My Little Green Wardrobe is two years old!
It’s hard to believe it’s been TWO years already, but also scarcely believable that it’s ONLY been two years.
It’s that same thing when you have a baby: you have no concept of time when you are in the middle of those long days and dark nights. You get to know new parts of yourself, previously undiscovered, and find you have talents in the most unlikely of places.
My affordable sustainable clothing brand has been the most needy of all the children I've had: It has been more time-consuming, resulted in more sleepless nights, and devoured more energy and money than I ever thought possible.
Running my business while on holiday in Mallorca - no problemo. Oh, wait...
And similarly to becoming brand new parents, no-one ever really tells you any of this ahead of time - or perhaps you just don’t really listen - armed as you are with a naive confidence.
Mine will be different.
And it’s only afterwards, when you get a knowing look and smile from others who have embarked on the same journey, that you get it.
If you knew then what you know now, you may never have done this crazy thing: jumping head-first into a passion project.
But if naivete was your superpower back then, it’s tenacity and resilience now.
Highs & Lows of running a sustainable brand
I’ll make no bones about it: launching a fledgling business at the tail-end of a pandemic, withstanding the cost-of-living crisis, and the other various challenges thrown at the economy has been T.O.U.G.H.
It can be a lonely road being an entrepreneur, when you have to motivate yourself every day, and be the sole decision-taker on every single thing.
There is no time off. You are always ‘on’ and ready to respond to customer requests, supplier emails and social media posts.
You thought holidays with kids have never been the same again. Try holidays with kids and a business. It’s a whole new level of adulting.
Trying to respond to a live chat with a customer through the website, while on a crowded bus in Mallorca with two children in tow, and navigating to a place to meet my husband was a low point.
Obviously, we missed our stop (quite substantially, I’ll add) and had a long walk back in the opposite direction.
Financially, the business isn’t where I hoped it would be - or, frankly, where it needs to be - and things are still very precarious.
My Little Green Wardrobe and Rockit Kids run the Thread Exchange at the Just So Festival 2022.
But, like Elton at Glastonbury, My Little Green Wardrobe is still standing - and there have been high points too: like being asked to front the Thread Exchange at Just So Festival last summer; being instrumental in the UK's first Organic Textile Week in May this year; and whenever/wherever we receive awesome customer feedback.
The business still has its mission statement intact and has held fast to its core idea: making it easy for busy parents to make better choices for their children; keeping sustainable clothing affordable; and trying to leave the world in a better place than we found it.
- Get Outside More with Your Kids - the 1000 Hours Challenge
- Beat the Heat: How to Keep Babies & Kids Cool in Hot Weather
So, here are my top achievements for the past year..
8 achievements as an affordable sustainable clothing brand
2. New brands
We’ve welcomed new affordable sustainable clothing brands to our stable - including most recently and Luca & Rosa - which specialises in comfortable organic kids clothes - and ILO Clothing, a Scandi organic baby & kids clothing brand.
3. Incredible collaborations
Whether it was an Instagram Live with the founder of Pop My Way on Plastic-Free July; top tips on reusable cloth nappies from the Nappy Lady; or an amazing Earth Day Giveaway with People Tree, Hay Max & Pip Organic, we've had some brilliant tips and advice - and awesome prizes from cracking sustainable brands.
4. Every order plants a tree
Previously, I ran promotions where we would plant a tree for every purchase over a specific period - eg, Black Friday. But I wanted to expand our impact so we were doing more, by extending this to every purchase. We partner with Ecologi in reforestation efforts in the UK and around the world.
5. Age range up to 12 years
It’s not ideal to stop at organic baby clothes, or organic clothes for pre-schoolers, so we’ve extended the range with a couple of brands up to 12 years - and will work hard to expand this offering going forwards.
6. Great Content
You may know that I was a BBC journalist for 15 years and I try to use my journalism skills to research articles about sustainability issues that matter to you.
Whether it’s about caring for your clothes in an eco-friendly way; or exploring ocean conservation for World Oceans Day; or explaining how organic baby clothes can help the climate, I always aim to bring you high-quality original content.
I was super proud that my article on greenwashing was in the top 10% most read content on Shopify in the UK.
7. Weaned the brand off paid ads
Paid Google ads and Facebook ads were killing the business - and saw it running through money like it was water.
In October, I decided this needed to change. Since then, I’ve seen far fewer sales, but also far less expense. Instead of waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering when we were going to run out of cash, at least I can sleep slightly better...
I’ve concentrated on nurturing existing relationships and organic traffic, which has seen a 50% uplift in average order value in recent months.
8. Kept the business going
And the biggest one of all is that My Little Green Wardrobe is still here!!!
Despite a cost of living crisis when so many independent brands (and big brands) have had to close their doors, I’m super proud that we’re still trading. It might be by the skin of our teeth, and I’ve had to make many difficult decisions, but we live to fight another day.
As the wonderful owner of Ducky Zebra, Sal, pointed out to me earlier this week, I have so much to be proud of.
I’d really like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful customers for shopping with us and spending their hard-earned money at My Little Green Wardrobe. Every sale truly means a lot. Thank you.
And to all the smart and talented people, and fellow small-business-owners (including you, Sal!) who have given me their support, time, encouragement and advice, I want to tell you your help and words of wisdom have been invaluable.
And most of all I need to express my gratitude to my long-suffering husband without whose encouragement and support none of this could have been possible.
Hopefully, there will be plenty more to come from my affordable sustainable clothing brand. So watch out for more lofty plans!
Over the next year, I want to:
- Add a circular element to MLGW - a takeback scheme or similar.
- Continue adding fantastic sustainable clothing brands - both independent sustainable kids clothing labels you’ve never heard of, along with tried and tested brands you’ve loved for years.
- Keep sustainable clothing affordable - you can still buy certified organic kids' leggings of the absolute highest quality from £10 at My Little Green Wardrobe - or less if we have a promotion.
- Add some new sustainable gifting options for babies and kids.
And if you have any ideas for how to improve My Little Green Wardrobe or awesome brands you want to see, or get in touch and tell me you love what we do (please do, it's what keeps me going!) please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
And last but not least, happy birthday to My Little Green Wardrobe!