We’ve been keeping a secret from you.
It’s not a cute secret, like that we’re launching a winter style very soon (whaaaa who told you that??!), or that we might be doing another collaboration that you’re going to literally die for (seriously who have you been speaking to???!!!).
It’s, like, much bigger and scarier and grosser than that.
It’s something we found out about a month ago, but we haven’t been quite sure how to handle it because it’s felt particularly heavy… and you’re about to understand why.
In case you haven’t noticed, TWOOBS has experienced a real growth spurt in the last year. She’s kind of gone from being our little baby child to this gangly tween what seems like overnight, and we’re still figuring out how to parent her.
Along with this, you may have noticed things on our website are often sold out or on pre-order. And while it may be frustrating for you, as a team we’re trying to strike a balance between giving our community what they want, and taking things slow enough that we can continue to hold the environment at the heart of this business.
But in the lead up to Christmas last year we got that balance really wrong, and completely sold out of all our best-selling colours and sizes (Lavender Cox OG+, we’re lookin at you). As a sandal brand we weren’t thrilled that in the hottest months of the year we had nothing to offer, and it did seem to annoy quite a lot of people. So we decided to place a bigger-than-usual order of beautiful shoes to ensure that over the coming six months we wouldn’t run into the same issues.
Cut to March when said order arrived, and as we’re looking at them we start noticing a pretty large portion of our stock just isn’t to the level of quality we have grown to expect. We’re not talking massive imperfections, but some shoes had things like glue visibly showing, while others had cracks in the bases, or discolouration on the platforms…. Faults that mean we’re just not comfortable sending the shoes out and claiming they’re meant to be that way. And basically our worst nightmare.
Thousands of shoes, paid for and completely imperfect, and not at all the quality that customers should and would be expecting from us.
Many stressful late night Zoom calls to our factory followed as we tried to piece together what had happened and what exactly we were going to do about it. Our factory ended up offering to refund us for all the faulty items they had already sent. We’re talking full 100% refund money back vibes.
Initially this might sound like a good option, but the general idea is a factory refunds a brand, and then said brand dumps said faulty stock into landfill.
You don’t have to dive too deep on the internet to read about all the luxury and fast fashion brands who have been caught dumping faulty and unsold stock into landfill, or even burning it. TBH even though in 2023 that sounds preposterous, amongst big retailers it’s still known to be pretty common practice.
Of course, at TWOOBS this was never going to be an option for us... and while for a moment we considered recycling them, recycling slightly imperfect but perfectly wearable shoes felt really irresponsible. Not to mention that from an ethical standpoint, letting our factory refund us for 100% of stock that they bought raw materials for and paid staff to make felt really, really wrong.
Enter: the solution. We’ve decided to sell those shoes at 25% off. Our factory still keeps most of the money (they’ll refund us around 25% of our cost price to reflect the need for a discount for customers), and these shoes get to go to loving homes.
In line with our mission to save the planet and not overload it with stuff people don’t need, we never go on sale. So this wasn’t a decision we came to lightly. What will people say when they realise we’re discounting? Is this completely hypocritical of us?
This isn’t a black and white world. It’s grey and it’s messy, and sometimes we need to meet messy problems with messy solutions. So this is ours. An imperfect solution for our imperfect shoes, but one that we believe is the best of all our options.
We want to be clear, we know the shoes we make are our responsibility.
To ensure this doesn’t happen again, we’ve asked our factory to work slower, we’ve pushed out all our production times, giving them more time to perfect each pair. We’ll also have a third party doing extra quality checks at more points during production so we can catch any issues early.
And in the meantime, these 2944 (gulp, yep, you read that right) pairs of shoes won’t be going to landfill. So if you, or anyone you know has ever wanted to snag a pair but price has been an obstacle, now might be the right time.
Being an ethical business isn’t easy. But taking the easy way out isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when our planet and the people on it need us to step up now more than ever.
So while these last couple of months have been a little bumpy (just like our shoes), we’re so happy we’ve been able to make lemonade with our misshaped lemons, while using the situation to raise awareness around some of the ugliest parts of the fashion industry.
And that’s why we keep doing what we’re doing. Now what are you still doing here, did you hear us say TWOOBS are available at a discount?!
Shop our OOPSYs here.
Jess & Stef x