In the past couple of years, the online shopping phenomenon, has increased the ease, comfort and service to such a level that this industry turned us consumers into easy and tame birds.
Consumption nowadays lies literally at the tip of our fingers. In no time at all we order something online and we have grown accustomed to have the parcel being delivered the next day. But are we really aware what the impact of this change brings about, if you know that for instance a returned sweater is thrown away, simply because it is easier and cheaper than to re-use the item?
We are all concerned about radical themes such as climate change and the labour market, yet we seem to forget in which comfortzone we have landed. A comfortzone which was perhaps consciously created with the purpose of making us dependant.
But do we sometimes think about the whole picture? That the products we order are mass produced in countries such as China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh and where the principles that we as consumers think are of paramount importance are very often violated. Countries where workers are a number and have no face, and lead a completely hopeless life. Lives that we have no knowledge of and will never have. Our purchases will not improve the lives of those workers, much rather let their situation take its course. Mass consumption dictates mass production and here only one principle is key: price – always pushing the price, always wringing the producer and thus leaving no ground for any kind of development or improvement of the working conditions of the workers, let alone the impact on the climate.
We see this story differently with exochique. We have come to admire a new generation of entrepreneurs who act with a very social commitment. More specifically in South Africa and in particular in the Cape, we have discovered a vibrant dynamism that may be typical of a country and a society that has experienced a recent major social turn. From an isolated Apartheid regime, to a Rainbow nation, rediscovering itself both economically and socially. And such a transition takes time, and happens with trial and error. A new generation of entrepreneurs is pressing who, in their own way, are building a new future for their country and the well-being and development of their workers and employees is at the heart of their actions, rather than in words.
With exochique we aim at creating a platform for these entrepreneurs and their companies to present their products to you. And thus, to offer you honest and authentic products with a story, and behind which lies the smile of a proud company and its employees.
Via a monthly promotion that we present in the form of a “magazine cover”, we focus on a specific entrepreneur and the products they present. Our customers are given the opportunity to place their order during the period of the promo, which are then processed as a sort of ‘drop order’, after which the customer receives the order some 4 weeks later. In this way only what is ordered is produced and we are not left with unnecessary unsold stocks that benefit neither our suppliers nor ourselves, taking also into consideration the sustainability of the product. We prefer to pay a fair price for our products, instead of working with an aggressive model, so that our suppliers can also pay their staff a fair wage.
As a consumer, as a person, we often think that our vote or opinion is ignored during elections.
But don’t we forget that we can assert our opinion in other ways than just voting? And then I don’t speak of protest, grimness or violence. We often forget that we can also assert and determine our “voice” in everyday life, starting with our own buying behavior. We may, perhaps we should, regard our buying behavior as a 365-day-of-the-year democracy. Do we consider what we are buying? Where it is made? Which powerful industrial family we indirectly enrich? What influence do they have in the media and politics to push through their agenda? An agenda that possibly impacts your future. It doesn’t even have to be a purchase of € 500 or € 10,000, it starts with the purchase of a snack, a T-shirt, an interior item.
Let us think more about who or which company is behind the product, what their principles are. And perhaps let us be lured less by the comfort, the treats that the multinationals serve us. You are the consumer, you decide what your money is spent on. If we may not be able to put our vote on what happens to our tax money, well then we can perhaps start by determining where our remaining net wages is spent on. As a voter we have a responsibility in the voting booth, but as a consumer we have an equally large, perhaps even more direct responsibility with our money, credit card or bank account.
Take your chance, make your voice heard today, tomorrow, next week – and not just every 4 years in the voting booth. Buy more consciously, do not let the masses determine your choice and support entrepreneurs with a heart in the right place.