If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that our individual choices make a difference, and businesses—no matter how small—need to put more effort into being honest, transparent, and above all else: eco-friendly.
In the OMCH studio, we're asking ourselves what we can do as a small business to be more sustainable. We already use responsibly-sourced materials from Fairtrade suppliers who use recycled metals to create our jewellery. Our packaging is completely plastic-free and recyclable, and has been for years. From metal scraps to packaging, we reuse and recycle as much as possible so that nothing gets wasted.
But we know there's always room for improvement when it comes to being eco-conscious. So as 2022 begins, we're sharing our sustainable resolutions for the new year; what we plan to do in the studio to maximise our efforts, and reduce our waste from prioritising sustainability to promoting causes.
Consumers have become increasing more informed than ever environmental issues and the impact fashion has on the planet. Almost every business now has a dedicated page about sustainability, even the fast fashion brands. But without in-depth information, what they say can't be trusted. The only way you can truly know whether what you're buying is fairly and sustainably-made is when you have enough information to decide for yourself.
Although I've been writing about slow living and sustainable fashion on my blog - A Considered Life - for years, I've shared very little about sustainability when it comes to the OMCH studio. That's all about to change. This year, I'll be diving deep into sustainability on our Style Journal; sharing how our studio is run from the sustainable jewellery to the plastic-free packaging. I want you to know as much as possible about OMCH, and feel welcome to ask any question that hasn't been answered.
Small Batch Production
This holiday season we switched over to small batch production, and it's one of the best things we've done for the studio. Not only in terms of reducing waste, maximising time, and making the studio more efficient. But it also made such a busy time of year much calmer and easier to manage as a one-person business.
Instead of making your jewellery to order, it's now made in small runs that are immediately available for you to purchase. Previously jewellery was being made to order, which meant our fast dispatch and delivery time became difficult to maintain particularly during busy holiday seasons.
Transitioning to small batch production helps to maximise my time as a jeweller, keep material waste to an absolute minimum, and reduce the studio's environmental footprint. By producing small jewellery runs ahead of time and only selling what has already been physically made, you receive your jewellery much faster and the studio has eliminated the possibility of selling more than I'm capable of making at any time.
This might mean our jewellery sells out even faster than it already does, which we know is frustrating as a customer. However, it's important for us to avoid the risk of over-production and the waste that causes. By keeping our inventory low we can be a more sustainable jewellery business thanks to the freedom and flexibility that small batch production provides.
I started OMCH in 2012 because I couldn't find sustainably-made minimal jewellery at an affordable price. It's always been important to me that OMCH was a place for customers to buy high quality jewellery with fair and consistent pricing all year round. It's the reason why we rarely hold sales or offer discounts. We don't inflate the cost of our jewellery all year just to discount it over the holiday season, like Black Friday sales.
Instead, we hold an annual zero waste secret sale exclusively for our dedicated customers and email subscribers where we offer returns, samples, and seconds. It helps us to eliminate waste caused by customer returns, and reduce our footprint by avoiding the intensive process of melting the metal down to make something new. However, I'm now considering a new approach to handling these items in the studio.
I want to launch a take-back programme to collect gently-used and unwanted jewellery from consumers, and reintroduce them back into our shop. As well as providing a jewellery recycling service. The benefits would be a reduced environmental impact that minimises material waste and avoids intensive metal recycling. We'd also be able to provide a small selection of jewellery at a lower price all year round, making our studio part of a circular economy.
As an individual, I already donate 10% of my personal monthly income as a jeweller and writer. But as a very small business of one plus the occasional freelancer to help with photography and events; the slim profit margins and expenses make donating a percentage of profits each month tricky to commit to without adding an extra cost onto the jewellery itself. That's not something I want to do.
As a business, we've always supported our local community by working closely with other small businesses. All our packaging is sourced from independent shops who use recycled and recyclable materials, and our jewellery materials are purchased from suppliers of Fairtrade and recycled metals.
So while the studio isn't currently in a position to commit to donating a specific percentage of sales each month, I always make an effort to funnel money and resources into supporting other small, local and independent businesses wherever and whenever I can. This year, I'll be working on ways to raise funds within the studio for donations to support the causes we care the most about over the next year and beyond.