When I was a teenager I sold out on one of my values, the freedom to make my own choices. I wanted to get a nose piercing and my parents cleverly offered me a pair of the coolest roller-blades if I agreed to wait until my eighteenth birthday. I never got the nose piercing…
I did, however, later reflect on how easily I traded away a core value for what was effectively a status symbol amongst my friends. I have later learnt that the most important thing is to stay true to those things you hold most precious, as this is what is going to make you happy in the long run. Even if it means that you will be poor for a while.
Frequently, small companies founded with passion and built on sound values, invite new investors in to help them grow their business. Some manage to preserve their values, others end up compromising in favour of profits and ultimately risk losing their authenticity.
We, the founders of VILDNIS decided never to compromise on our core values. The brand is fundamentally based on a strong wish to change the way the fashion industry works, and one of the most important values to us is our freedom to make our own decisions and stick with them.
If we ever need more investors in the company, they will be likeminded handpicked and in it for the long run. Philanthropists!
Apart from freedom, our values are honesty, transparency and trust. Important in isolation, each of these is closely linked to the others.
We value honesty and we want to be honest with you. It means sharing our results with regards to sustainability, positive as well as negative. And it entails being honest when making marketing claims. As an example, we will only call a product organic, if 100% of the linen or cotton content is organic. No half measures!
Transparency involves disclosing our annual targets and progress on social, environmental and economic areas, enabling you to fully understand what sustainability translates to in VILDNIS terms. Transparency is also something that we demand of our suppliers. We want to know who produces your clothes, who transports it etc. In our blog next week, you can read about one of the subcontractors producing for us in Portugal.
Working with suppliers abroad involves a great deal of trust. As one well-known American retailer experienced, it is sometimes extremely difficult to control the supply chain. So the story goes this retailer audited their clothing manufacturer at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh and established that the manufacturer didn’t live up to their ethical code of conduct. As a result, the retailer moved all production to another manufacturer. A few months later when the Rana Plaza building collapsed and 1134 factory workers were tragically killed, the retailer’s products were found in the rubble. How was this possible? According to reports, the new manufacturer had subcontracted the production to the old manufacturer at Rana Plaza without the retailer’s knowledge. Whether this story is true or not, only the retailer knows. Fact is that subcontracting is very common in the textile industry and many other brands will have experienced something similar, albeit with a less devastating outcome. As a brand, you need to either have eyes on the ground or be able to trust your supplier 100%.
At VILDNIS, we believe that trust builds trust. If you demonstrate to a supplier that you trust them, they will do their best to earn that trust. We are, however, not naive, which is why we have decided to start out by working exclusively with Portuguese factories operating under EU law, and why we also have eyes on the ground.
There will be times when things don’t go to plan and we won’t be able to deliver on our promises. We will, however, always stay true to our core values; freedom, honesty, transparency and trust.
And in that, you can trust!