To say the least, we are in the midst of a tumultuous time in history. From the pandemic that shook our world, to the most recent spotlight on police brutality, inequality, and injustice in our country - current events have forced us all to pause and look inward. Natalie and I felt it was obvious that we should put H&T on mute last week so that we could listen and learn from the black community, which has been suffering and fighting unimaginable injustice for too long.
As we look forward, the only thing that felt right to talk about this week was how we can be better allies, and be the change we want to see in the world.
We believe in kindness and compassion, and that love can and will win over hate. We believe in equality and individuality. Every single person must have the equal right to life, liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness. Black lives matter. So what can we do - concretely - to translate these beliefs into action?
We feel this is an opportunity to reexamine, deepen, and recommit to our mission:
Harper & Tucker strives to be a haven for style-lovers, curated with goods that will bring you joy, made thoughtfully by labels who are kind to our planet and its people.
We mean we want to be a haven for ALL style lovers, and minority women are awfully underrepresented in the fashion industry. We can do better. We will do better. We must actively seek out diversity in our staff, our models, our business associates, and our makers. We must also insist that the brands we partner with commit to these standards. As of this publishing date, Show Me Your Mumu, Spell & The Gypsy Collective, Whimsy + Row, Joah Brown, and Rewined have already announced like-minded pledges and calls to action in the fight for equality. We must vow to hold each other accountable in this commitment. It is our greatest hope that we can all help create change, and drive the fashion industry to work diligently toward representing women of all races, sizes, and orientations.
We hope to promote kindness to all people and all living things in every aspect of our goods' journey - from sourcing makers committed to ethical practices, to partnering with women and minority owned businesses, to avoiding harmful materials in our packaging and clothing, to finding you the right pieces that will make you feel confident and happy. We believe that our commitments to environmental sustainability and civil rights are connected by the universal belief in empathy, kindness, and compassion. To stand up for both these causes means standing against exploitation, violence, and suffering. It means creating a place where everyone is safe.
We started this business with dreams of pretty things, of bringing lightness and fun and joy through style and fashion. At first, we built a website that embodied a boutique experience, then we opened the brick and mortar store that brought it to life. Whether you are visiting harperandtucker.com, or our little sunny shop on Bellevue Avenue, we want to be that oasis and safe haven - where you can come for a chat, or a golden retriever cuddle, or your favorite new dress. We are committed to making H&T a place of welcome and happiness for all.
We know that we all have so much to learn, such a long way to go, and so much work to do - in our communities, in our businesses, in our homes, and in our souls. Talking about anti-racism, educating ourselves, and making commitments to change are just the first steps. But we still believe there is light ahead. The more of us that speak up for a better future for all, and demand and promote change in ways big and small, the closer we are. This pivotal moment of education, civic participation, and unity means nothing if we don't wake up tomorrow (and the next day, and the next) and do it all over again.
As we start to think about clothes again, we don't want to lose the momentum of this drive for change - instead, we want to weave these lessons into our every day routines. We want our mission to echo in everything that we do. We would love to share some small bright spots happening at the shop right now - they will seem tiny compared to the magnitude of what is going on in the world, but we must believe that progress can happen even in small, cumulative actions that pull us in the right direction.
Behind the scenes, we have been taking a hard look at our packaging. When we took on our commitment to sustainability this year, this was a natural step in reducing our footprint. Our goal is to reduce our waste as much as possible, eliminate plastics, and to use only materials that are recycled and recyclable or biodegradable and compostable. We also learned that adhesive and dyes must be plant based and non-toxic. In order to accomplish this, we completely overhauled all of our packing and shipping materials to adhere to new standards. As of last week, we have officially transitioned all of our tissue paper and mailers. We hope within the next month the rest of our transition will be 100% complete; we are just waiting to receive our new stickers and note cards!
We have included links to where we have sourced each piece of packaging, so that you can do any of your own research and even buy some for yourself, if you have the need! In this transition, we were able to completely eliminate plastics in our packaging, which we are beyond proud of. If you compost, you will be able to throw away everything we send you right in there. If you don't, our packaging will still decompose in the landfill, and the paper you can recycle!
It has been quite a challenge to reimagine our marketing in a time where we can't hold photoshoots. We have been so missing our shoot days with Maaike Bernstrom, and longing for the insanely beautiful imagery she creates for us. H&T feels less like itself without her touch of magic - we have never gone so many months without it! We are counting down the days until we are confident that we can safely host our next shoot with Maaike, but until then, we knew we had to get creative. We have learned more than once that sometimes when we are forced to think outside the box, we stumble upon the best new things.
It was in this time that we were lucky enough to meet Bernadette and Renee of Heydt + Mason. They are the amazing local women behind all of the flat lay imagery you may have seen across our platforms. Because they style and shoot still-life products in their studio (without models), we have been able to work with them while following contact-free and social distancing protocols. Their styled images were the final link in our visual stories, and have elevated our aesthetic. Unlike the rest of our visuals, these focus singularly on the clothing, and can show styling ideas and moods in fresh new ways, off the model. We cannot contain our excitement imagining how these crisp, focused flat lay images will mix with the magical editorials we will soon be able to create again with Maaike. Finding Heydt + Mason has truly been a silver lining in this crazy time.
We also realized that we were longing for some more free-form imagery. We are are so excited to reveal the watercolor of our store (featured at the top of this blog), which was painted just for us by Natalie's cousin Jessica June Avrutin. We were speechless when she sent us the final product - it just truly captures the essence of our little store (and the shop dogs you know and love). We are so excited that this watercolor will be printed on all of our new sustainable notecards, so that you can get a feel for the soul of H&T, even if you've never seen the brick and mortar shop in person.
We are always proud to work with local, women led small businesses and artists. We honestly cannot imagine it any other way, and feel lucky to have met them through Harper & Tucker, and to be able to call them business associates as well as friends.
We mentioned earlier that we are going to be actively seeking out diversity in our makers. We have only just begun this process, but we did want to share with you the first gem we have discovered. Devi Arts Collective makes by hand the loveliest dainty jewelry pieces with ethically sourced materials.
In 2014, designer and goldsmith, Bayoush Mengesha started Devi Arts Collective to take inspiration from the beautiful and extraordinary world around her. Every design starts from Bayoush’s imagination while she immerses herself in the beautiful world that surrounds her. Every texture, every ridge she creates in her pieces mimics images of nature. Bayoush’s Ethiopian heritage has taught her about the beauty which can come from that delicate dance between the simple and the complex.
This is just the first new minority-owned maker we are adding to our assortment, but we pledge to be the first of many. We know our store will be all the more beautiful for it. This is such an opportunity to find and introduce you to artisans and designers we may not otherwise have even met. Despite the difficulty of this time, we are grateful for this - for coming together, for discovering.
We promise you that we will keep working hard every day toward the mission we have outlined here today, and that we will keep the fire for justice and change burning inside us. Please contact us if you have thoughts about how we can be better allies, or suggestions for minority-led fashion brands you love and think we should partner with! Our eyes and ears are open, and we want this to be a discussion that continues on.
We will be returning to H&T Happy Hour @harperandtucker Instagram Live this Friday at 5:30 PM EST - we have missed you, and we hope to see you there! Bring a cocktail, questions, and ideas and we will talk more about sparking necessary change in the fashion industry, and bright spots we can move toward to make our store, our community, and our industry a better place.