The pandemic shone a spotlight on many vulnerabilities in our society - missing social supports, fragile supply chains and severe economic instability. It also forced a collective pause - time to sit and think about the current state of our system, the status quo and what truly brings meaning and value to our lives. With the year coming to a close and a life-saving vaccine being deployed around our country and the world, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. It is time to reflect on what we’ve learned and how we can come together to create a better future.
With this in mind, we talked to the founder of Tradle, Blyth Gill, about his insights and managing the first year of a business amidst a pandemic.
Blyth, what was your biggest challenge this year?
Like everything else, we had to press the pause button when the pandemic first arrived. Our biggest initial concern was how the virus was transmitted and if delivering new or gently-used clothing could be a concern. There were a few months where people were quite hesitant to try Tradle, but as more information about the virus became available, members actually became more comfortable with the convenience of exchanging Tradle clothes than going into busy retail shops. That pause, however, disrupted our inventory management plans and so now we’re trying to get things back on track!
The Tradle team in pre-COVID days
What were the 1st year’s biggest successes?
With everything that’s going on in the world, simply arriving at our 1st anniversary in 2020 is a big success. I’m grateful to be able to continue this journey to serve new families, local businesses and our entire community so we can all thrive in a better system that works in harmony with Mother Nature. We’re especially grateful to our members who have stood by and helped us to understand how we can do better and how to navigate through these ups and downs. It’s a big success every time we hear a heart-warming sentiment about the need for creating a new normal and discovering these shared feelings connects and builds relationships on a deeper and more meaningful level - which is what we need, it’s what people need - and consequentially, it’s what the Tradle community needs.
Another small success was finishing within the Top 40 of New Ventures BC Business Competition applicants and then finishing Top 10 of the Spring Activator’s 2020 Impact Investor Challenge. It’s great to start showcasing the need for a business and a community of people who are transitioning towards a sustainable, zero-waste circular economy.
We also recently joined the Textile Lab for Circularity advisory panel and are excited to work with more local Vancouver clothing and textile businesses in the new year.
What was the most memorable moment of the year?
We had the chance to work with many different students at both the University of British Columbia and the Somerville Academy. It was inspiring to collaborate with students near and far, all working hard and putting so much effort into projects during a turbulent time. to work with and collaborate with students going through their academic journeys can apply what they’re learning to Tradle and we get to benefit from the newest strategies that are getting taught in schools. It was a rewarding and fulfilling experience for all.
What are your goals for 2021?
We want to make the Tradle experience 10 times better. From first becoming aware of Tradle to receiving and exchanging that first set of clothes, to building stronger relationships with all of our members. Everything we do, we want to do 10 times better. We are setting a clearer vision for the company and setting a strong foundation of values and beliefs that we hope will inspire people to join us in this monumental effort, not just to provide a new clothing subscription - but to create a better way for families, businesses, communities and the resources gifted to us from the Earth to prosper. We want to become catalysts for change - and as we learn and figure out the best way to make a positive impact, we want to bring our community along on that journey. Through our presence online and in conversations with customers we want to talk about real activism, how to vote with your dollars, buy what you believe in and bringing governments on board to create change and what individual actions are the most impactful.
Of course, we hope this inspires people to join our cause so we can grow our community of new parents, local brands and generous friends and family providing free/gifted subscriptions. We’re also about to embark on a journey to find like-minded, impact investors to help us execute our vision, build out our values and grow Tradle’s team to properly deliver that meaningful experience and service we know we can deliver.
What is your final message to the Tradle community?
This year we all experienced so much being taken away from us - that it provided a truly unique opportunity to reflect and recognize what’s actually important and valuable to us. It is clear that what we really value aren’t the material things, it’s connecting with our loved ones and having meaningful social interactions. That is where our priorities should lie and we need to support the local brands and businesses who often embody those values by providing spaces for gathering and giving back to improve the wellbeing of their community.
2020 has reinforced the realization that everything needs to change and Tradle hopes to empower new families, sustainable local business and collaborating communities to lead that change. People and the planet must come first. This is our responsibility and this is our focus for 2021. Thank you for supporting us in our first year and I am excited to only grow in our impact in the years to follow.