I think many of us struggle with this puzzle. My next post or two or 10 or more will share with you some of my experience of juggling life and home and entrepreneurship. I also plan to use this space to answer as many business questions as I feel able to, so feel free to send me your questions. Let the journey venture forth. . . thanks for coming along.
A couple of months ago we did a printing experiment with a USA printer. We used existing screens (Sweet Jane & Let it Grow) and printed them in new colorways. We printed on organic white jersey, natural sateen, natural flannel and natural denim. I posted the colorways on our facebook page and got feedback from from our fans to determine which colors we printed. We offered special wholesale pricing to our existing customers if they pre-ordered a roll before production. By knowing the demand before printing we were able to do some exciting and custom production runs. (Example: One new company wanted denim so we put a special roll of denim in for them.)
So, was the experiment a success? Yes. There are still kinks to get worked out and we learned several things along the way (like don't trust the printers estimate of the pallet's weight - they under estimated it by half!) but all in all I think it was a positive experience.
HUGE thanks goes out to all the pre-orderers! YOU made it possible. I welcome any and all feedback you may have from your perspective. Would you pre-order again? Did you like the quality of the printing? I'd like to hear from YOU!
If we do another, I am leaning towards: Sweet Jane (original pink), Ohio (maybe in new colors) or Uncomplicated (maybe in new colors). Uncomplicated is a large scale floral.
To give you and idea of scale of Uncomplicated, you can see it in use as our studio curtain. It was originally printed on twill but I am thinking maybe sateen this time around.
NOTE: This USA printer is NOT GOTS certified. Which is not ideal but if we decide the relationship is working, and we bring them enough business, then we can then start putting some real pressure on them to make the GOTS commitment.
Over the last 7 years, I have watched the organic textile industry evolve and progress. I have been keeping careful tabs on the labels and what they mean. Authenticity and accountability for the environmental and social impact of textile production are why I launched Harmony Art and it has definitely been a journey!
Certification Status Report
2004 - OTA adopts American Organic Fiber Processing Standard (AOFPS).
2005 - Harmony Art organic design is founded. 40 different "eco fabric" standards exist.
2005 - Harmony Art chooses the OTA's AOFPS for her fabrics.
2006 - Global Organic Textile Standard - GOTS version 1 is finalized.
2007 - Harmony Art fabrics produced in India are 3rd party certified to GOTS.
2008 - GOTS logo (below) is introduced.
NOV. 2011 - Harmony Art applies for GOTS certification!
DEC. 2011 - Harmony Art warehouse is inspected by OneCert. (blog post)
2012 - It's official HARMONY ART BECOMES GOTS CERTIFIED and PRESS RELEASE is issued.
*What does this mean? Nothing and everything. Nothing because the fabric has already been made and certified to GOTS standards. Everything because we (Fox-Rich/Organic Cotton Plus & Harmony Art) are some of the VERY first distributors not only to sell GOTS certified fabrics but to BE GOTS certified.
So, what does that mean? Well, for ANY product to carry the GOTS logo ALL of the "chain of command" upstream need to be certified. Example: If you were to make baby clothes and you sourced GOTS fabrics and wanted to use the GOTS logo on your hang tags, your fabric supplier (not the fabric itself) would need to be GOTS certified AND your facility would also need to go through the certification process. This step now opens the doors for any of our customers to pursue GOTS certification themselves for their end products.
Why has it taken us so long to take this leap you ask? Well, two reasons -- 1. We wanted to be sure the certification had the momentum to be THE organic fabric certification 2. It's expensive!
Why is this important? Well, remember "organic" food before the NOP logo? That's the stage we are in now and certification is an important step in keeping organic fabrics authentic and easily identifiable to the end consumer. We feel strongly that this step not only supports our customers but the organic fiber world as a whole.
The journey continues. To stay informed on a more day-to-day basis please "like" us on Facebook and watch our News page.
Thanks for being a part of this evolution.
Last week I flew to the Carolinas to visit my warehouse and to be there for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) inspection. As you may have read in this post, Harmony Art has applied for GOTS certification through OneCert.
Above is a picture of our fabric stored at our warehouse in Starr, South Carolina. We have been using the same warehouse for several years now and it has been wonderful. Peggy (who handles shipping my rolls) is a real gem! The shipments are tracked and shipped in a timely and thoughtful manner. I feel incredibly happy to have them on the Harmony Art team.
Karlin was the certifier from OneCert who met us at the warehouse. The inspection took 3.5 hours. I knew Peggy and Michael kept a clean and well organized system so I was not at all surprised when in the exit interview under the section: Inspection Observations and Issues of Concern Karlin wrote, "Facility found to be very clean and records were organized and easy to trace. No issues of concern."
What happens now? Well, it's a bit of a waiting game. Karlin will submit her report and someone else at OneCert will review it for approval. I am told this process will take 2-3 weeks. My fingers are crossed that we will be able to start the new year with Harmony Art being officially GOTS certified. Stay tuned. I promise to keep you posted.
NOTE: If you are in need of a good warehouse in the south, feel free to contact me. They still have room for a few more customers and as you can guess I would highly recommend them!
After being inspired by Edward Norton and The Green Bag Lady, my new goal is to turn my home town of Gualala into a plastic bag free zone. This post by Treehugger is the perfect example of how to turn the serious, ugly problem of plastic bags into a huge win for not only the planet but the effort to clean up our watersheds as well. The 5 cent plastic bag tax has reduced the average number of bags handed out per month in Washington DC from 22.5 million to 3 million! It has also generated $150,000 in revenue to help clean up the Anacostia River.
My first step is to meet with our local grocery store owners and see if I can get them "on board". I already have The Green Bag Lady agreeing to do events in Gualala in July when she is visiting, and a radio interview with her set up with our local radio station. Stay tuned and wish me luck! Any suggestions and encouragement are welcome.