We had expected 2020 to be our year of transition. Just not one quite like that.
We had chosen to upgrade our entire collection to be more local, more natural, more organic, more ethical and more responsible. Our warehouse was filled to bursting with both our outgoing Original Collection and the incoming ‘Next Generation’. At this time last year, we were ready to start the transition. We were also at the point of maximum exposure.
Then along came COVID. Lockdowns were imposed, offices vacated, stores closed like dominoes, and the entire question of our survival rested on whether that same warehouse could stay open, and whether our freight partners could still collect and deliver.
In a funny kind of way, it was the year we wanted. Awareness of society’s collective environmental impact was transformed during spring lockdown as animals began wandering about our deserted neighbourhoods, waterways became clearer and cleaner (remember Venice?), and city dwellers could actually look up and see the stars again. When Greta stood in front of the audience at Davos just weeks earlier with the demand: ‘Immediately stop now’, someone seemed to be listening.
What was niche became mainstream almost overnight: Buying responsibly; buying locally; buying from independent makers. Part of the B Corp mantra is that everyone can exercise their right to vote every day simply by buying what you believe in – your money being your weapon to help bring about the change you want. Activist brand and fellow B Corp, Patagonia, one of few global businesses truly making a real difference, took it one step further with their challenge to “Buy Less, Demand More”.
The times they are a-changin’.
Looking back on our own year, everything that we had planned, happened – only not when we had planned it. We chose to delay the launch of the Next Generation until the spring lockdowns passed, rather than get it caught in the raging discounting battle for survival that consumed retail headlines. Our first Selfridges pop-up shop opened in July rather than April – their role as ambassador for a more sustainable retail future and host for more responsible brands, via their ‘Project Earth’ initiative, ironically could not have been better timed. The initiative, and our pop-up, remain in place to this day. Our first hotel partnership, with Villa Copenhagen, also arrived later than planned – their 5-star, 390-room eco-hotel opening amidst shifting travel restrictions and border closures, our refillable SKOG amenities collection (including an exclusive shampoo and conditioner) waiting patiently in all rooms and public spaces. Then, just as the shops closed once more, our first Eau de Toilette collection – another project years in the making – finally revealed itself as winter arrived.
The year will not be forgotten quickly, and 2021 promises more of the same hardship. But while we won’t miss the virus, we need to remember to protect the good that emerged. For us, perhaps the best outcome was your response. Without the support of you, our customers, I wouldn’t be writing this end of year review. The surge in website traffic, online orders, newsletter subscribers, social media followers and simple messages of support since the pandemic hit has not only kept our business afloat, it has warmed our hearts, and reinforced our determination to stay on the path, whatever comes. Thank you for that.
We haven’t come this far to only come this far.
December 31st, 2020