One of the reasons that we started Meow Meow Tweet was to bring a small bit of positivity into our community by finding a way to meet the practical needs and desires of those around us. While we love soap, we are also greatly inspired by a movement of urban homesteaders that grow window and/or rooftop gardens, keep worm bins in their tiny kitchens and make the things that we’ve previously relied on unknown producers for. Needless to say, we were and remain somewhat idealistic about what a simple bar of soap or red wiggler can do.
Something especially inspiring is how people come together to pool their resources and their respective skills to make business and life better for all of us. Evidence of this can be seen at unique events that bring dissimilar but friendly vendors together, like the Vegan Shop-Up or pop-ups organized by Brooklyn Dry Goods and the like. We admire the New-New etsy crew, for their commitment to collectivity, a sure-fire way of getting shit done and being noticed. Krrb.com promotes neighborly living, commerce and sharing in-person. We also appreciate people who teach their craft, promote others, or provide advice; sharing knowledge is one of the best (r)evolutionary acts. Five great women come to mind: Liz Neves from Raganella, vermicomposter Amanda Matles, Megan Paska from Brooklyn Homesteader, Rena Tom's retail strategies and of course Karen Seiger of Markets of New York.
However dreamy we may be, one thing has shown itself to be as pervasive in this community driven movement as anywhere, and it’s why this blog post came about. Bad mouthing and competitiveness. While for the most part we try to keep the company of folks that are supportive, inspired and positive- there are instances where we find ourselves in circumstances where a “disgruntled/threatened business” will criticize and belittle the goods, even practices of another small-timer. We’re not against competition- no way! We believe in it as a motivating and propelling force, however, we think that it can have a positive or negative role, and we opt for the former.
Often this kind of treatment is given to those that run a business which shares similar products or services and thereby clientele. However, while we may be categorically alike, we are all characteristically different. So why not get along? For every person making something there are hundreds if not thousands of people out there ready and characteristically fitted to consume that something. So let’s be supportive of one another. In my mind, if we’re all working toward a more ethical and sustainable future, we should feel good about consumers that make the decision to support us, whether or not they’re specifically clicking your shopping cart. If we’re really here for the ethics of it all and not the dollar signs, we want our community to support the way of life that we’re all creating and not just what we are making.
So this is my quiet and somewhat innocuous call to arms. Stop bad-mouthing one another, support the work of your fellow maker because they are in it with you. If they do well, ultimately, we all do well. Whatever shortcomings encountered in your business is ultimately on you; so don’t scapegoat someone else because of their success. After all, we all entered the marketplace with ideals that existed before making our first sale; the marketplace is merely the conduit for promoting and supporting those ideals. And for those of you out there that have spread the good word about someone else, thank you, you’re why we do this.
To be honest, everyone is going to have a slightly different idea of what ethically sourced means, which is why it's difficult to define. But most people understand ethical sourcing as sourcing ingredients and materials in a responsible and sustainable manner that considers the people and environment throughout the process.
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