Fire hoses are decommissioned for one of two reasons, they either reach the 25-year end of their health and safety life or they are too damaged to repair. They either miraculously survive 25 years of active service, or they die trying.
We weren’t entrepreneurs in search of an idea, we didn’t set out to make luxury accessories. We simply wanted to save the hose. We couldn’t let these rich, durable, life-saving, lustrous coils of deep red nitrile rubber go.
Elvis learned to sew. We started with a simple range of belts and grew slowly from there. We have rescued all of London’s decommissioned hoses since 2005, and have donated 50% of the profits to the Fire Fighters Charity. So these hoses are still working hard, long after their first life. Imagine that, hoses that were supposed to die in landfill have instead helped injured firefighters; they have funded more than 6000 exercise therapy sessions, 1500 hydrotherapy sessions, 1200 physio sessions, 1200 psychological support sessions, and 300 days of the Services Access Line.
It is an honour to run a business that works like this, that is a Certified Social Enterprise and one of the first B Corps in the UK. So you can imagine how we feel, when November rolls around and people start talking about Black Friday.
To put it very simply, we don't like Black Friday. And because we don’t like it, we have never participated in any discount day or sales season.
Let me explain...
1 - Elvis & Kresse is not a fast moving consumer goods brand. We aren't fast at all. We are slow. Our materials are rescued and their transformation takes time. We build to last, not for obsolescence.
2 - We believe in good value every day, not just for a few days each year. Our pricing is based on labour, creativity and innovation; we have a highly skilled team and our prices reflect the costs of running a pioneering ethical and sustainable business, which is more interested in impact than profit.
3 - We don't do seasons. We don't have different pieces for different times of the year, and we certainly aren't interested in the weekly collections or even 'daily-drops' being released across the fashion industry. Seasons or other forms of entrenched 'refreshing' naturally result in over-production and waste.
Our wash bags photograph well in the snow, but they aren't just for Christmas.
4 - We produce in small batches and when these are sold we make more. We don't overproduce without knowing what works. This means we don't end up with dead-stock that we could only sell at a discount. In 15 years we have never had dead-stock.
5 - Concentrating such a frenzy around a few random days of the year like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, China's 'Singles Day', Boxing Day, or any other seasonal sales days would be unsustainable for our small team. We have a happy team. There is no need to inject this kind of stress. Equally, there is no need to induce anxiety in potential customers that might lead to panic buying or purchases without thought and feeling.
6 - Elvis & Kresse are different by design. Always have been, always will be. The world, as it is, isn't good enough. If we want it to change, we have to behave differently. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We can't simply lament, we have to act.