A candid conversation between a retailer and a manufacturer of children's goods.
On April 15th, Bowfish Kids owner Caitlin Quirk had a conversation with Love Bubby owner Jaime Windau regarding sustainable supply chains.
To Love Bubby from Bowfish Kids
To Bowfish Kids from Love Bubby
1. We can't wait to learn more about what you are doing to become a more sustainable business. What are the 3 biggest changes in how you are approaching sustainability for 2021 and beyond?
I think the first significant change is the one I'm making within me, by holding myself responsible. I've found it beneficial since many of the things I've started doing at home can translate to things at Bowfish. Like replacing all plastic products/supplies with an eco-friendly option whenever possible. An easy one to change is to replace plastic trash bags with compostable trash bags. When I'm grocery shopping, I am more conscious about what I am buying and am actively opting for glass/paper options, if available. Also, I'm diligent about remembering to bring my own bag and water bottle with me wherever I go to avoid wasting single-use plastics. It’s an effort that our entire team has been pitching in with and it's insipring to see how it catches on with others.
The second change is what I like to call "sweating the small stuff." Basically, it means reevaluating all our supplies, practices, and processes and identifying the small stuff we can change quickly. What are the immediate, actionable things that we can do in-house that are steps toward a more sustainable way of living? Some of those small things that we've identified are as simple as really recycling paper. For example, we re-use ALL standard pieces of paper, primarily found in our mail/shipments. We utilize and recycle all of it and exclusively use "scrap paper" --as we call it, in our in-house printers used in our office.
The third change is a commitment to saying "No." --full stop to new partnerships, brands, products, vendors, or suppliers that don't have goals toward achieving sustainability within their roadmaps. In addition, we're also looking to utilize the relationships we currently have with vendors and brands and find innovative ways to move forward together... kind of like what we're doing together.
2. As we approached our goals at Love Bubby we have noticed that change can be hard. As you create these goals at Bowfish what has been the hardest part of bringing these things to life?
For sure, the most challenging part has been not getting overwhelmed. When I first began looking into making Bowfish more sustainable, I was paralyzed thinking about all that I needed to change. It's easy to get caught up on the big, systemic problems of waste and carbon emissions in our society — but you have to start by focusing on what you can change today. I began implementing simple steps like those I previously talked about and shifted our focus toward planning for the future. Setting goals and measurable milestones have been the most challenging part for me. However, once we nailed it down, it's easier to have a path to follow. All of these changes represent a commitment to our customers —and in turn, we know that they will be more committed to us.
3. What has been the consumer response to some of the changes you are making at Bowfish?
We receive a lot of emails and messages via social media from supportive parents, who talk about how we've inspired them to change things in their lives and their children's lives. Most of these messages are from young parents who may have the same feelings about the environment and sustainability but may not have had a way to amplify those feelings and their voices. Becoming a part of the Bowfish family has in a way given them a platform, and confidence, to express those feelings about the environment and sustainability. For example, in September of 2019, we held a Fridays For Future event — we made t-shirts for parents and kids, many of who then marched down to the local city hall to show their support for Greta Thunberg and the Sunrise Movement.
4. We can only imagine how many brands you have at Bowfish and how many stories you tell a day to your customers. How are you streamlining these stories with this focus on sustainability?
We only feature brands that have clear, legitimate sustainability goals on our social media channels. We are also implementing a sustainability marketing agreement with all of our vendors that requires them to meet specific sustainability criteria in order to be featured on our homepage, in emails, or any form of advertising. While I think we do an excellent job of promoting our sustainability mission online, I will admit that we could do better in our face-to- face interactions on the shop floor. We've just been so busy building this behind the scenes. I am, however, installing a new check-out counter that I custom built to feature, along with some products, a poster outlining all the steps we are taking to become a sustainable business.
5. What motivates you to achieve your sustainability goals?
That's an easy one — the kids. I mean, every day I'm surrounded by the next generation, so I feel directly responsible for a piece of their future. I think a lot about how the toys and other plastic products made for these children will be around, in some form, in the environment long into the future, when they're all grown up and have kids of their own. That just doesn't seem right to me. And that motivates me to make some kind of difference, no matter how small.