A Q&A ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY WITH OUR FOUNDER, MAGGIE
After #climatechange and everything that has been in the media about the importance of sustainability there is an ever growing awareness about its importance, that said, it is often a personal experience that brings us to a point of incorporating it into a business - what brought you to a place of marrying sustainability and your profession/ brand?
Bluboho is a company that is able to grow and keep going because it sells jewellery. That being said, ultimately, we are in the business of human connection and giving every person that walks into one of our shops a moment to feel celebrated – no matter the occasion. I was reading this weekend, and a phrase that stuck out to me was, “think about space as an expression of love”. When you create space for people, and an experience, you are showing them love. That is the foundation of bluboho.
We put our guests first in every nook and cranny of our business model. We appreciate every opportunity we are given to make an impact. And in that gratitude-focused mindset, we are able to look further than the inside of our shops and see the impact. When you treat people with respect and kindness, it sets off a chain of positivity.
And that’s where it circles around to design and production. Looking to respect people we also want to respect their health, values and space. We want to expand our definition of space to our shared earth and do what we can to make a positive impact. That is why sustainability is so deeply ingrained in our everyday actions, processes and initiatives.
Some of those initiatives are that our metals are recycled and our product is made locally in Toronto. This reduces shipping needs and allows us to ensure we have strong supply chain management. our packaging is also recycled, and we are taking this further by creating new packaging that is not only recycled but also functional past the purchasing moment. To be reused in everyday life for storage, travel, etc.
There can be a trap of perceived hierarchy of sustainability - recycling is more important than ingredients, labour is more important than environmental impact - how do you balance this core value and accept that it won't be perfect?
Nothing is perfect, there is a peacefulness in that. You have to appreciate the imperfection and see it as opportunity. Opportunity to strive for balance and create change. Every act of service is worthy of celebration. From sustainable cups in the office to being unshakable on only using recycled metals and being locally made.
What are some of the core questions you find you are answering clients/ students/ your community in general?
A lot of our guests are asking more and more about sustainability within our industry. There tends to be a blur with sustainability and ethics. Our guests are looking to shop where their morals are echoed. That our metals are recycled, that our stones are ethically sourced through the Kimberly process and that our pieces are all handmade in Toronto. Those would be our top three wonderings.
What is the biggest challenge and the biggest reward with your work?
I would say that our biggest challenge and biggest reward in terms of sustainability in our business line-up. Both the biggest challenge and biggest reward would be producing our products locally in Toronto.
We work with incredibly talented jewelers in Toronto that hand-make our pieces and we are honoured to work with. It is a gift to be able to work closely with them. Throughout the whole process of production from sampling to sourcing, we are able to watch the assembly process. That’s incredibly rare and special and wonderful and wouldn’t be a possibility if our production didn’t take place in Toronto.
The challenge here is that Toronto is an expensive place and it doesn’t have a huge jewellery industry. Thus, we pay a premium to work with each one of our jewellers and compete for their availability. We definitely notice that margin, especially when competitors are producing overseas. As we continue to grow, it will become more of a challenge to keep up with the volume of product we will need to be able to produce. That being said, it's very worth the challenge as it allows us to deepen our relationships with our jewellers. We are very proud of being locally made and very grateful that we are able to do so. In the end, the reward wholly outweighs the challenge.
- What is the impact you hope to make with your sustainability focus?
As we grow our circle, people we are able to connect with will grow as well. Influence via word of mouth is powerful; I hope we are able to spread our message of kindness and respect. It might sound small, but to me it is not small - it's having an impact.