Bound & Determined
Why is everything sold out?
For those of you that know me personally, you know "Quit" is not in my vocabulary.
That said, growing a mission driven brand committed to sustainability in a world addicted to fast fashion has thrown some giant obstacles in our path. Luckily as a Mountain Biker, I have a few skills in navigating obstacles! This is the story of why my hands are tied firmly behind my back. I refuse to be a martyr to our cause so continue to Pedal Forward tenaciously working to be a part of the solution. In this post that simply means I'm sharing to empower, encourage and find collaborations while earning your trust and support.
I am super proud of the top quality products that I have created with the highest standards of ecological and social responsibility with our factory partner in Morocco. These values come at a premium and I am extremely grateful for the thousands of women around the world that have My Alibi Bloomers as an asset to their wardrobe. I've heard your pleas for more of the Essential Collection to be available. Call me stubborn but I refuse to cut corners just to make more stuff. Call me Greta but I got myself into the apparel industry to be a disruptor and not just to sell more thneeds. My Alibi's first disruption was giving women permission to wear whatever makes her feel authentic with the comfort of a pro level chamois while riding a bike. Sustainability comes by integrating the bike into your lifestyle. The ethical part was just that... my moral obligation to the planet. My list of sustainable values is long. I'm an innovator only creating new solutions.
As John Cusack famously declared in the movie Say Anthing: "I don't want to Buy Anything. Sell Anything. Or Produce Anything..." (you know you know the rest...)
While I have been committed to these values since day one, 15 years ago sustainability was not a part of consumer buying habits. Since the Bloomers needed a high end chamois, only made in Italy, the Top Italian House of Lycra seemed perfect, it made them expensive but they were the first bike underwear specific for women so they had to be the Best Quality. Naively, I had initially wanted to make the rest of the My Alibi Clothing line in the USA as I was just as misinformed about what MADE in AMERICA really meant, as mainstream consumers still are today. My awakening happened in 2008 when I walked the streets of San Francisco from one factory appointment to the next scouting out the best opportunity to localize production. What I saw blew my mind: terrible working conditions in run down buildings with ancient machines and systems exploiting workers that were obviously not making a living wage. Most didn't speak English at all and several actually had their workers locked in! These cut and sew businesses were literally sweat shops in the USA. Of the 20 some on my list, I found two decent enough to pursue: one was a project attempting to teach minorities in Oakland how to sew and the other was a charismatic Asian family operation. I contracted small batches of skirts at one and pedal pusher capri pants at the other. It became clear that the problem with ethical quality manufacturing in the USA was much bigger than I could solve. The cost to produce was more than double going overseas, while the quality was just not up to my standards (I literally had to put the snaps on myself and drive them to get the embroidered logo added for 10x$). This was only the beginning for me as I soon embarked on a global quest for ethical manufacturing which ultimately opened my eyes further to the Apparel Industries dirty secrets. When I found my current factory in Portugal/Morocco with premium tailored quality as well as environmental standards while paying a living wage and creating the shortest supply chain with my European sourced materials, I embarked on producing the entire line. With 1000 piece/style minimums the production cost alone was $250, 000! So tenaciously I began chasing capital, only to find the glass ceiling for women entrepreneurs was about $25,000. So even though I had one of the first successful Amazon webstores selling My Alibi Bloomers direct to customers with 5 star reviews, I headed to the big Trade Shows to get PreOrders from retailers including REI. As a bonus we gained awards for product innovation, design and merchandising. With e-commerce on the rise buyers were hesitant to take on new brands so with only $60K in commitments, I was still stuck not even close to meeting production costs and the clock was ticking. Desperate I had discovered this new crowd-funding thing and thought my amazing customers could help me reach my goal by purchasing on preSale so I ran a Kickstarter that raised just $25k! Ironically I was front page Business Section News in the Des Moines Register : all about this new crowd-funding trend (yes the article was more skeptical than supportive). Now if you're still following along, none of this math adds up. Long story short, I was only able to make more of the highly coveted Bloomers and the rest of the line would have to wait... still waiting but I keep pedaling: empowering more women to integrate the bike into their lifestyle.
Today as consumer consciousness is demanding traceability the entire Apparel Industry is being recognized for it's wasteful supply chain. I am Bound and Determined to be a part of the solution which ultimately is My Alibi's greater purpose. With all of you buying up the Bloomers (thank you: almost gone completely!!) and pleading with me for more of the Essential Collection to be available, Subscribe to MyAlibi eNews to be included in our a survey to understand how you value Sustainability in your apparel purchases. Please contribute and stay tuned for exciting product announcement soon!