In thinking about what kind of message we wanted to put out there for Earth Day this year, we were conflicted. The "every day is Earth Day" message, though dear to our hearts, could come off as sounding a bit corny year after year. As we racked our brains for some grand gesture to show how much we love the Earth – how we are the BEST, and the BIGGEST lovers of the Earth, damn it! – we started to realize that many of you in our growing network may not even realize that Kindred Black was founded in an effort to help reduce the "fashion footprint". Because the message isn't always so front and center, you may not know that we created KB because we found that there just aren't enough options for those of us that love fashion and design but realize that the items we covet may not be all that good for the planet. We wanted a place to connect shoppers with artisans, designers, and makers of all kinds that are committed to eco-friendly, ethical, and low-impact manufacturing. So instead of the grand gesture, or a sale to induce you to buy more (sorry guys…), today we wanted to take a minute to talk about why every day really is Earth Day at Kindred Black.
We founded Kindred Black in 2015 because we were burnt out on the fashion industry. Feeling like we were drowning in a sea of plastic packaging waste, harsh fabric chemicals, and endless travels through countries with little regulation on manufacturing (and the air quality to prove it), we knew it was time for a change. But like so many decisions in life, this was not easy territory. To turn our backs on what we love and are good at didn't feel right. To make a career of something so hard on our consciences felt wrong and disingenuous too. Did it have to be the cat walk or a yurt and a compost heap?! Kindred Black was the grey born out of this very black and white problem. We like to think of it as glamping in our luxury cyber-yurt.
From the moment we conceived of our new endeavor we made the decision that instead of being the "please recycle this plastic bag" kind of company, we were going to take the onus of environmentalism on ourselves, and make the tough and sometimes expensive choices that that would necessitate. In other words, talking about how important sustainability is means nothing if we dump it all squarely on your shoulders to deal with. We want you to love shopping with Kindred Black because we are luxury fashion and beautiful, unusual finds, but behind the scenes, there's more to it than that.
What we often put forward is how we source our products. We travel, we research, we talk to just about anyone we end up in a room with and get recommendations, all to find natural ingredients, low-waste packaging, the use of recycled materials, manufacturing in the US or that's local to the designer and often family run. We work with jewelers, cleaners, seamstresses, and tailors to bring the life back to beautiful pre-owned, vintage, and handmade pieces that are special and one-of-kind and best of all, already exist and don't require a single bit of waste to produce. We believe so fervently that new doesn't always mean better and there is no greater expression of personal style than a piece that you won't see anywhere else.
What's lesser known is that we spend up to double in some cases to make sure that all of our packaging is in line with our mission. Our materials are plastic free and we use recycled boxes, recycled tissue paper, recycled kraft and shipping paper, water activated paper tape, and our signature floral paper is made with 100% PCW and is printed near our office with vegetable and soy inks. Even our note cards, shipping labels, and stickers are recycled paper. Our canvas dustbags are made in the USA from 65% cotton yarn made from the waste of US clothing manufacturers and 35% recycled soda bottles. To replace plastic bubble wrap we use the most amazing and effective paper padding called Green Wrap, an alternative to plastic landfill that is biodegradable, compostable, SFI-certified, and fully recyclable.
In the relatively short life of Kindred Black we've made giving back a big part of our mission as well. Over the last two and a half years we've donated percentages of our sales to The Durrell Foundation, The Environmental Defense Fund, Planned Parenthood, and Native Seeds in Arizona. Since day one we've been members of 1% For the Planet, a foundation started in 2001 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies. Passionate environmentalists, the two men created a small alliance of businesses that committed to donate 1% of their sales every year to environmental groups. As the network has grown, 1% members have now raised more than 175 million dollars for environmental initiatives. The invaluable lesson we've learned - just start giving where you can, even if it's small at first. There's probably a metaphor about a seed becoming a tree but you get the gist.
We have so much more in store this year and none of this would mean anything without you. We started this business thinking that the environmental aspects of Kindred Black would be for us, that any initiatives that we decided to implement would stay largely behind the scenes and part of an internal company ethos – but we were so wrong! Through e-mails, DM's, and little love notes left on orders we've been so inspired by your energy and palpable desire for a different kind of sustainable shopping. So maybe we don't need to be embarrassed after all – let every day be earth day for all of us.
–– Jenn and Alice