Over the last few months, as we’ve experienced so much change in the way we live and work, I’ve been digging in and reflecting on my business, what my core values are, and whether the actions we take as a business are truly reflective of those values. As a team we’ve had the growing sensation that we need to review our company in terms of what we represent within an industry but also the community we wish to serve.
My business bears my name, and began with little separation between me and the business, but over time the focus has shifted beyond my design work and I’ve realised that in order reduce the space I take up as a white, cis woman, and build a business that reflects my values, I have to de-centre myself from our branding. I’m still here, but you might have noticed some shifts over the last few months, and that will continue.
I'm committed to making Ysolda Ltd an inclusive business that is actively anti racist as well as continuing my own anti racism education and work in my communities outside of the business. Knowing that I hold responsibility within this industry and alongside my peers, I want to be transparent about our focus going forward. As a starting point, and to hold myself accountable, I've begun outlining some of the changes we plan to make to embed anti-racism, inclusivity, and specifically amplifying and supporting Black businesses and makers, throughout our business.
We aim to continue our work on inclusive patterns, and to share the skills and resources that we’ve developed, to help improve the inclusivity of patterns throughout the industry. We’re currently redeveloping some of my older patterns to be more size inclusive: with both extended sizing and options that will better fit a range of body shapes and genders. Going forward our adult patterns will be sized to fit 32-70" chest circumferences. We’re also working on increasing the number of our existing patterns that include a low vision format.
We're committed to working with a diverse range of models, particularly to include representation of BIPOC, disabled, trans and gender non-conforming people (recognising that none of those categories are distinct and that many people belong to multiple marginalised identities) in our patterns. All models will be compensated. We plan to continue to knit samples of our garment patterns in a range of sizes, and aim to specifically knit samples of, and seek out models for, our largest sizes.
We're also planning to increase the number of kit and pattern collaborations we do with freelance designers. We will work to ensure that a significant proportion of those designers are Black, Indigenous and POC, lgbtq+, disabled or hold other marginalised identities. For any upcoming design calls we will issue a public call for submissions, rather than inviting designers to participate, so that all designers have the opportunity to submit.
We've begun a preview knitting programme, with the goal of improving our sizing and showing garment patterns in a wider range of sizes and body types. You can join our preview knitting programme here.
We aim to increase the proportion of our suppliers that are BIPOC and lgbtq+ owned, and specifically focus on redistributing wealth by seeking out Black companies to support. As an initial aim we were inspired by the 15% Pledge initiative and are setting the target of 15% of our shelf space being dedicated to Black owned businesses. We will strive to ensure that our processes for working with suppliers, especially small suppliers, are fair, supportive and flexible.
We will advertise new jobs, as they come up, more widely and encourage members of marginalised groups to apply for those roles. We recognise the importance of ensuring the safety of our work culture and structures.
We aim to make sure all of our online, and in person, spaces are safe and welcoming to all people who hold marginalised identities. We will continue to moderate comment sections, and will not tolerate racism, homophobia, transphobia, bigotry, ableism or fatphobia in our spaces.
Donating to organisations we support is an important part of our business, but we recognise the importance of ongoing, long term support. We're working on a plan to make regular giving, especially to support local organisations that work towards justice, something that we're committed to in an ongoing, sustainable way. We’re also looking at the ways in which we can use our skills and resources to lift up, create space for, and support marginalised members of our community, particularly Black and Indigenous makers.
We are critically examining our business to business suppliers for whether their practices are in line with our values. We also aim to seek out bipoc consultants, advisors, freelancers, and business professionals (eg. lawyers, accountants) for all areas of our business rather than only for anti-racism and inclusion consultancy.
In order to hold ourselves accountable for taking these actions and making change we’re planning both a quarterly review process, and a process for assessing whether smaller decisions such as whether to carry a new pattern book, are in line with our core values.
Our goal is to make this a living document, we'll be adding it to a permanent page on the website and regularly updating it. Your conversation and feedback would be valued.
.... And it's a big one! Usually, the sale runs across a set number of days and things get pretty fast paced around here with shipping and customer service emails. With the need to continue to prioritise staff safety and a smaller team than usual, we decided to make this a whole birthday month.