Monday, November 26, 2018

cyber monday

Happy thanksgiving from the front lines of the frozen tundra here at Worlds End. When I'm not thinking about the transportation of drinking water to sheep I'm thinking about about marketing and business. When I was little and trying to understand advertising my father explained it to me in cookies; "If you have the best cookies in the neighborhood but no one knows about them, no one is going to buy them..." It was smart of him to talk to me about cookies - little Sarah, always a bit pudgy, paid attention to cookies -- how to get them more than how to sell them. Alas this still may be my problem.

I don't know why we receive LL Bean catalogs here at the farm but we do. Two or three a week. I keep meaning to use my precious internet satellite bytes to look up how to be removed from catalog mailing lists. The waste of paper is infuriating to me let alone the reminder of our consumer culture that requires so many new mediocre poly cotton blended flannels every year. Nothing sells LLBean like winter.

Filson is another catalog that mysteriously appears in my mailbox, their pages now full of 'workwear' campaigns featuring real looking workmen and workwomen which is to say professional models but a bit older and more rugged looking. All these catalogs end up in my recycling bin (which likely ends up in a landfill) and all of that apparel gets gifted at the holidays as part of an antiquated cycle of consuming that is so clearly in need of immediate changing if we want our children to have any experience of the semblance of nature that we have.

And yet nature is constantly conjured to sell these things. I was recently made aware of the term 'athleisure' - which, mom if your'e reading this - is essentially yoga pants and other accouterments for an active lifestyle. In 2015 this sector of fashion was estimated at 83 Billion dollars. A popular company in this vein is called Outdoor Voices whose yoga pants I'm told are all the rage. This company's slogan is #doingthings which I find incredibly problematic in that it assumes that you need to buy something in order to do something. According to the Outdoor Voices website #doingthings is 'about being active on a daily basis and having fun with friends without the pressure of being the first or the best.' Instead of buying outdoor voices athletic wear, maybe people should all just come work at Worlds End. Between Zoe and I there are lots of clothes you can borrow.

Look, I'm a child of the 80's -- I grew up in a shopping mall -- the Jefferson Valley Mall in Yorktown Heights, NY.  I love to shop. Like really love it. I love clothes. I love jewelry, perfume, dishes, groceries, etc. And I've devised clever ways to rationalize my own consumption over the years -- only buying handmade things or things that are natural fibers or things that are consumable, etc, etc.

But with all the damning news about climate change I really feel that all of us with means (which is to say people with enough privilege to consider their consumption and influence others through our businesses) must to make an effort to consider the ways which we consume and encourage and support each other in consuming less. A simple practice; one that I've adopted recently is to only buy used clothing and housewares and the occasional aspirational the spirit of the honesty that you have come to expect here, I'll tell you that I spent my last dollars two weeks ago on a pair of manolos for Bryony's wedding. Wearing these pumps at Thanksgiving gave me a lot of pleasure. Granted I had to switch out of them periodically into snow boots throughout the evening  in order to prepare our meal on the fire outside. Part of my ethos around farming is this; the hardest tasks are simple when you allow for some bit of ridiculous pleasure. Arguably, I could afford to renovate the farmhouse and put in a proper kitchen with an inside stove if I didn't buy fancy pumps, but what fun would that be?

I started writing this post this morning and then had a grim financial phone call from my mother who does the books. Our business has been perpetually tight and sometimes it feels that no matter how much I consolidate and pivot towards what I know is right we might not get through. How the hell can I post about the evils of consumption when I really need to get people to buy my soap and flowers in order to pay my bills this week? Then my friend Taylor calls. She wants to talk about hypocrisy and how we're all afraid of it in business. I realize after I hang up the phone that we're all afraid of being called out on something -- as if any of us were clean and getting away with capitalism scott free. The best thing I can do is be as honest as I possibly can, lay myself open to criticism and not be afraid of the difficult conversations -- to push the dialog at my dinner table and with you all here. 


Unknown said...

I've been having a nagging feeling when checking Instagram for awhile now and realized today that I've been, without knowing it, waiting on a post from Saipua! So I searched you down, found out your account was hacked then got out the laptop with hopes that you have at least been writing here. So thank you for continuing to send out your thoughts laid bare. As usual I'm thinking these exact things everyday...caught between the need to make beautiful things for my own sanity, and the other need to help the suffering of humanity + the planet. To somehow serve.

Morgana said...

I’ve taken up paper paper mâché to use up all the waste paper that doesn’t go into our compost heap. And while I realise how batshit paper mâché sounds, it’s actually pretty versatile...I’m pouring slabs of it to make a coffee table for our house! Watch this space.

Shelley said...

Who do those gold mules belong to?

sandy said...

Thank you for keeping this blog alive. I only just re discovered it after having followed it for many years. I find it so cosy and comforting. I just binge read 4 months of posts whilst eating brie, salty butter and bread from fairway :)

Pearl to Penny said...

It might be strange but saipua journal is the first blog I've followed somewhat consistently. Or actually, EVER. Hard to believe I've been keeping my eyes buried in the sand about this sphere of sharing our beautiful gifts... Thank you for sharing all this beauty, goodness and truth- in words and creations of poignant flowers. Been dancing with consumerism and what role I choose to play in this theatrics of goods and marketing and capitalism act; and what to do with the money that's earned in exchange of our livelihoods. Except that most of us earn too little or too much but so little of us get it from being lively doing it. Sigh. It inspires me to see someone striving to achieve it though. The balance of creating new things without vapid plundering of resources. This I struggle with, especially in my field of work for designing and building spaces. Homes. Offices. Hotels. Huge boxes of gross energy consumption maniacs. Except hospitals are pretty useful. So are homes and offices and hotels...We've got to do it better going forward. Thank you for thinking of not just your future but our future together. Inspiring!

Unknown said...

Hi, So no more Instagram? I'll miss the flowers and the animals. Do you think you will sell sheep skins again?
Thanks, Lisa