When I was interviewed recently for a documentary series on Foxtel, one of the questions asked was how I choose the brands we work with at Shop Naturally. It's a very personal experience for me to do this, and there are varying criteria. It will either be touched on just briefly in the documentary, or they may omit it completely, so I thought I would take the time to explain the process in detail.
We are privately owned and the decisions are 100% mine
First off, I wanted to make it clear that the decisions are mine and mine alone. We are not a publicly listed company. There's no share holders. No parent company. No business partner to argue with. We are not owned by a corporation who have other brands in the market to push through my store. We do not have a financial stake in ANY brand we sell in the store. We are not the distributors for any brand in our store. I do not answer to anyone but our customers and my conscience. The wallet doesn't get a look in. If I like them and their products are a good fit for us, we stock them. If they're not, I don't. If I change my mind down the track, I can do that too. There's a moral tug of war going on at the moment with organic tea brand Pukka being bought out by the giant, Unilever, who test on animals. While the tea won't be, and it will remain organic and wild harvested, that choice to keep it on the shelves or remove it will always be made in conjunction with our customers.
The ethics of the companies we work with are important
We proudly work with large brands and small ones. The large brands we work with have amazing products on offer, and it's these brands we're usually able to arrange amazing deals with. There's power in volume. We're still pretty selective about the large brands we worth with, and their charity programs are always a deciding factor if there are two brands competing for my attention. Those who earn should give back. We do it here and we expect our major suppliers to do the same.
Our customers love natural nail polish brand Kester Black because they have amazing colours and quality. We love Kester Black because they give 2% of their revenue to charity and, like us, pay their staff above award wage and have friendly work hours. For us, they are the logical choice to support.
The profit margin is never a factor
I don't think with my wallet. I am not motivated by money. I lead a relatively simple life*. We have products in our store with such terrible margins on them that we really don't make a cent on them by the time we process them in and out of the store. I don't care. They're amazing and people love them, so they're on the shelves. A great product with very little profit will always beat out something I'm not terribly fussed about with a great profit on it.
We LOVE our small brands
We are proud to be the first retailer in the country to take on the Erica Brooke range of natural deodorant, and now we have her natural skin care range too. Today, she's in multiple stockists and setting the world on fire. We have other small brands whose office is a small desk in their bedroom with visions to grow far beyond. It's exciting to play a role in helping them do that and then blossom out past our doors and out in to the marketplace. There are many other brands we've done the same thing with since Erica.
* I realised the irony of posting the words 'simple life' in a shot with a grand piano in the background!! Foxtel filmed the first part of my store in my music room at home. I wasn't well the day they did the shoot. I am a classically trained musician, have been since the age of 5. This piano and that pile of daggy 80's records in the photo are one of my greatest ways to relax. Living with chemical sensitivities has me a bit of a home body. I rarely travel and I don't have exotic tastes, a giant wardrobe or 50 pairs of shoes. I don't even own a pair of heels!