How It All Started
2020 has taught us a lot. It has taught us to be teachers to our children, to address our privilege every day, to see kindness in others, and to say thank you. We have learned new traditions, new priorities, and new hobbies. We have become brave. We have gotten divorced, engaged, pregnant... Many would say I lost my mind, quit my job and started a business with zero savings and zero knowledge. To them I would say, that is absolutely true! But I would also say that Oak and Fir started well before quarantine.
A little over a year ago I stumbled upon the phrase “Fast Fashion”. It was a phrase I had seen and heard countless times before but one that I hadn’t ever taken the time to truly understand. I had been making efforts to reduce my waste for about a year by this point - I opted for glass or metal containers when possible, I shopped in the bulk bins, and I brought my own straws to the coffee shop. But for some reason, clothing did not cross my mind as waste. And why should it? We scroll through social media to see a seagull choking on a plastic bag or a coral reef littered with cans and bottles, and we stop and think about our consumption. But if we scroll through social media and see a photo of a pile of old clothes? We might stop and think about how badly we need to do laundry, but do we think about how we consume clothing? It is hard to understand the scale or consequence of our culture’s addiction to “Fast Fashion”. But that is a blog for another day. This is about how Oak and Fir went from dream to reality.
After doing a few google searches and learning about Fast Fashion’s environmental impact, I made the decision to only ever purchase sustainable clothing. I became the thrift store's most frequent shopper. I did my best to take care of my clothing and repair what was in need of a few stitches. Clothes that I no longer loved I would give to friends and family or donate. But sometimes there is clothing that you just can not find at the thrift store and I needed to buy new. This past summer, that was plain black leggings. An essential in my wardrobe and judging by the lack of presence at the thrift stores, an essential in everyone else's as well. So I took to the internet to find a pair of leggings that were from a company that shared my values and did not break the bank. This was seemingly impossible! And I found myself thinking, “how can we possibly expect our society to reject fast fashion and begin to shop slow and small when products are not accessible to everyone?”.
And with that question in my mind and an itch to do something completely different, I had decided. I was going to become my own employer and open my own business following my own values. But what would I call it? As I sat on my couch with my laptop open to the free trial signup page of Shopify, I looked to my right and saw my beagle Oakley eating one of my socks. And there I had my name Oak and Birch. Except that was already taken. So we became Oak and Fir, another one-syllable tree name I knew the name of. And I made my first order of Black Organic Cotton Leggings.