOTS certified textile products, which all of our garments are.
While these inks are environmentally friendly, they could be harmful should a high concentration in pre-printed liquid form be mixed with aquatic life. This is an unlikely scenario, and we do not dispose of waste ink into the water supply. We probably have another good year or 2 before our 2 litre waste bottle fills up and we are currently looking for creative ways for this ink to be ‘reused’ instead of needing disposed of.
100% of our profits go towards our social aims. We are a registered Community Interest Company (SC571888) that is limited by guarantee. We are asset locked, which means that we don’t have shareholders getting rich from our profits and we can never sell the business for profit. ALL of our profits go towards supporting woman and people from marginalised gender groups who are experiencing loneliness and isolation. We’re still relatively new, so our social impact isn’t huge yet, but we hope that over the next few years we can help create safe spaces across Glasgow to tackle the daily isolation that so many face.
We are a living wage employer. As a pretty small organisation we only have 3 staff members at the moment. 2 full time paid staff, and the director who works full time but chooses to work pro-bono until the company is sustainable. We are a company that believes in the power of diversity and opportunity, so we only employ people who experience social and/or economic barriers to employment.
We also vow to make sure that there is never more than a 100% increase in wages from the lowest to the highest position. That means if an intern or trainee is on £17,000 then the CEO will not be on any more than £34,000.
We aim to always be transparent about what we’re up to, especially with our finances. We will post our annual accounts and staff wages on our finance page. We know we’re bound to make mistakes as we go along. Starting a new business is hard, starting a business that intends on delivering maximum social impact is even harder, but we’ll always be honest about the highs and the lows.