“The World’s Best Shopping Experience for Conscious Consumers”
Chris Welch, the founder of new online ethical retailer, Grove & Bay, is best described as a pragmatic idealist. He wants global change in the manufacturing industry as much as the next conscious consumer, but he knows that simply slapping some fair trade goods up on a website is not enough to create a sea change.
It has everything to do with the foundational questions.
Instead of asking, “how can I convince people that fast fashion is bad?” Chris asked, “what makes educated, empathetic consumers choose fast fashion over more conscientious retailers?”
Let me unpack that a bit. I think that most of us in the conscious consumer community are preoccupied with that first question. We think that if we just provide enough detail about the state of the fashion industry – about sweatshop labor, factory collapses, deforestation, and widespread pollution – that people will obviously change their shopping habits. We push brand stories, even to the point of selling narratives more than products.
But research shows that our assumptions simply aren’t true, and that over-selling the ethical narrative can even push people away. People, by and large, don’t change their habits when introduced to troubling data. In fact, they might just dig in their heels and deny what they hear.
But people do respond, very favorably, to an attractive, easy shopping experience.
That’s where Grove & Bay comes in, bringing education, quality, price point, and user experience together for an overall experience that will give fast fashion retailers a run for their money. This isn’t your quaint, run-of-the-mill ethical retail website. This is sophisticated, thorough, and, most of all, clear.
How Grove & Bay is Different
Style First, for Women and Men
Grove & Bay researched over 1,200 ethical and eco-branded items to select the best of the best in the industry. Rather than organize collected data using a badge system or secondary menu, each product’s ethical designations are available on the individual listing’s page for both ease of access and absolute clarity. Love a top but wonder what makes it “ethical”? Scroll down to its Transparency Guide and learn everything you need to know.
Each item at Grove & Bay has been measured individually so you can be sure that the thing you ordered will fit when it arrives at your door. Their cool sizing technology also lets you compare items in the shop to ones you already own so you get a sense of silhouette, not just measurements.
Conscious consumers everywhere know that one of the biggest barriers to shopping ethically is price. Grove & Bay is committed to showcasing affordable goods, with all items ranging from $12 to $120.
That’s all well and good, but do they carry things people will want to buy?
Grove & Bay wants to focus on classic-but-not-dated, casual style. Think your GAP or J. Crew shopper. Their introductory product line includes offerings from Amour Vert, Etiko, Alternative Apparel, Passion Lillie, United by Blue, and more, with brand launches every month. They’re also the only US-based online retailer offering Thought (formerly Braintree) Clothing, one of my favorites.
In an industry that’s been trying, with some futility, to change hearts and minds by focusing almost exclusively on the makers, I’m thrilled to see a company successfully marrying maker stories with consumer interests. Though it can be discouraging to realize that empathy alone won’t change the world, the sooner we can collectively make smart choices, the closer we get to authentic, sustainable change.
That is worth celebrating.
And that’s why I’m sure I’ll be one of Grove & Bay’s first customers. More than a product or a mission, the Grove & Bay model is smart, appealing to both aesthetic and ethical sensibilities, and maybe – hopefully – bridging the divide between hardcore ethical shoppers like me and people who would make better choices if only they had the resources and the time to do it.