Dear Christmas shopper,
We once heard somebody say: “When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance.” They were right. Grown from a kitchen table, our ethical jewellery business Lebrusan Studio has now existed for over 11 years – yet we still jump for joy every time we hear the distinctive ‘Ker-ching!’ that sounds from our phones when someone has bought something from our website.
In fact, this noise is perhaps more important to us than it’s ever been. In the wake of Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and the midst of various concerning historical events, staying afloat as a small business is no mean feat. Today, we ask you - our fellow citizens - to think carefully about where you invest your money this festive season. Right now, prioritising independent and local businesses is more impactful than you might think.
Research on British businesses reveals that nationwide lockdowns during 2020 fostered an average 30% dent in sales and a 9% drop in employment. Though our economy has alluded to a slow recovery in the years since, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have borne the long-term brunt of the pandemic. Sadly, some ventures no longer exist to tell the tale, with the number of SMEs in the UK having dropped by almost 7% since 2020 – the sharpest decrease since records began. For those of us fortunate enough to have weathered the storm thus far, the process of picking up the pieces has proven laborious. Now, in the thick of a cost-of-living crisis, the road ahead promises some steep inclines.
Although large e-commerce websites have us hooked with millions of brands and lightning-fast turnarounds, a quick Google search reveals complicity in war and conflict, and violations to human rights, labour laws, and Earth’s crucial ecosystems. It’s an unsettling time, but for anyone compelled to make a change, conscious consumerism is the easiest place to start.
Although most independent, ethics-conscious businesses can’t compete with the size and velocity of the monopolies this Black Friday, our edge is our integrity. So many lifestyle brands are underpinned by tight-knit teams that pride themselves on fastidious quality control, close, honest relationships with suppliers and manufacturers, and friendly, personalised customer service. Our gift is not quantity, but quality. Small-scale, local manufacturing and transparent supply chains enable our products to be traced back to the original sources of their materials, ensuring responsible practise and a story you can feel proud of. This simplified approach is also an opportunity for us all to reduce the CO2emissions we’re responsible for, minimising the mileage of what we buy and sell.
Today, we call on you to ask yourselves: “Who does Black Friday benefit? Competitiveness, flashing banners, too-good-to-be-true price tags and scuffles in queues; do they truly align with my values? Could my hard-earned money be better spent?”
Centred on humankind’s fundamental desire to love, give and share, the festive season is an opportunity to reflect on what really matters to us. This year, we encourage you to choose businesses belonging to communities in urgent need of financial aid and moral support. Choose charitable causes. Choose colour, variety, and a bolstered economy in your local area. Choose community, honesty, kindness and the power to make the world a slightly better place.