Play-by-Play: An inside look at how we manufacture our sustainable swagby Jamie Concannon
The time has come for sustainable swag to become the norm, and transparency is a key part of making that happen.
Swag needs to change. Both in terms of the quality of the product and the sustainable practices used to make it, we want to do our bit to help change the conversation.
We think this will really begin to resonate with people if we show them what we do. Like, really show them. Rather than just putting out a vague promise of "we're different to those other brands," we're offering a behind-the-scenes look at how things operate.
First up, we're shining a light on the manufacturing processes we use to make our sustainable swag. From our custom-made Hawaiian shirts and shorts, to bucket hats, Christmas sweaters and hoodies, we want to show you how we make the swag you love.
The people making it happen
The vast majority of our apparel comes from one specific factory in China, and building a relationship with the staff is something that we've always prioritised. We're constantly engaged with them and we are always trying to protect both the staff and the product.
That level of engagement is particularly important when it comes to protecting the factory's staff. Yes, there are regular audits in China to protect workers' rights, but it's still important to maintain a regular line of contact. We understand that any business needs to control their costs. Buying swag is no different. But for us, it's important that the manufacturers we work with are ethical, that they are paying their employees properly and giving them the days off they need. But they can only do that if they're receiving a reasonable fee on the other side.
For Roody, it's important for us that we get face-to-face with the people who make the product. We need to be confident in their manufacturing processes. There can't be horrible practices - working through the night, staff being squeezed impossibly on ridiculous deadlines.
So seeing our manufacturing partners in China at work, spending a couple of days on site, having a chat with staff, walking around the factory, seeing their break times, getting a sense of the work culture, this is crucial to the product we make.
Our partners have fair and ethical processes - a two-and-a-half hour lunch break where people bring their kids in. And there's a basketball court in the factory where they go out and they play and they sit and have their lunch during the day.
Making it simple
Traditionally, swag was straightforward and cheap for the customer to order. They picked out some generic products, slapped a logo onto it and delivered it to wherever it needed to go.
That process is not only ineffective at creating any real resonance with the recipient, but it is also harmful to the environment as well. An unnecessarily complicated supply chain and mass-produced products aside, a lot of it ended up going straight to waste in a landfill site somewhere.
Our supply chain is really simple. We're making it in our in our partner factories in China, we know exactly where our products are made with full traceability of the material. When you click on on our swag with the intention of making a purchase, you can so do in the knowledge that every single item has been put through a rigorous process to ensure it's made using the most sustainable materials available, that it's the best version of the product you want, that it will be loved by the recipient.
That's the core of what we're doing. It's faster, it's quicker and people are getting paid properly. The alternative is dozens of middlemen, everyone taking a cut and not enough filtering down to the workers. Once the factory is getting paid, it means the workers are getting paid.
Sustainable to the core
One of the main reasons behind this simplified supply chain was for our brand to be as sustainable as possible. There is no point in making one or two token measure in this regard given the urgency of the situation, so it carries into other areas of our business operations.
Much of it comes down to having an attention to detail; keeping sustainability top of mind whenever we're making decisions in the business.
One of the things we do is we plant one tree for every item we make. It's not just a gimmick. What we're doing is we're offsetting all our shipping by planting those trees, but we're also offsetting the impact of the electricity, all of that stuff on the apparel.
Waste is one of the most common pitfalls for businesses to damage their standing as a sustainable company, and one of the most damaging to the environment. Products ending up in a landfill is not going to do any good for your business of the climate, so ensuring a zero waste policy for our manufacturing procedures is crucial.
When we ask for 234 sweaters, our manufacturing partners buy enough fabric for 235 sweaters and that’s the number that will be made. There will be no waste. They'll make one sample that they hold, and if you come back and say I want one more, they have to go and buy more yarn.
Sustainable action only takes hold when it is embraced into all areas of business, from daily overhead charges to office practices and overall culture. We're able to stand behind our sustainable swag and the fact that we are making an effort to reduce our impact on the climate.
There are bundles of techniques we're using to minimise water, minimise electricity, minimise all of that stuff along the way. We understand every single step of our manufacturing process because we're regularly on the ground, we know the workers, we've witnessed their work culture.
It's a basic requirement that every swag company in the world should adhere to and one we would expect you as an informed consumer of swag to demand.
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