I hope everyone is doing amazing today! Today answering a question I got asked on the NINETYFOUR87 survey and hopefully give you guys a better insight to NINETYFOUR87! I think I’m going to publish one NINETYFOUR87 related content every month until September 2020 on ALSL and then next year, publish them as well on NINETYFOUR87’s website!
Why did you decide to go ethical in a world where it’s easier to put profit over principle?
This is a question I get asked often, not only from future NINETYFOUR87 customers, ALSL readers, but also family and friends. When I get asked this question, I often feel overwhelmed because I have a lot to say about this topic and if you know me, I always have A LOT to say. So, let me take you back to NINETYFOUR87’s beginnings and why I wanted to start a clothing and lifestyle brand.
NINETYFOUR87 was created because of my love for fashion, design, business, branding and marketing (Science and Medicine too!). NINETYFOUR87 was not created because I wanted to become famous or rich – I have money and I deeply hate and I am not comfortable with attention. I hope that NINETYFOUR87, not only makes people feel confidently beautiful and comfortable in their own skin, but it also makes a difference in this world. Since the very beginning my goal was to always give back with NINETYFOUR87’s charitable arm, For A Better Tomorrow Foundation. Every purchase will help make a difference. Supporting NINETYFOUR87 will help us support people locally and internationally.
So, why is ethics and principle more important to me than profiting? Let’s say I didn’t want NINETYFOUR87 to be a sustainable and vegan brand, but instead, NINETYFOUR87 was a fast fashion brand that used animal parts and skin to make our products, every product was produced in a third world country, where our makers worked in poor work conditions and were paid very little for their hard work. Or that I cared more about quantity over quality. My only answer to this is that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.
At a very young age, my parents taught my brothers and I to work hard for our money, to not take shortcuts in life and to be kind to everyone and be humble. I remember when I was in elementary school, I first heard about dirty money and blood money. I would never be able to look at myself if I was profiting thousands or millions or whatever money from NINETYFOUR87, while those working for me – those who are working hard to create each NINETYFOUR87 product are working in poor conditions and are paid little, just so I could save on manufacturing costs. Not to be a b*tch and bad mouth established companies while we’re just starting out, BUT I think it’s moronic if a company who claims to be a feminist company, while their feminist t-shirts are produced in slave shops, while the designers and founders profit. Call me a baby, call me dramatic, call me extra, call me whatever you want – I would not be able to look at myself in the mirror, sleep at night, look at my future children, my husband, my parents or my brothers if I was making selfish business decisions just to save on costs. Yes, it is easier to have a fast fashion brand where each product is produced in countries that pay their workers very little. It’s easy – actually very easy. But it’s not me. I understand very well that if I used real leather, I could profit a lot more for NINETYFOUR87’s bag collection. I understand very well that if I used cheaper material, the cost to produce each product will cost less and if I could, hike up the prices and make a larger profit. I wouldn’t be able to look at myself if I was contributing to harming the environment, people and animals. Look, I’m not a perfect person, I’ve made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes, that’s life. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t always good at recycling or making green decisions. I was young, dumb and used to think veganism, recycling and shopping green was for hippies, but that’s it – it’s not, it’s about making good decisions and making a difference.
I care more about making a difference over profit. I care more about quality products over quantity. I care more about the welfare of others, over profiting over their insecurities. Does that make me a dreamer? Does that mean I won’t survive as an entrepreneur? Does that make me weak? I think, actually, I know that if I’m honest and transparent from the beginning on NINETYFOUR87’s values and our business plan, I know and would hope people will and want to support NINETYFOUR87. As an entrepreneur, I obviously want people to buy my products, that’s the whole point of starting a business, but as a human, I wouldn’t be able to look at myself, or sleep if I was hurting others to get to the top. It’s not me, it’s not who I am.
Fast fashion is popular and loved because it’s accessible, mostly affordable to everyone and produced in large quantities. On the other hand, slow fashion, sustainable fashion, is not produced in large quantities, some brands are budget friendly, while other brands are a little more expensive and there’s the stereotypical thought the design will be boring – but actually, with slow fashion, sustainable clothing – some brands offer unique, limited quantity pieces. I promise every single NINETYFOUR87 product is timeless, classic, trendy with our own twist to it – to make it ours, make it unique, for our brand to stand out.
I’m not saying every company that manufacturers their products in third world countries are automatically produced in labour/slave shops – some claim the factories are up to standard and are “ethical,” only they know that. I’m not saying NINETYFOUR87 is better just because it’s sustainable and vegan, or that it’s 100% sourced and manufactured in Canada. I’m not saying I’m a better Entrepreneur and Designer because of NINETYFOUR87’s ethics – I’m a rookie and still learning. Talk is talk and I still have a lot to prove to myself and anyone supporting me in this business venture. I think Entrepreneurs and Business owners are pressured into making decisions based on maximizing profits, since that’s basically the point of businesses and sometimes they end up forgetting that money is not everything.
If there’s anyone that I would like to thank for NINETYFOUR87’s values, it’s my parents, my brothers, my Tito, my Lola and Lolo and of course, my future family. They’re my inspiration for everything I do in life and how I will run NINETYFOUR87. So, to my family, mahal na mahal kayo! Maraming salamat sa lahat!