It’s no big secret that I’m a proponent of small business. Um, I own one. Many of my friends and acquaintances own or work for small businesses. I live in a rural community that thrives on small business. Support small business.
However, I’m cognizant of where I spend my dollars. Not only do I need to be mindful of managing my household’s and my business’s budgets, I spend money within my values and what’s important to me and my family. Money talks.
In light of world events, many people have turned to or are leaning harder on secondary sources of income, or have sought out new avenues of supporting their families. I wholeheartedly support self-sufficiency and will always do my best to be a cheerleader, encourager, provide advice, refer, and when I can, provide monetary support or be a client of that business.
There’s always a but.
I can’t be a client, monetarily support, or promote something that does not align with my values. It’s not that I don’t want you to be wildly successful or love you for the amazing person that you are–it’s simply your product or service I’m not jiving with–and we can separate the two and still maintain our relationship.
Here’s an example of what that looks like:
There is a direct marketing athletic clothing company that has launched recently with some super cute styles at fairly reasonable prices. Between my own training and my work training others, it’s a fair assessment I spend 65%+ of my week in sportswear, and now that I wear straight-sized clothing, I’m an ideal client for these consultants to reach out to when they host their parties because they know I can order from them without hesitation. (*keep that last thought in your mind)
Let’s rewind to five or six years ago when I was at a size where sportswear was almost completely inaccessible due to my size. It is degrading, embarrassing, and downright uncomfortable to try and exercise in clothing that is not made for your body shape or size. If you’re lucky enough to find something made in that size, it is not flattering or fashionable (because, well, if you’re wearing something in a circus tent size, you should obviously look like one too). Now, as time as gone on, some brands have gotten better in expanding size lines, creating clothes that fit a fat body that are functional that are the same as their straight-sized lines, and done better at representing fat bodies in marketing and advertising, but there’s a long way to go.
As my body not only changed in size, but these various brands came available, I began to actively seek out the sportswear brands that have all-inclusive sizing. That means that the same leggings or sports bra for the person that wears a size 0 is also available for the person that wears a plus size 34. That’s an extremely tall order for a sportswear company, especially most small businesses, I get it. But it’s not impossible. And actually, the ones making it happen, are small businesses–the larger corporations are the ones lagging in this area.
I’ve made a personal commitment that as my current sportswear collection wears out/sizes out, that I am only purchasing clothing from companies that encompass inclusive sizing in their practices. Unfortunately, I lack the financial means to simply donate my current wardrobe and start from scratch, so each piece has been replaced appropriately as needed. This is important to me, not only from my own lived experience, but it also speaks to the principles in which I run my own business that I referenced the other day. I don’t feel right wearing a piece of clothing in my studio and having a client comment say something about it/ask where they can obtain it and it not be available for them (*remember that direct marketing company from earlier?). If I am to remove barriers from my clients achieving their goals, then I’m going to remove all barriers.
Not every company is on board yet, and unfortunately I have other commitments where I can’t hold true to this personal commitment. I belong to endurance sports teams that contract out their team gear each year. The endurance sports community is by far still behind the curve on inclusivity–there have been some improvements, a few niche companies have hit the market, but unfortunately endurance sportswear has not understood the need yet for inclusive sizing. Granted, I’ve done my homework in this arena because I’ve now worn a lot of different sizes–and while someone might not be able to wear the brand I’m currently wearing on a given day due to sizing availability, I am able to send someone in a reliable direction for quality swimming, cycling, and running gear to meet the needs of any sized body. Now, I’ve had a couple conversations where it’s been suggested that I should leave these teams. I disagree. When you look at the purpose of the teams, the people on the teams, and/or the mission or products those teams represent–the teams themselves are in full alignment with my values. I just have beef with their suppliers, but I continue to offer my opinions, suggestions, and advocate for inclusivity at every juncture in order to be a catalyst for change for the future. There’s a point in time where you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Advocacy for change is just as important.
We need to support each other when we can. When someone says no, they aren’t just being a douchebag. I’ve learned to explain my no to people, and that’s a really hard thing to do–mostly because I think in instances like this, people need to understand. I’ve been met with a myriad of responses. Sometimes people just don’t care–they just wanted to make a sale, and they move on. Others are genuinely blown away because they’ve never thought about it from this perspective (especially this clothing example). I know in my own business, I want to understand your no–and I will ask why. If you don’t want to explain, that’s fine, but it’s all a learning tool, and that’s part of business and life–learning, growing, and being supportive to one another too.
I want us all to succeed.