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The Ana + Zac store is on the verge of creating sustainable communities by spreading the magic of sustainable clothing by incorporating the “slow fashion” model in their conventional business model.
It all starts with the manufacturing of pima cotton clothes made from high quality fabrics in Peru, contributing to greater longevity of the clothing produced. Anna, one of two business partners, claims that using the high quality fabrics alongside their “lean production” technique helps to mitigate the issue of plastic pollution in oceans (Ana + Zac, n.d.). This innovative yet ethical approach sets them apart from the other prominent fast fashion giants whereby the philosophy of quantity over quality is practiced. Importantly, utilizing good quality fabrics helps Ana + Zac address the UN’s SDG #14: Life Below Water, by protecting marine organisms from ingesting shredded plastics from the washing and manufacturing process. Notably, Zac, business partner to Anna, during the interview said, “We need to combat climate change,” and goes on to explain that the purpose is to reduce the amount of plastic floating in the marine ecosystem; by reducing volumes of plastic in bodies of water, it aids in lowering the albedo and greenhouse effect (Dobbin, 2021 & Resnick, 2019). This multiplier effect is primarily due to less plastics being generated from the higher quality fabrics & the innovative business model, and, fortunately, it does help social enterprises like Ana + Zac to contribute to the UN’s SDG # 13: Climate Action as well.
During the initial years, both partners still remember how the local community encouraged them to practice doing 'business ethically.' Essentially, Anna says, “Biscuit General Store’s owner, Wendy Friedman, is her inspiration,” because Wendy also does business in the clothing industry and has been supportive of 'local and Canadian brands' (Dobbin, 2021). She also outlined how Wendy helped her by giving practical insight and advice to successfully operate an ethical business, while also turning profit, motivating both Anna and Zac to develop Ana + Zac. While closing the interview with Anna and Zac, Anna showed her company’s Instagram page, and that really explained to me what it takes to promote ethical consumerism. Yes, it is an innovative approach the company is using. They are using their very own consumers, a local model or just a regular person, to promote their clothing line. This has really helped the company maintain a 'healthy customer acquisition and return rates,' leading to 'doubling' of sales year after year 'despite the pandemic.' Although the company is still in its early stages, its innovative business model and inclusive attitude has caught the attention of big news channels like CBC. It can be said confidently that Ana + Zac is in the quest of achieving the ambitious UN’s SDG goal #12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Lastly, talking about purpose, Ana + Zac are constantly looking for ways to promote the triple bottom line by encouraging more 'sustainable practices' and 'transparency' in its business, to better serve the environment and its customers, and the company’s current practices align with the same purpose.
Ana + Zac, created by Anna and Zac is the project of their own inspiration. Surrounded by nature and its colours, they manage to build an ethical business. Together, they design basic quality clothing that they love and they can share. The aim is to create durable clothes that will last for a long time, but also leave the smallest footprint. Ana+Zac is the perfect combination of fashion and ethics, slow fashion.
Along the way, they “helped each other to learn and to grow”, and they stayed “kind to each other when things got tough." This enabled them to always be inspired by each other and create this ethical project.
Nowadays, they are continuously inspired by their community made of thoughtful consumers who participate in the habit of sharing clothing and living a slower lifestyle. (Ana + Zac, 2021).
Anna says, “We have learned from our customers who inspire us to be better designers by understanding their needs and making them feel special and included."
The owners of Ana + Zac have worked alongside each other since 2012 designing clothing pieces and images that prioritizes sustainable business practices. Their inspiration and values have impacted what we know of Ana + Zac today.
The sustainable brand has now been in business since 2019, has expanded all across Canada and with it, inspired consumers to become more environmentally-conscious in their shopping habits. “We hope we can contribute to the global changes we need to make to combat climate change, and in turn, combat wasteful consumption with ethical and conscious business practices.”
Their partnership with organic cotton manufacturer, Raintex, in Peru has contributed to an ethical sourcing of primary materials. Their practices have a significant impact on their environmental footprint as well as other businesses to participate in sustainability.
The ethics of the brand Ana + Zac has improved the quality of life for the workers responsible for each piece of clothing sold to consumers.
As a slow-fashion business, they continue to influence the community to protect our environment and to be more conscious of our consumption. Their set of values and ethics are what they wish to inspire us with, to continue to protect the Earth. “As long as we are practicing sustainable and ethical business and encouraging our community to be more conscious in their buying habits and choosing to support small brands doing good then we are contributing for the long term towards a more enlightened society.” (Ana + Zac, 2021)
Ana + Zac use a slow fashion model that takes advantage of a short-supply chain. By keeping the supply chain short, Ana+Zac are able to pay close attention to the business and all the intermediary processes. This allows them to keep strong control and make sure that the workers are paid fairly, and all their processes throughout the entire chain are done ethically. Their idea to meet the ethical, sustainable and local needs of their customer, has proven success by their increasing demand and short-supply. (Ana + Zac, n.d)
By starting locally in Halifax and expanding from there, they were able to meet the growing demand of consumers and cater to a somewhat niche market. This gave the business the sales they needed to be successful and follow their goal of providing slow fashion.
Ana + Zac use recycled plastic packages and try to leave the smallest footprint that they can (Ana + Zac, n.d). This helps society greatly by trying to do their part in trying to combat climate change through sustainability. Historically, fashion uses plastic abundantly in their manufacturing process. The use of plastic in clothing helped many businesses cut costs and speed up their production -- giving rise to fast and throwaway fashion. This term refers to the fact that people buy cheap clothes and dispose of them in a short span of time, making them continuously buy more and more clothes (Usborne S., 2019 July 16). By moving away from this to more sustainable means, demonstrating their strong ethical mindset which helps improve the standard of living of not only their employees, but the broader ends of society. Not to mention, they also contribute to the ‘shopping local’ movement and provide a unique and personal experience to their clients.
Having a business that supports the environment, and exemplifies that practicing sustainability is profitable and doable in the long term, can benefit societies pre-existing notions of profits and sustainability not being compatible. “Hoping we can continue to influence our community to help protect our environment, and to think about how we consume on a deeper level," their hopes for their business and society as a whole (Ana Gikerson, Personal Communication, November 20, 2021). This makes Ana + Zac a company that is not only taking action against bad practices for the environment, but one that also highlights the success there is in sustainable fashion.
Anna Gilkerson, CEO
Ana + Zac is a Nova Scotian clothing brand that creates sustainable clothing using a method known as the slow fashion model. Their way of running their business has led them to take steps to accomplish some of the UN's SDG goals, specifically, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action and Life Below Water. This focus towards being sustainable, and doing each step of the process as ethically as possible, has led them to even find an ethical source for their cotton by Raintex: an organic cotton manufacturer in Peru. Their goal is to develop eco-friendly ways to consume and emphasize more conscious buying habits. This is so we can have an enlightened society in the near future.