It’s been an incredible journey for Ethical Brand Directory, this time last year (Dec 2017) the directory was just 6-months old and still lived on the robertastylelee.co.uk website, very much in beta. I was still testing out the idea and the A-Z directory was just a proof of concept – during this time I kept asking myself:
- Is all this work I’m doing worth it?
- Is the directory making a difference?
- Are we inspiring people to do more good?
- Is this project able to make a long term positive impact?
- Are we helping our brands get known and find new customers?
In short, YES has been the answer to all of these questions. And we’ve managed to do this whilst maintaining our close knit family approach within our community. We have opted for quality interaction rather than worrying about being a content production machine and being on social media 24/7.
2018 In Reflection
This time last year it was just myself working full-time on building the directory, networking and learning more about the needs of customers and ethical fashion brands. Supporting me throughout all my endeavours has been Steve Woody from Online Mastery (our very first sponsor) building the platform. And of course my all-time favourite freelancer Darko Dimitrovski who has been with us from day one, helping out research tasks and website admin.
Without these guys we wouldn’t have Ethical Brand Directory. I will always be forever grateful for their support and belief in my vision and making it a reality.
2018 Major Mile Stones for Ethical Brand Directory
By January 2018 EthicalBrandDirectory.com as its own entity, was truly born. The directory had moved to its own home and now had it’s own set of social media channels. This also meant that I had doubled my workload and as a result Roberta Style Lee was neglected across 2019 and could no longer be the income generator to keep the project afloat. You live and learn! Keep things simple is the advice I’m giving myself and the team for 2019…
Q1 + Q2
The start of this year was far from easy. I put in around 700 extra hours of EBD development time on top of a full time contracting job (and my regular client work which I managed part-time). When people ask me what I have invested I tell them blood sweat and tears, on top of a huge financial sacrifice and a lot of lost sleep. Most of this time was spent building relationships, the strategy for 2019, research and outreach, reading and finding out as much as I could about building a sustainable business.
Doing good doesn’t come cheap, I often joke about it – but I think it’s important that people that visit the directory and the brands that are members appreciate all the work that goes in behind the scenes. I know for many they can’t really see it, but there’s a lot that goes into it.
When I look back over the past year and write a blog like this… there are no words to describe how it feels – all I can say is – every sacrifice has been worth it.
Then in April 2018 EBD launched its first online summit called Going Green 2018 – a global event bringing together thought leaders from across the globe to share their experiences and inspire us all to live a little Greener. Check out the link and see the line-up we had 8 amazing speakers – it was insane! I can’t wait for our next one in 2019.
We held the Going Green 2018 Online Summit across Fashion Revolution week and donated 10% of tickets sales to their amazing cause. This was the first time that EBD made a profit from an event! A major milestone indeed!
Off the back of this event I announced EBD was looking for partners to take the project to the next level – as well as any volunteers who may be willing to help out behind the scenes.
We hit a major milestone By July we had thrown our first birthday party! I was delighted to partner up with my good friend Carl Pratt over at Future Planet for a sustainable fashion event. Check out the blog here
Q3 was all about the growth of the team. We recruited our first few official volunteers – all with the goal of donating a minimum of 8-hours per month to help us inspire and reach more people.
In September I realised the project was growing rapidly and about to change direction and I could offer a couple interns some amazing work experience. I set the wheels in motion to recruit 2-interns in Q4.
By Q4 the foundations for the first Trusted Partners programme was in place and I had identified my first few partners to help contribute and grow the project. The Goal: to turn EBD into a self-sufficient sustainable business model, and make a positive impact and profit for all those involved.
By October 2018 our team had crept up to nearly 20 members! Have you checked out out team page? You can see who makes the magic happen here.
Our last highlight for the year was finding a creative agency to act as our Brand Guardian and help us get ready for a make-over. In order to get funding, sponsorship and the capital we need to take the project forward, a rebrand has been considered necessary for some time.
I am delighted to say that Hey Big Man have been selected as our Creative Agency, Brand Guardian and Trusted Partner for 2019 and beyond.
Doing Good isn’t Always Easy or Cheap – It’s Costs Time & Money
If you’d have told me in early 2017 when I identified a gap in the market for an easy to use, free for the consumer to browse, ethical fashion A-Z directory – that I would be where I am today… I’d never have believed it. I’ve never had such a passion and commitment to something like I do this, I invest everything I have into it, every penny and every hour and minute I can spare… because I truly believe EBD can make a difference and together we can minimise the negative impact that consumerism has on people, animals and the planet.
Some people spend a lifetime searching for their purpose – I’m privileged to have found mine through this project.
But please, don’t be fooled into thinking this has come easy, it’s been a really big struggle at times so much so that on many occasions I considered closing down EBD as it was becoming unsustainable and costing me more money to run it than I anticipated. Most of the time I’ve felt under appreciated, over-worked and that my actions weren’t making a big enough impact. As a one-woman operation, it was too easy to get over stretched. The volunteer team coming onboard in Q3 gave me that motivation and extra push I needed to keep going – and I shall forever be grateful for everyone who has stepped in to help out since we launched in July 2017.
The the launch of our Trusted Partners Programme has been such an important milestone for us – this will enable me to stay focused on what I do best and bring together some of the best minds in the industry so that ‘together we can do more good’.
Coming to the end of 2018
As we come to a close for 2018, I look back and feel privileged and exhausted at whats been achieved over the year. The seeds for a sustainable, impactful and profitable 2019 have been sewn.
I’m looking forward to the big changes we have in store for EBD and officially launching our Trusted Partners Programme.
What will 2019 Look like?
2019 shows no sign of slowing down for us. And the Industry? I think we’re going to see consumers demanding for more transparency and a rise in more ethical and sustainable brands. Check out my blog that summarises 2018s major Sustainable fashion landmarks here.
What can you do more of in 2019?
Buy less and buy better. Make it Last.
Ask the people that work in the shops where you buy things for more information about how its made, where it comes from. Shop with brands that can demonstrate they are reputable. The power of the pound, the actions of the consumer (that’s me and you) carries more weight than we realise. Money and customer demand are the two things needed for a business to stay afloat.
Demand better and spend your money with the brands that do care. That’s all any of us can really do. We have a voice and the power to spend or not spend. We should use our powers wisely.
What’s in store for EBD?
2019 looks set to be our biggest and most challenging year yet! We are building so many new things and we have so many new people involved – my main concerns for the coming year is to ensure everything we do is aligned and that I ask myself and the team:
- How do we make this project sustainable for all those involved?
- How do we make and measure our positive impact?
- How do we minimise our negative impact on the planet?
- How do we make and ensure sustainable financial growth for the project for all those involved?
- How to we stay focused on delivering a great service and doing as much good as we can along the way?
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about what we’ve achieved over 2018 and if you’d like to be part of our team and make a difference. I’d love to hear from you.
All the best for 2019 from myself and the entire EBD team.
Amelie Jannoe is the content development assistant for Roberta Style Lee & Ethical Brand Directory. You can find out more about the team here.