(written by Fog & Moon designer Tanya Te Miringa Te Rorarangi Ruka)
Firstly, we recently posted on our social media pages that we have been invited to contribute to the Social Enterprise World Forum in September. We are really looking forward to learning, sharing and connecting.
“The Social Enterprise World Forum 2017 is an international event for social enterprises from all over the world to come together, share wisdom, build networks and discuss how to create a more sustainable future. The event attracts social enterprise practitioners, social entrepreneurs, policy makers, community leaders, investors, activists, academics and more from across the globe.” – (website)
The SEWF will be 3 days of seminars, workshops and interactive sessions. It is a huge opportunity for us and we are grateful to the the Akina foundation too for funding our journey.
I will be sharing and gathering as much information and imagery as possible and uploading to Facebook and I will also write a post about it too. We have been asking for connection and community and we have certainly been answered!
Secondly, I have been sitting with this post for a while I collated my research to assess all the quotes and costings for our materials. The intention, essence wairua or mauri of our Fog & Moon is our complete respect for the materials we are working with, the environment and the people or communities that are involved in their making.
To highlight the cost to create a Fog & Moon piece from high quality Belgian linen per metre, this is sourcing our linen from the most ethical, transparent, organic, sustainable, zero waste company, here is a cost breakdown of what is involved.
$53.88 NZD (at today’s exchange rate – not incl. *freight)
$2 NZD other costs thread/ incidentals
$20 – $30+ (cost sewing ‘per piece’ seamstress / seamster hourly).
Total cost approx per metre to produce $75.88 – $85.88+ (NZD).
To shops – 30% Wholesale (natural flax packaging included in here): $98.64 NZD.
*All going well with no unforseen expenses during production Fog & Moon will make around $2.76 profit per metre for our research.
In the future if we want to sell through retailers:
The retail shop will mark up by 100% (at least) to cover their costs, which means we would need to mirror these prices to be fair to our retailers = $197.29 NZD per metre.
As an example, a Queen Size Quilt would cost $341.46+ to produce + 30% wholesale = $443.90.
=Retail $887.80 NZD or $642.94 USD + shipping $20.
Keeping all other costs to the absolute minimum but fairly. This is the cost for a small business to ethically (minus carbon footprint), sustainably, socially & organically produce a linen product in New Zealand. Freight and carbon foot print are not included in this cost yet as I do not have the figures, but because the material will have to crisscross the oceans to get all the way to New Zealand there will be a high carbon foot print – still not good enough.
Market/ Price Research:
If we compare the cost to source our materials and produce an item, with a big retailer e.g. Kmart, 1 pair of cotton sheets = $45NZD. Instantly I am thinking $45 (!) how?! I understand that this is a megastore & their sister company is Target in US, but still I want to know how they can achieve this low price. Then I see ‘Australian Grown Cotton’ on the label. I do some more research and I find they have surveyed their customer base to define what their consumer wants or expects from their products. Apparently 53% of their surveyed customers wanted Australian grown cotton (43% Organic Australian Grown) as they believed it was a superior product from others on the market -excellent. Kmart have used this information to form their sustainability program -great. You can see Rick Lambert talking about Kmart and their Sustainable Development Program prior to the launch of their Australian Grown Cotton campaign in March this year here.
I have already posted about the non-organic growing processes of natural fibres. While I think, Kmart is making a positive step, in supporting local farming, it is not completely sustainable. We believe, there should be no excess chemicals in the ground, on the table, in the home or in the air if you live next to a farm. The research is growing around how excess chemicals and pesticides lead to various forms of cancer. We would like to see continued support in industry pushed right through to organic and zero waste processing, as these methods are better (health wise) for the growers and their families as well as consumers and the environment. This also further illustrates the need for New Zealand to organically produce its own materials on a local scale, reducing costs and creating more income for our farmers and growers.
Internationally Agroecology is being thoroughly and successfully explored; community and social enterprise are strong components as well as stewardship or kaitiakitanga of the environment. Growth of world community responsibility, where people take care of each other is what we want, and we need these ideas and concepts to flow strongly through industry. We are researching and exploring agroecology more fully through our Positive by Nature project.
To quote the Social Enterprise World Forum “Social enterprise plays an important role in building healthy communities – they reduce poverty, build food systems, celebrate diversity, promote Indigenous culture, meet health needs, create employment opportunities for those with barriers, deliver community owned energy and address environmental issues, economic inequality and social exclusion.”
Fog & Moon is a small business that wishes to maintain an ethical and sustainable journey. We have obtained quotes for other linens and textiles at a much lower cost from sources around the world (eg. $3.95 USD per metre being the lowest).
1. It is not organic linen. This is our main concern, I started this research because I wanted to be able to provide materials that are safe and healthy for children. I find it hard to even think about using any materials other than linen and definitely not non organic when designing for children. Often the word organic can create tension with growers because of the long process and time frame involved to get farms to the organic certified standards. We learned an interesting term the other day ‘transitional cotton/ linen or goods’. We are going to explore and research further and write about it in our next post, we think it could make switching to organic a more tempting prospect to develop with our growing methodologies.
2. The mere fact that this linen is so cheap $3.95 per metre, means that someone or some people are not being paid fairly, during the production of these materials. There is a good article outlining what ethical means for artisans and producers here.
We are learning so much on this journey and our online store will be a bit longer in the making. Finding the origin of materials is time consuming, meeting the costs fairly is difficult as a small business and designing a product that exemplifies the standard of the price takes time to perfect. As we progress we will continue to design exclusive pieces and offer them in our Facebook shop and we will post them to our social media when they are available. Our intention or kaupapa was to grow slowly from the ground up, establishing ourselves as a trusted brand and we also knew that this would take time. We are continuing to research and develop our ideas and concepts, making connection and building our community will be key to our survival in so many ways. The good news is our research is being accepted readily by interested parties who would like to see an organic and sustainable plant based textile industry thriving in New Zealand. We will continue to keep you updated with our progress.
(Post Images Jay & I are wearing Fog & Moon | Black 100% pure linen jacket, black & also white scarf)