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THE BUSINESS OF ETHICAL FASHION

Posted on 01 March 2016

THE BUSINESS OF ETHICAL FASHION

Here at Bikini Empire, we like to do things a little different. We have chosen to manufacture in Vancouver, Canada, using the finest Italian eco-fabric we could find. The trend in fashion in recent years has been to outsource manufacturing overseas, for as cheap as possible. We thought this was a pretty lame model to follow, so we decided to do something about it.

Manufacturing here in Canada, and being a young, creative startup, we had to find a way to get some unconventional financing. We wanted to avoid going to the bank at all costs, because really, who likes dealing with banks?


As most of you may know, we launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund our 2016 collection. We had our eye on a three-fold expansion, and were only able to do this if we raised over 20,000 of operating capital.


What many of our customers may not know, is that we were also able to finance our expansion through a 'micro-loan' ​program called Sharp Solutions. This program is offered by Sharp Six​, a capacity building firm in Vancouver that works with community driven organizations​. Through Sharp Solutions they offer​, ​​flexible microloans to community minded, influential companies and organizations that need capital to reach a specific goal. For us it was a perfect match. They were over the moon excited to hear about Bikini Empire and our goals, and were thrilled to invest in our business as they could see the value in a business that manufactured locally and ethically.


One of the biggest challenges of being a small startup business is finding investment money, especially for creative businesses. We have spoken to so many fashion designers and artists who are shackled to a bank loan that offers no flexibility. They find themselves in a scenario where they have chosen to stop working for the man and still find themselves 'workin' for the man' to pay off a loan. Not fun.


We believe so strongly in the power of community and programs like Sharp Solutions that help creative entrepreneurs thrive that we just had to tell our story about our microloan from Sharp Six. They customized a unique loan agreement with us that no bank would have touched with a 10 foot pole. We were able to use the investment money to expand our ethically made swimwear across Canada.

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