I am fortunate enough to be taking a month to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain this summer. Passing kilometer 400 in an 800 km walk is both thrilling and a little demoralizing at the same time. Thrilling because I’m feeling stronger each day, my backpack is lighter, and I feel like I’m starting to catch my stride. Demoralizing because I AM WORKING SO HARD HOW AM I ONLY HALFWAY THROUGH?! And yet despite the intermittent frustrations, tested muscles and a backpack that reeks so badly from sweating it immediately makes my clothes smell horribly when I put it on, it’s an incredible experience.
I don’t take for granted the fact that I’ve had the time while walking to listen to every podcast under the sun, sing (loudly) to the new Lion King soundtrack and most importantly, think. I’ve reflected on the last two years of RoHo, where we’ve seen such exciting improvements, new products and have improved how we’re giving. We’re still small, but it’s exciting what we’ve been able to accomplish. We’re working with over 400 artisans. 400! That’s an incredible number and I feel so privileged to be able to build on these relationships moving forward. We’re in such an exciting position as we share RoHo and its beautiful products with those across the country and beyond. We’re becoming a movement of people sharing our story with friends and loved ones, bringing women together.
Thinking has also reminded me that there’s room for improvement as well. One of the friends I’m walking with is getting her PhD in Environmental Justice. We talk a lot about the environment, ways we’re harming the only home we have and drastic changes that have to be made in order to ensure there’s a quality future for generations to come. And a large contributor to environmental degradation is excessive consumerism, especially by wealthier Western nations. I can’t help but think in some ways by owning a company selling products to consumers I’m in some way contributing to the problem. It’s a trade off because I feel as though I’m working to improve the lives of our artisans by creating new markets for their products, but there is an environmental cost to this development. It’s uncomfortable to come to terms with this. But I would be doing a disservice to the world by not thinking critically about these issues.
So how do I shift a mindset of excessive consumerism in RoHo? I can’t change everyone’s mind or force everyone to only purchase what they need. But in my own business I can promise to produce quality products, products made by hand and made to last. Quality has always been hugely important to us, but ensuring our products last longer means our consumers don’t need to buy replacements as quickly and therefore there’s less waste.
But there’s always room for improvement and I want to hear from our consumers. I’m here to listen and learn from you. How do we do better?