Shopping – do you ever give it much thought?
Of course, you see an item of clothing you want – you go in, try it on, see if you can afford to buy it (doesn’t really matter if you can or can’t), buy it, get it all wrapped up in pretty paper then put in a bag. You then continue to shop or head home so that you can quickly try your new garment on with the accessories you have. Or, did you buy accessories to go with your new garment? Of course, you will want to try them all on with the shoes you have. Or, did you buy shoes too? Did you buy the bag to go with that outfit? Did you buy new nail polish or makeup? Can’t wait to get the whole ensemble together to see how it all looks – rip off that paper, packaging, plastic and admire yourself in the mirror making little adjustments to your outfit – BEAUTIFUL.
All this for an outfit – what a very successful day. You have bought, you are happy with the new look you have created for yourself and you can’t wait to get out to wear it in public.
Then there is your supermarket shopping – what a pain – not at all pleasant like shopping for clothes can be. Grab that trolley (after putting in your coin), rush up and down aisles throwing in packets of whatever you need – biscuits, flour, cake mix, pasta, bread, sugar, coffee…
Many of us do our supermarket shopping until our trolley is overflowing, without any real plan of how much we need and how much we will use, but what’s left over, we will just throw it out after it goes mouldy in the refrigerator – no biggie.
The above examples are barely scratching the surface of our purchasing habits – often referred to as ‘consumerism’.
Ainsley Schumacher wanted to create a community that supports businesses, both small and large, that are making positive changes to the way business is done and has built an online marketplace that will become a one-stop ethical shopping platform. Focused on creating a community filled with like-minded people from all areas from artisans, makers, fair-trade advocates to those who are driving the way in sustainable lifestyle products and living, KNOWN EFFECTS was born.
Their vision is to create awareness for consumers about the known effects of ethical consumerism, along with changing the buyer pattern to adjust how businesses do business and making conscious choices in purchasing more sustainable, longer life-cycled products.
But why you might ask? What’s wrong with the way we are doing things now? Ainsley answers –
“In our travels around the world in our early 20’s, naïve to say the most, we were confronted with atrocious working conditions in some countries we had visited. When we started to look further into the process of how clothing is made in manufacturing companies we were incredibly disheartened to learn the answer that that ‘bargain’ $3 shirt was actually only possible because of horrendous working conditions, next to nothing pay rates, child labour…these kids would have been the same age as my children now and I look at them and couldn’t imagine having to put them into that environment. Everything about some of these places made us angry, sad but motivated in wanting to make a difference.
“Then KNOWN EFFECTS was founded, in 2015. In this time we had taken every step we could to gather as much research and talk to many businesses to evaluate if people needed this type of marketplace in their lives and lucky for us this was definitely missing. In 2016 we started to build the KNOWN EFFECTS marketplace from the ground up.
“Our motivation is that the reality is, no-person or business is perfect, but if we combine our knowledge, experience, failures, achieved goals and grow together so we can help each other reach the same end goal of more ethical and sustainable businesses, products making fair-trade priority on the larger scale and pushing the larger companies to be responsible for their products, including all of their workers and environmental impact.”
It is not only the younger generation who are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of chemicals in our foods, beauty products etc, the 45 – 65 age bracket also demonstrate a consumer awareness surrounding the importance of purchasing ethical, natural and/or organic products. The shift to purchasing natural and organic products has stemmed from consumers becoming aware of marketing loop holes surrounding product labelling and this education has driven some consumers to properly consider what they are buying, putting into or on their bodies and back into the environment. But packaging is one of our worst enemies.
“As consumers we buy a product we want but don’t put much thought into the packaging because we just want what is inside, no real thought about what happens when we throw the packaging away. Annie Leonard, American proponent of sustainability and a critic of consumerism quoted that ‘There is no ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.’ She is right, it has to go somewhere, and that place is into our earth, to undeveloped countries that don’t have the resources or capacity to handle the rubbish, into the air we breathe and the ocean we are surrounded by. This ‘away’ is slowly coming around full-circle and will impact us all if we don’t take control, educate and enforce changes,” says Ainsley.
“For businesses we understand that creating sustainable products can be a major shift in an already made process, however when we join forces and give each other guidance we can start to feel confident in making changes to our production to become sustainable, even when it starts with packaging,” Ainsley continued.
Having personal experience in running both a physical and online store, Ainsley found that the main downfall of physical stores is the overheads that are associated with brick and mortar set up. From electricity to rubbish – a bricks and mortar store has a much higher negative impact on the environment than an online store that lives and breathes in a digital world. Instantly, an online store is more sustainable to the environment than a physical one.
“Some new and established businesses are confused and overwhelmed by the digital landscape and struggle to create an online shop that not only functions correctly, but isn’t costly to create and will be visible on search engines to the online shopper. This is another reason that brands like to align to KNOWN EFFECTS as we take care of all this of this in-house. We set up your store and even have an in-house social media expert to help grow the brand online by engaging directly with specific target consumers.”
A community is important to KNOWN EFFECTS, like a large family that all have common interests and goals. The KNOWN EFFECTS community is not just the KNOWN EFFECTS brands (sellers), they are a community filling up with other businesses that are striving in the same direction. They are people who want to really make a difference and know that creating a community will make a much stronger impact.
“We have started growing our community, networking and talking to other bigger businesses on things we can do and plan for in the future to spread the word about Ethical and Sustainable consumerism. We have recently created a Facebook page for makers and designers to have a positive forum for business to grow their businesses by asking questions, posting DIY videos, lessons learnt from mistakes, all the areas small businesses can feel secluded in and unsure on where to approach their questions – we created a non-judgemental forum.”
Aligning with KNOWN EFFECTS helps brands find and connect with their ideal customer through networking events, social media, traditional media coverage and more.
“We provide that extra hand every business needs, to reach out to more potential unfound customers. We find this helps businesses, particularly in their first 6-months of trading, as new business owners are too busy to wear every hat from accounting, to marketing, to sales. We are able to partner with them, escalate the process of engaging consumers and take the stress of sales and lead generation out of the first 6-months of operation. This is how we are supporting and growing small Australian businesses.
“The brands we support under KNOWN EFFECTS range from handmade organic clothing, homewares, sustainable timber products (they grow their own trees!), eco-home improvement products, food, vegan make-up, organic skincare – the works!”
KNOWN EFFECTS would not be sustainable without an up-cycled category for brands that have the talent to turn things that are heading to landfill into some new, exciting and useful. This further allows them to support sustainable brands and create a hub for consumers to purchase new and reinvented sustainable items.
There are certain criteria which must be adhered to, to be a part of the KNOWN EFFECTS community. Unlike other marketplaces that tend to get out of hand with the grey area of ‘Handmade’, KNOWN EFFECTS has created an application with a few simple questions upon becoming a vendor via their website.
“We require all brands to subscribe to World Fair Trade Organisation guidelines and our internal sustainable requirements are that if a product claims to be sustainable, we require information into the life-cycle of the products, materials used and product creation process in order to ensure the product is safe to be promoted via the KNOWN EFFECTS platform. We have a ZERO plastic policy, as one of our biggest goals at KNOWN EFFECTS is to eliminate all plastics in business and we require our brands encompass this same ideology and move toward a plastic-free world,” said Ainsley.
“We want every business to succeed. Our first priority is to make sure all our brands have the help and guidance they need so we have implemented a Brands first process where we check in with all our brands to keep up to date, help out where we can, offer advice where we are fit to do so and brain storming. We know it can be hard on your own so we have been doing some email brain storming to help our brands grow in the direction they want to go. The benefit is that brands that are serious about ethically made products are surrounded by other brands that have the same drive and passion.”
But why should we choose natural?
Ainsley explains, “when we choose products that have ingredients that have been sustainably made, we are benefiting ourselves by putting less harmful chemicals and nasties onto and into our body, this varies from beauty products, food, clothing to sanitary products all which are quite often made with harmful ingredients.
“When products are made sustainably you are purchasing a product where the environmental impact has been at the forefront of the brands business plan. Not only do sustainable products have a positive impact of the environment, they may also reduce long-term costs to the consumer through stronger, more durable materials.”
‘There is nothing sexy about wearing an item that was made by a child’ – Jennifer Nini (founder and editor-in-chief of ethical fashion and green lifestyle blog and online hub, Eco Warrior Princess).
“I could talk about this topic without an end; it’s the topic that started KNOWN EFFECTS on its mission to make change. We have never been perfect, we still (and I’m sure always will) make mistakes, but what we have learnt is to slow down in our purchasing and think before we buy.
“In a nutshell, when a product is not sustainable it affects the maker, businesses, the consumers and the environment. The makers are those who are employed by manufacturing or factory companies to make the products. Most face unethical working conditions resulting in a never ending cycle of poverty, child workers, wages below the living costs, health and safety risks and no restriction on working hours – and these are only a handful of ethical standards that aren’t met or followed by some manufactures. In many cases this has resulted in employee suicide,” continues Ainsley. “Purchasing products that are not sustainable keeps these cycles going.”
Consumers purchasing from KNOWN EFFECTS can trust in the knowledge that every product in their marketplace is 100% ethically made