A reflection on 2022 from luxe.zen’s founder Sarah
As with any journey there can be a sense of impatience to arrive at the destination. An ethical sourcing and manufacturing journey is no different. While we aim to perfect every detail of our sourcing, manufacturing and fulfillment, as a self-funded indie brand there are always things left undone at the end of the year. That desire for better can leave us feeling depleted when after some time and effort there is still much work to be done. It is critical for long-term momentum to take moments to reflect on the incremental ways we have moved toward our goals each day. Similarly, it is important to reflect on the areas we have failed in order to avoid similar challenges in the future. When we know we can choose to move differently. While this path is not the simplest one, I continue to choose it because it is the right one.
This year has been challenging to say the least. We bobbed in a sea of search algorithm and consumer behaviour changes. We struggled to communicate our unique value proposition amongst our competitors. In addition to planned cost increases through ethically sourced gemstones and Fairmined metals, we also experienced what most businesses and consumers did: cost increases on almost everything. We know that jewellery is not a necessity for most households and as a family owned business empathize with you as you navigate this time. That being said, in order to remain profitable, we will be conducting a price audit for each item and will adjust only where absolutely necessary. Further, we intend to focus on staple jewellery pieces with ethically sourced materials to stay true to our values and keep our prices as accessible as possible.
What we accomplished
- We became Fairmined label Certified, launching sterling silver and 14k yellow gold options for our prong style raw gemstone rings and (new) charms. Learn more about Fairmined vs. recycled gold & silver.
- 95% of 2022 new releases featured an ethically sourced stone
- 40% of our existing catalogue was re-released with ethical stones, including our flagship mosaic collection
- We discontinued styles where ethical gemstone material was not available or difficult to source
- We donated 3% of our profit to artisanal and small-scale mining international development projects focusing on the ASM (artisanal and small scale mining) sectors; specifically:
- We donated $500 USD (pending) to Moyo Gems Programs via our 3% pledge, with funds directed to support resources for the Tanzanian Women’s Mining Association, the Moyo Gems expansion into Kenya and future expansions of the program
- We donated 10% of the proceeds from our spring sample sale ($250 USD) Gem Legacy purchasing 6 respirator kits for tanzanite miners to prevent silicosis (lung damage from breathing in silica dust)
- Our first print editorial featured our Moyo Gems raw teal sapphire ring mined by Godrich in the April 2022 sustainability edition of Fashion Canada magazine
Our environmental impact
- Launched chain-less charms to reduce unnecessary component consumption, compatible with all pre-existing luxe.zen chains
- We shipped all orders in 100% post consumer fibre recyclable shipping boxes, and fully recyclable paper void fill, shipping labels, and compostable packing tape to reduce the carbon footprint from shipping orders
- We adhered to the Ethical Metalsmith’s suggestions for a clean and eco-friendly studio workspace. This includes:
- salt-based acid pickle
- cadmium-free solder
- palladium alloyed white gold rather than nickel-based white gold
- ensuring N95 grade face coverings were used with abrasives to ensure healthy lungs for our team
- We produced less than 3 large black garbage bags of waste this year!
- We captured 90% of scrap metal to be sent to our metal supplier and re-refined into new components
What we failed at:
- We struggled with cash flow amid increasing material and shipping costs and decreasing sales on our main channels.
- We gave up our external production space to reduce overhead.
- Our sales decreased on bestsellers where ethically sourcing stones increased the product costs more than 10%. We understand that when prices increase, items can be less accessible.
- We didn’t implement product-based SKUs. This would help us to better manage inventory, ensure we are not over consuming, and to better track the impact of our ethical buying. We overbought raw materials last year so we simply did not prioritize this task.
- We didn’t find a solution to capture and recover precious metal dust and the small pieces created when prongs are trimmed. This would ensure we are recycling 100% of metal waste produced by our work.
Reflecting back on the year allows us to appreciate how far we’ve come, and also understand how far we still have to go. We like to say that we’re on an ethical journey, and that there’s always room for improvement, and 2022 has really proven that to us. While we’re proud of all the things we achieved, we’re looking forward to all the ways in which we can continue to grow and improve.