Advantages of small batch sourcing? Ethics, ESG and No Piles of Inventory – Sourcing Journal

Gladys Macharia of Siafu Home thanks Powered by People for helping the home textile brand she co-founded in September 2020 to “gain credibility”.

The startup’s weavers produce blankets, tea towels, bath mats and more exclusively using organic cotton from Kenya and Uganda on handlooms clustered in a bustling workshop in Nairobi, building on Macharia’s dream of restoring her native Kenya’s status as a maker of high-quality products. , fashionable textiles.

Connecting with Powered by People, a business-to-business marketplace showcasing craft brands to retailers seeking curated products from small-batch makers, proved to be a “great refresher” for Siafu Home, said Macharia, who uses pattern making. studied at the Art Institute of Florence and obtained a bachelor’s degree in fashion and clothing design from the Accademia Italiana.

PBP, as it is called, “allowed us to improve in areas where we as a small business needed support, tell our story around the world and reach a wider audience, something we would have struggled with” said Macharia. , noting that Siafu has also taken notes on “how we present our brand in the market”.

Conscious consumerism fuels the demand for goods produced without unethical obligations. According to the 2021 Ethical Consumer Markets Report, which showed a 24 percent increase from 2019, the UK market for ethical consumer spending and finance was £122 billion ($148 billion) in 2020. According to Allied Market Research, which brought the industry to $331 billion last year, the sustainable home furnishings market propelled towards $556.3 billion by 2031.

“Consumers are demanding more information about their products – who makes them, where they’re made, how they’re made,” said Alison Philips, PBP co-founder and chief of design. “They want to reward those brands and makers that align with their values. Still, retailers don’t really have a destination to buy those products. We want to be that source.”

Although it just celebrated its first anniversary in June, PBP already seems to be making a difference to emerging ethical labels looking to cast a wider network, said Philips, which channeled diversified experience at Club Monaco, Aritzia and BlackBerry into its role at the launch. from the platform. featuring CEO Ella Peinovich, the mastermind behind the Kenyan artisan Soko jewelry line worn by boutiques and brands from Reformation to Marine Layer.

Bringing PBP to market has been a matter of “trying to meet the moment,” as technology has infiltrated parts of the world often left behind by life-changing innovation, Philips said.

“We saw this opportunity to empower the small batch producers around the world who produce responsibly made products to overcome some of the traditional hurdles that have historically prevented them from being a viable alternative. for mass-produced factories. product,” she says.

And the zeitgeist also supports PBP’s mission, with nameplates like a Pottery Barn parent Williams Sonoma buying $50 million worth of ethically produced goods by 2025. Trend forecasters say progressive consumers who prioritize sustainable living will see a “caring economy” in the not-too-distant future.

PBP gives small brands access to a range of business-building tools, and strong adoption of the financing options indicates a critical “need for cash flow management,” according to Philips. Flexible financing on pending orders not only helps makers source their materials and secure the talent they need to produce finished products, but it also means they don’t have to wait once they’ve fulfilled one order before placing another. can start, because they need that cash flow injection,” she added.

That risk-reducing stability often brings much-needed relief for emerging brands where establishing reliable processes may be little more than a work in progress. Michele de Alba of Al Centro Ceramica in Jalisco said the Mexican producer of handmade ceramic homewares welcomes the prospect of “systematizing our production to serve wholesale customers.” Since the introduction to PBP, “our growth has been very rapid as there was a market for our product waiting for us,” she added.

Michele de Alba from Al Centro Ceramica


PBP plans to increase its home and hearth prowess by pursuing growth categories such as clean beauty and fashion accessories such as jewelry and bags. “We’ll look at clothes at some point,” Philips said. “We do have a little bit of that, but we still have a lot of growth within the current categories that we have.”

Makers of PBP, which has boots on the grounds in Toronto, Nairobi, Mumbai, Mexico and Turkey, have not been immune to the commodities crisis plaguing the wider global supply chain, although the problems were not “as widespread” as Philips feared.

That’s largely because most artisans embrace a “spirit of no waste or minimal waste,” she emphasized. Many of PBP’s ‘heritage producers’ use all aspects of the raw material and operate according to ‘historical ways of working’ that advocate responsible production.

In addition, Philips continued, a small batch offers big benefits to retailers battling the shifting winds of Covid and now bracing for an “impending recession”. Working with product quantities that run into the tens “can provide a lot of flexibility that major manufacturers cannot,” she added. In addition to the low MOQ and lack of container load volumes, small batch producer sourcing gives retailers the option to customize or white-label depending on the manufacturer’s preferred parameters.

“Retailers can have the breadth they’re looking for without having to invest heavily in inventory,” Philips said, citing the industry’s biggest problem right now. PBP helps merchants tick the boxes when it comes to serving conscious consumers and closing the gap with ESG goals, while dealing with the realities of pricing economics, she added.

The platform offers a variety of options that get to the heart of the matter for retail customers. An indie boutique owner can log into PBP, place an order and pay instantly without foreign currency or last-mile hitches. Then there’s access to “rich storytelling resources” that help retailers “communicate why this product is of value to their end consumer,” Philips said. Retailers can list PBP as a supplier and gain access to the market’s “hundreds” of makers, removing the typically “tough” supplier compliance process. Larger customers can use PBP makers to develop private labels or place larger orders, Philips said, while extending a dropship program to smaller retailers so that more merchants can take advantage of a “wholesale structure.”

While PBP is still getting its sea legs, Philips says the platform has the potential to offer more of the core bed, bath and tableware products that encourage frequent reorders, such as the “perfect white plate.”

“There are so many great new products on our site and I want to fill those basics so that there is always stock for these retailers to buy back in,” she said. “We’re really putting some emphasis on some of these core programs so they become the new bestsellers for our retail partners and they keep coming back.”

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