On Moving Forward in 2021 from our Co-Founder, Nicole Bassett
After 2020, we will not be able to return to normal. As much as we want to go back, we have to understand that our world view is forever altered. Not just as individuals but industries have been altered too. 2020 changed the apparel and textile industry. The first half of the year’s headlines were peppered with stories of layoffs and bankruptcies. With store closures and financial uncertainty, apparel and textile brands and their retailers began filing for Chapter 11. Alongside this, many CEO’s within the industry saw these changes as an opportunity to accelerate new business models, utilizing them as a strategy out of the crisis.
The apparel and textile industry has been broken for decades - something we all we witnessed first hand as the recent economic crisis unfolded. Apparel and textile brands, like many other industries, only make money when they make and sell new things. They take new raw materials, make clothes and bags and home goods, sell them and at the end of use the customer disposes of them. It is a linear model that by design generates waste and is reliant on an endless supply of new materials for its growth. This linear model has been a substantial contributor to our economic and climate crises.
Given the damage the linear model creates, a new approach to business is required. Circular means using resources wisely and generating revenue from what was already made. In 2020, we saw the development of more strategies departing from the linear model and more avenues for companies to generate revenue from circular.
Despite every other challenge in 2020, The Renewal Workshop brought Pottery Barn, Coyuchi, ace&jig, Osprey to the US market and in Europe, we added Tommy Hilfiger and Haglofs to our existing partnership Cos to expand the European options in circular.
These shifts to a more circular business don’t come easy so it’s important that we acknowledge our brand partners, the teams who work with us directly to make it happen and the teams at the strategic level that gave it the green light. It's not possible to make these major shifts without both. Changing a business from linear to circular is born out of tireless meetings, detailed project plans, lengthy inventory searches, and tedious product data reviews. It is an endeavor that can be thankless yet we are incredibly grateful for the work of the teams who have made it happen.
The idea of circular is not ours, the idea of honoring the planet by doing commerce differently is not ours, the idea that employees are the backbone of a company’s success is not ours, the idea that power can be shared is not ours. Yet these are the ideas that inspire us to keep moving forward in our steadfast belief that there is a different way to generate equitable financial value by honoring the planet.
It was a hard year to wake up every day and put one foot in front of the other given the trauma and pain that we have all experienced. The struggles of 2020 did not disappear when we rang in the New Year, but our ability to move forward, to recognize our part, and pour more love into what we do is what will get us through.
In 2021, The Renewal Workshop will continue to lead brands towards a circular business model and will continue to serve and celebrate the customers who make up this new circular consumer market. Together, we are resolved to make a difference for the health of people and the planet.
This is our commitment to 2021.