I’ll never forget the scene. It was 2011 and Pierogi Picnic was really up and kickin’. I was in the midst of preparing for a huge show, had lots of orders coming in off of Etsy, and press to match. And then that phone call came. The one that you never think will really happen to you – it’s just something you read off some crafter-gone-pro’s website.
But then it happens. You’re invited to participate in a huge, whirlwind, opportunity-of-your-dreams. There will be press, runways, news cams, hundreds of thousands of people, a stage and more.
The business manager in you kicks in and you ask the big questions. And you get the answers.
So what does a gal like me do in this situation? I decline.
“Are you nuts?!” exclaimed one friend. “How could you say no?” screamed another. “Easy” – I’d replied. “My business ethics.”
From the start of Pierogi Picnic in 2008 I made four oaths:
1) To be as green as can be.
2) To make my creations affordable, yet profitable.
3) To make everything from scratch, in small batches.
4) To represent people of all shapes, looks and sizes.
There were other convictions that helped shape what my business would become. These included everything from doing my own graphic design and accounting to branding my biz as something uplifting and cheerful.
Why all this context? Well, it’s because of #4 that I declined to participate in an opportunity that could have propelled Pierogi Picnic to fame and, possibly, fortune.
During my phone conversation I learned that the opp required use of professional models through the Ford agency, which is not something I could agree to. It would compromise my vision for a brand that showed all kinds of beauty.
So that’s why I declined. Crazy? Maybe. But I’d still make the same decision today!
Growing up in a culture that blatantly worshiped stick straight, lanky, 90s-era Kate Moss thin-mints, left a nasty mark on my self esteem. As an early-blooming teen I found myself stuck in a cycle of obsessing over the haves and have-nots of my body. This led to serious boughts of depression, anorexia and even a phobia of eating in public.
Being a teen was hard enough – but to then deal with all of this? Yuck!
Having majored in film production and worked in advertising I know better than to blame the ills of society on media.
But there is also a reason why companies pay millions of dollars on ad campaigns – they work. They’re truly influential. That’s why early in Pierogi Picnic’s life I knew I wanted to take a strong stance on the imagery I’d be sending out into the world.
So from the get-go I deliberately recruited friends and family, that came in a variety of shapes, looks and sizes, to model my handmade clothing. Variety is the spice of life after all – and what better way to show off everyday wearables than with the people who will actually use them?! That’s my philosophy at least.
The way I see it is, if we can orchestrate a bit of change in our corner of the world, then it’s all worth it. And if we don’t, and we compromise our ideals, then it’s all for naught.
Here’s to highlighting all the naturally beautiful everyday people in our lives and being brave enough to stand up for what’s right!