Founder's story on sustainability

Green planet demonstration

Sustainability is everyone's business. We need to use fewer resources so future generations can thrive.

I started this business unaware of the astronomical waste that the fashion and accessories industries create, and I was shocked to learn how harmful production is for the environment and the workers.  

“Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fiber, which is now the most commonly used fiber in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose.” —Forbes 

 

Being a small business is awesome because we get to build things the right way from the ground up. Being self funded allows us to focus on our product without the pressure of churning constant profit. I want Fierce Hazel to appeal to everyone without harming the planet.

As a cyclist I desperately needed a durable, weather-proof bag to fit my needs, so I started there. With my small budget, I set out to test the market. Most factories require a high minimum order quantity and encourage companies to order more product than needed. But what happens to unsold product? It gets thrown away.

Excessive consumption is unsustainable for the planet. Period. 

I was stoked to find a factory that took my small order. Despite the fact that the price is a little higher, the benefit is less waste.

Another obstacle was sourcing materials. Textile mills often require a minimum purchase of 300 yards of fabric, which is A LOT of fabric.

My solution was to use material that was already on the factory floor (deadstock).

This means working closely with the factory so they can save the best fabrics and remnants for us to use! It’s tricky but when it comes together, it’s magic.

People tend to hold on to a bag longer than an item of clothing so we set out to make a high quality, super functional product that will last a lifetime. 

Simple and timeless is our thing, but rescuing material means flexibility in the design.

You’ll see that in the Echelon All-Conditions Pouch: The Featherweight is a mix of ultra-lightweight ripstop, and the Ballistic edition uses a super durable 420 denier fabric. Same design, different fabrics but once again, all deadstock.

 

(Link to purchase)

Let’s face it, it would have been much easier just to buy the exact fabric I wanted but this way is a lot more sustainable.

Branding is so important for a new business, and initially I thought about using custom designed zipper pulls for brand recognition. I scraped that after a visit to a zipper pull factory in Vietnam. Each one of those pieces is poured by hand into little molds by a factory worker. But also all that plastic … so whenever possible I use webbing instead of a plastic pull.

But I can say from my visit to Vietnam that I feel confident in the factories I work with not only deliver a high quality product but pay a living wage with reasonable working hours and a good work environment. 

No sustainability without ethics.

I spent a week and had access to the entire facility. It’s a small factory (in comparison to other factories) employing 150-200 people. No one checks bags as people leave because there’s trust within the company. There’re no uniforms because the employees voted against them and lunch is provided daily for everyone. Work stops at 5:30 each evening.

I am also the first woman owner the factory owner has ever worked with. 

At Fierce Hazel we are conscious of our own sustainability within our office and we reuse and recycle every item we can. Our internal shipping products are either compostable, recyclable or made from post-consumer waste. Use what you have. But if you have to buy new, choose well and thoughtfully.