5 years ago I quit my job in marketing to follow a long held dream to start an ethical fashion company that Steph and I had talked about for over a decade! At the time we didn't know how it would go and many people thought we were crazy. Ethical fashion was still very niche, barely talked about, certainly not desirable. Steph and I, whilst passionate and enthusiastic, were novices when it came to many aspects of running a business. In terms of investment we scraped together a small amount through a crowd-funding campaign and put some of our own savings in to set up the website and buy our first season's stock, without knowing whether there would ever be a second season. You could say the odds were stacked against us - and it is with that in mind that I am very proud and happy that here we are today celebrating our 5th anniversary, still going strong, still passionate and very much a part of what is thankfully a massively growing movement towards a more sustainable fashion industry.
It definitely hasn't been easy. We'll be the first to admit we've made mistakes and our backs have been up against the wall from time to time. Retail is a hard business at the best of the times - these last couple of years in particular have tested us and we have had to adapt and change accordingly to ensure that our sustainable business is in fact sustainable. Both becoming Mums (4 babies between us in 4 years) has been magical but also exhausting and at times confusing, as we grapple between our real babies and our work baby, not wanting to let either side down. Our families and husbands have been long-suffering and constant sources of support. It has been a learning curve and a test of nerves but the over-riding feeling is a sense of pride for what the business has grown into and determination to keep going.
One of the whole reasons for starting G&S was that we couldn't find sustainable fashion we actually wanted to wear. Thankfully now we are inundated with brands who are keen to work with us - there has been a massive growth in awareness about ethical and sustainable fashion in the past 5 years. We no longer get blank looks when we tell people what we do, instead the response is one of genuine interest and recognition that what we are doing is worth while. We truly believe that we are part of a movement that is going places, and that can have a genuinely positive impact on the planet and the wellbeing of garment industry workers. Ethical fashion is the future of fashion and we are so excited to see where the next 5 years will take us.
I can't quite believe it has been 5 years. It has been a hugely challenging but rewarding experience. To be part of a movement that is gaining momentum is very inspiring. Gather&See was a far off dream at the beginning of my twenties so I feel very proud to think we have set it up and we are still here! It's been a huge challenge from day one - trying to navigate our way through the world of online retail has been no easy task - especially when sustainable & ethical fashion is still a relatively new concept. Running your own business is tough especially when you add two children under 2 and move across continents into the mix. In all honesty there have been many times when Alicia and I have thought about throwing it all in but some how we keep on going, believing in a passion for change in fashion but also knowing that we provide a platform for many of our loyal customers!