08 Sustainable, Ethically Made Mis-Matchable Socks and Determining the True Cost of a Product with Melita Cyril from Q for Quinn
Melita Cyril from social impact business Q for Quinn makes certified organic cotton basics for children, ethically. We explore the environmental costs of manufacturing conventional cotton, and the potential health risks of the colourful dyes, and pesticides used. We learn how Melita’s trip to an orphanage on her thirteenth birthday and her newborns son’s eczema both inspired Melita to create change, how she’s carefully selected her manufacturing partners in developing countries, and why she feels that there are many more things we need to consider when determining the true cost of a product.
If you want to Learn more about Melita and her certified organic, mismatchable socks, visit https://www.qforquinn.com. Looking to buy a pair? Through Mary’s Meals and the 1 pair = 1 meal initiative, Melita has donated 28,000 meals. You can follow along with Melita on her mission to create comfortable and practical basics which are gentle for your skin and for the planet on Facebook at qforquinnshop or Instagram at q.for.quinn.
About the Host
I'm Jennifer Myers Chua. The Host and Producer of the Cost Of Goods Sold podcast. I'm an entrepreneur, a creative, a cookbook fanatic, mother. I have always been interested in hearing people's stories and I've been determined to change the world for as long as I can remember.
You'll find me at home in Toronto deconstructing recipes, listening to podcasts, enjoying time with friends or wandering alone through a big city. I'm excited to have you here. Let's do better, together.
Jennifer Chua: Hello, everyone. And welcome. You’re listening to Cost of Goods Sold with Jennifer Myers Chua episode 08.
In today’s episode, we chat with Melita Cyril from Q for Quinn. We explore the environmental costs of manufacturing, conventional cotton. And the potential health risks of the colorful dyes and pesticides used. We learn how Melita’s trip to an orphanage on her 13th, birthday and her newborn son’s eczema, both inspired Melita to create change, how she’s carefully selected her manufacturing partners in developing countries, and why she feels that there are many more things that we need to consider when determining the true cost of a product.
Certified organic is something that we hear about more and more often. And even in the last few years, since Q for Quinn was founded, it has become more of a thing. And although we all know that we might want to look into organic when buying things like strawberries, for example, does anyone look that carefully at socks?
Meltia designed her gentle socks to help with her son’s eczema. She uses GOTS certified cotton and OOEKO-TX 100 certified facilities. We’ll learn what all of that means in just a bit.
But unless produce was sustainable practices. Cotton is a huge challenge. And unless it’s certified, who is to know how sustainable the manufacturers really are. Most cotton is grown overseas in parts of the world that are vulnerable to exploitation and cotton farming and manufacturing can be associated with high environmental, social and economic impacts. Buying socks? There’s a lot more to consider than your size.
I fell in love with Q for Quinn socks, not because they’re organic for me, it was the thoughtful design. One pack of three socks is really nine mismatchable socks that share a color palette and a theme. So there’s no more crying over misplaced kid socks and no need to tossthe second in a pair. If one has been destroyed. They’re gender neutral, boast fun prints, and patterns, and are incredibly comfortable and high quality. And Q for Quinn’s social impact business model means that each purchase helps solve one of the world’s biggest problems.
Melita grew up in Sri Lanka. She moved to the UK for her undergrad and started her career there in investment banking. She was a trader with Lehman brothers and worked for credit Swiss, but she always had a feeling that banking, that this work, wasn’t meant for her longterm. And soon after meeting her Canadian husband, the pair spontaneously moved to Toronto. And after completing her MBA at the university of Toronto, Melita had a better idea of what the city had to offer. What the corporate culture here was like and what kind of opportunities she might have to look forward to. And she also knew that she wanted to escape the whole banking world. It had been stressful. She didn’t feel as if she helped. She didn’t feel as if she was in control of her hours and the work did not feel meaningful. Her life now felt like she had more freedom and the opportunity to do something, to contribute to society. She knew it was time for a change.
Melita Cyril: I knew in the long term, I wanted to build my own business, some sort, build something cause my dad was an entrepreneur and he started his business with nothing. So I’d always been influenced. By him. When I was a kid, he would drag me to all of these business meetings. Whenever we would go on vacation. It was always, there was always business with it. So I would say that part of that also influenced my decision to start something and I felt I actually wasn’t working when I had my son, because I had worked my body to the ground that I struggled with infertility and So I decided to take some time off, help, go back to Sri Lanka, help my dad with the business.
And eventually we sold the business. And then I came back and I was like, now what? But we got pregnant. And I was, I’m just going to take some time off and enjoy this. And that’s what I did. So when my son was born, I actually didn’t have a job to go back to which actually gave me even more motivation to start something. And I felt like the timing was right.
Jennifer Chua: Melita had her son and within the first couple of months, he began to have some issues with his skin. Doing some digging, Melita began to learn about conventional cotton and the potential toxins used in making baby clothes. Over 90% of baby socks have been found to contain known irritants, and she learned that these often contribute to skin issues like eczema. She was having difficulty finding soft, organic cotton basics for her new babe, especially socks. And this led to the spark that started her thinking about creating Q for Quinn.
Melita Cyril: That’s sparked the idea and I think just not having another option made it seem like I went all in on it because I didn’t have a job to go back to. And I’m glad I did.
Jennifer Chua: Melita began to build her business and looked back to her father for inspiration. His business had been wildly different. He was in the printing and packaging industries. He worked with printers and those manufacturing packaging.
And later he would work with large commercial brands like HP and related technologies. Very different industries. And very far from socks. Regardless. She learned some lessons from being dragged around to all those business meetings as a child, and she hopes to carry these forward as she continues to build Q for Quinn.
Melita Cyril: I think the biggest lesson and I haven’t got a chance to fully apply it. Cause we have a really small team is just building a solid team and caring for the people. Cause to this day, my dad has sold his company, but. A lot of his, like employees we’ll speak very highly of him, how he trained them and, and all of that. And I thought, oh, I want that. Like, if this company were to, grow into something meaningful, when we end up having a, a relatively, a decent sized team, I want to be in a position where I could inspire people, train people. To do better and to to improve the skillset. And that’s what my dad did. So I thought,that part of it was pretty rewarding. For sure And also, I think one thing I learned just from a business perspective is focusing on profitability and margins because that ultimately that’s going to what is going to sustain your business.
So not compromising too much on pricing and from a business perspective, making sure you’re profitable and being sustainable, which is getting harder and harder to do these days. It was a rising cost and of, of business. And the pricing of more sustainable goods and even having to justify it to consumers is a challenge especially when you’re competing with lower price products from parts of the world and from places where, you know, sustainability and even the input products used are harmful to the environment and, and to us.
Jennifer Chua: Was there an event that shaped how you see the world? Like, I’m wondering why sustainability means so much to you.
Melita Cyril: I think, especially after I became a mom and I wanna raise my kids in a world that also exists past, my generation. So I felt like it became my responsibility to make sure that I do whatever I can. I do my part to ensure a sustainable future for my kids. And I think a lot of moms feel the same way. And I think we might just be within that demographic that makes more of those choices and it’s encouraging to see a lot of the other, like the other demographics, like millennials also choosing. Right. But I think, just being a parent and being responsible for another generation ahead of you. I feel like I’ve got to do my part to, to be more sustainable.
I also started to find that being more sustainable is not just purely for the planet. It’s also. It’s also a healthier option for you because it also means whatever is bad for the environment and whatever’s bad for our planet is also bad for our bodies. So the pesticides used in the production of cotton. That’s bad for the environment, but it’s also bad for us to inhale it or to the workers that make that in the cotton plantations and the processing of cotton to the fabric. Not just cotton, bamboo and whatever. It’s, bad for their health too. Going back to what motivates me and what we wish we had more often the world it’s kindness, to people, and also kindness to our planet.
Jennifer Chua: I actually have been exploring that concept a little bit more and more lately, which is how much sustainability and health are actually linked. And I think a lot of people don’t consider that so much because there are a lot of people that are very interested in their health and very motivated by that who might not be interested in sustainability or not understand that connection.
Melita Cyril: Exactly. And, you know, I I’ll raise my hand up and say it is hard to be, to make sustainable choices is usually more expensive. It is usually Less convenient. And, and so I get that culprit too. I’m not like always sustainable with my choices as a consumer, but when it comes to health, we try a bit harder.
And so that provides more of a compelling reason. And I think everybody is born inherently, somewhat selfish, to be honest, right. So we think of our own that’s human nature. We think about our own needs before we think of you don’t need to. For others and you know, it makes sense. We’ve got to be that on good health before we can take care of others.
And so immediately when I, when you make a decision for sustainability is usually secondary, I feel. But when it comes to your health, that’s going to be a primary factor. To motivate you to, to buy. And that was also premier factor factor. When I designed the socks, because I started to, when I did my research, I started to understand how many chemicals and toxins were in, in clothing.
I mean, I knew they were in food and I knew they were in skincare products, but it didn’t occur to me that much, that it wasn’t also in our clothing. And that was. I guess a primarily primary drive for me to create not only more sustainable products, but healthier products for our kids.
Jennifer Chua: Could you tell me a little bit more about the story of coming up with the idea and then moving this forward into an actual business.
Melita Cyril: My son did suffer from eczema, especially on his feet, sometimes in different parts of his body. I tried to go organic a lot with his clothing, but I had a tough time finding organic cotton socks. And socks that were breathable. I think the way too many socks are made are majority polyester. And then even the regular cotton socks. Now that I know what I know, I feel like, you know, because of all the chemicals, he was just sort of reacting to it. And so that, that was the pain point that I had, but me being the business person or like my, with my business background,
I started researching like what are the options for organic cotton socks? What about the cost to make it, cost to ship? Can I build a sustainable business from it? Can I make this also fun ? I didn’t know. At the time, like there is a relatively high incidents of kids with eczema, but it’s not such a common problem that I, that I could go maybe mainstream with it. And so I looked at ideas to make it more fun. So I actually ended up writing a book about socks. I, I really sort of was driven by the creative drive that comes with having an idea and creating something. So now I’m writing a book about socks and then launching the company. Obviously there was designing the product, finding the manufacturer. Doing tons and tons of prototypes, testing samples on the then sort of limited sample size of friends and family that I had to figure out fit, to get feedback, and eventually come up with a product that could be manufactured and then launched.
So the whole process took about six months. And then when you launch, the harder part is getting the word out. And and you know, initially it was friends and family, actually, when we first launched that was a complete stranger who had bought my product. So I was like, wow, somebody actually, you know, who didn’t didn’t know me, bought my product. So that was that was quite cool. After launching. Sort of trying to figure out, where I should market our products how to reach that consumer who’s starting to pay attention or who has the same problems that I had, and is also starting to pay attention to what’s in their socks and clothing and and also building a more sustainable future for their kids.
Jennifer Chua: How are you different from other companies that sell children’s basics?
Melita Cyril: Our products are all now GOTS certified organic. So we make them from organic cotton. We also have a merino wool collection. We focus on materials that are sustainable, and the production process from farm to consumer is free from common harsh chemicals. So what the GOTS certification means is is that our products are tested and audited from the source to make sure they are free or they follow the highest environmental standards and are also free from chemicals and toxins that are commonly found. That have quite honestly become mainstream. I would also highlight the fact that GOTS is not just an environmental set of standards is also a social set of standards. The companies that we work with, or the manufacturers that we work with, they’re also GOTS certified. And in order to be GOTS certified, they have to show that they paid their workers living wages, not just minimum wages and offer them very safe working conditions and there is no coercion or anything like that going on there. The standards are upheld to the highest level of social standards in a lot of these countries. And so just sourcing from GOTS certified facilities being GOTS certified brands we are held to those same standards. We source from Portugal, Sri Lanka and India. There are family owned facilities. We’ve visited them. We have a good relationship with them. We have transparency and we know we have the security so that we can offer this consumers the same security of where their clothes came from and the fact that they’ve been tested to make sure that there’s no contamination with non-organic products or any harmful chemicals. And I would say that’s our main differentiator.
Jennifer Chua: I’m so thrilled to hear that you visited with the factories and that you truly understand them. Cause a lot of people are manufacturing things and sending them over on the internet to anywhere else in the world, and they don’t have any real idea of what the standards are like at the factory or how the people are being treated. I appreciate that.
Melita Cyril: Yeah. And part of this was me also, growing up in Sri Lanka and just like, I would go to my dad’s customers who had factories. And so, I mean, I guess for me, it was also a little bit easier for me because my dad lives in Sri Lanka. So. My dad represented me to go because obviously in the last year and a half, we haven’t been able to travel because of COVID. And through the three years of the business, I had two more kids. So that made it a bit harder. But my dad, he has been the facilities that, of course, in the facility, in Sri Lanka, he visits them often because he’s there. So that makes it logistically easier for us to do, but it’s so important to know. To really does not even rely on and certification as such, but to see it for yourself.
I look for OEKOTX100 as well as a minimum. That is similar to GOTS but it’s not just for organic products that is specifically for harmful chemicals. So whenever somebody asks me, especially if there’s an item we don’t carry and they say, how do I make sure that a a product is safefor my baby or for my kid, or even for myself. I say, if they don’t have GOTS at least look for this certification, because it can be for conventional cotton GOTS who only certified organic cotton as an example. But would not certify convention cotton. So if, if the product is conventional cotton, at least make sure they have that certification because at least the facilities and the, the textiles have been tested for over a hundred harmful substances. So as a consumer, those are the two like certifications that I look for the GOTS and if it’s not organic or, GOTS does not certify all types of fabric and all of our facilities are also OEKOTX100 certified as well.
Jennifer Chua: Why is conventional cotton so problematic?
Melita Cyril: So the pesticides used to grow the cotton. And that’s why. It’s precisely other pesticides used, and that has harmful chemicals to the workers in the plantations, as well as our environment. Now they both consume, I think the same amount of water. In fact, maybe organic cotton consumes more water so it becomes a little bit of a balance between the pesticides use versus the water use. That is precisely why conventional cotton is, is worse for the environment and, and then worse for, for us as well.
Jennifer Chua: Your socks, for example, have some really interesting features. The fact that you can mix and match them. If you lose a sock, you’re not throwing out the other one. You can just use that with another pair and then the comfort of course, but what was the most important to you? Was it this mix-match ability, the social good or the sustainable materials? Which one did you focus on first?
Melita Cyril: The sustainable materials that would say, because that was like the driver and the, the gentleness of the materials, because that was obviously the driver to make sure that it was something , my son can wear all day, every day, not have a reaction and not worry about the chemicals in there. So that was like the primary focus. But. I wouldn’t say I’m a true perfectionist, but I really wanted to get something that’s, not just for kids with sensitive skin, something that is functional practical. It really comes down to performance of everything, like, just because you buy something for your sensitive skin doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on the grips for example, or the fun aspect off the socks.
So of course, like starting off and even now we’re still limited in terms of how many designs and how many fun designs we can launch. So we have our customers always say, or do you have something with rainbows or unicorns? And I was like, I would love to keep doing it, but it is, it is hard for me with the minimums to always launch new styles without three pairs, nine possibilities concept like you highlighted.
So that was like the challenge of the beginning. Of course, every little one has different needs. So we have a pure collection, which has actually no dyes whatsoever. There’s no patterns because it has no dyes. It comes in the natural colors of cotton, but it’s more suitable for sensitive skin. We have more fun mix and match patterns, which, to be honest, has the same composition of the original composition. So it’s good for sensitive skin, but some kids just don’t like, lose thread, which is a common function of having more patterns, for example. There’s no one size fits all on one pattern or type design fits all, but we’re trying to cater to different needs. For us right now, it’s creating a healthy product that’s also functional and meets the needs of, the majority of our consumers.
Jennifer Chua: Can you speak a little bit more to the pairs of socks that you receive and how you can mix them together?
Melita Cyril: So you actually get three pairs and we say nine possibilities, cause you could mix and match because they follow the same theme. So for example, if you go on our website, you’ll see like a hot air balloon theme or inside a robot, which has got the different robot components.
So it follows the same themes, but, and the colors, but they’re different pairs. It’s a unique pair in itself, so you can match it. Or if you feel like it, you can mismatch it. Or given the sock problems we have in our own home of like socks, just kind of. Disappearing or just like you losing a pair of one day and finding it the next day you can wear it, mix matched for functionality and this way,if you would inclined to throw your socks or not use it. You can still use it. And so that prevents that ending up in the landfill or just lying in your drawer unworn. So it is a little bit more sustainable as well.
Jennifer Chua: When you were looking at manufacturing overseas in several different countries or sourcing from several different countries, what kind of costs did you learn about like associated with the environmental impact of manufacturing and sourcing from overseas?
Melita Cyril: Going back to looking to manufacture the socks, first of all, I would say I look for a local manufacturer and unfortunately almost all the Canadian sock manufacturers have either shut down and moved overseas especially in kids and baby cause it’s requires special tooling. And it was impossible to find somebody locally. I wanted to find somebody locally just so that I could manage the quality control of the first product and design. So very quickly I had to look set my eyes on overseas manufacturing. I’d never manufactured a product before, but I assumed, okay Google is my best friend here. Let’s see what I can find out about sock manufacturing. I looked at different countries, including China. And then I also found a manufacturer in Sri Lanka. So I probably got samples and quotes from about three manufacturers.
Sri Lanka was sort of in the middle, I would say. But they also had the best quality. When it comes to the types of manufacturers, I look for. I had done my research on chemicals. And what certifications did they have that wouldmake me feel secure, that this product is going to be free from harmful chemicals, not only for my kids, but also for the environment. And so I looked for certifications like the OEKOTX100 certification and the GOTS certification. I wasn’t certified as a brand at the time that came last, last year. But at least I could source from GOTS certified facilities. And so it Sri Lanka was part of that.
I wanted to highlight something as part of your question because of course your podcast, I think has a brilliant name cost of goods sold. And this is exactly the challenge I find, being a business owner, Trying to create the best possible product. But it ends up being at a much higher cost than, an alternative. I wouldn’t even say competition because it’s not the same product. It’s more of an alternative, right. I have an undergraduate degree in economics and I won’t get into. Too much of the jargon. But I, I will try to explain this. You might understand the concept of this demand and supply curve intersecting in order to get to the free market price of, of something it’s called lean equilibrium. What happens if the demand curve or the supply curve is not accurate? It does not truly take into account. As far as the supply curve is concerned, the true cost of something. For the demand curve. You’ve got to look at it from a benefit perspective. So if the demand curve does not take into account, the true benefit of something. Or the supply curve does not take into account the true cost of something. You get the wrong price by society.
There is something called Externalities, which occurs when the full true cost or benefit of a market is not reflected in the market economics of it. So what that leads to is a wrong price. From a negative externalities perspective is the wrong price and overproduction.
And this is exactly the problem with fast fashion. It’s the same problem that we have with pollution. It’s the same concept. So with the supply curve for fashion in generalizing the market a little bit, I should just say for socks, if the cost doesn’t incorporate the social cost of the workers who have to produce were exposed to these pesticides and chemicals. If it doesn’t take into account the environmental costs off these pesticides and chemicals, then you’re going to get a lower price for the wrong price. And if you’re looking to source that that takes into account all of this, the sourcing price is going to be higher. And, and so that, that is exactly why if we pay attention to all this, we have to source at a higher cost and the price ends up being higher for a consumer. By buying a product, you are making sure you are paying the true cost of the product and not a lower cost where somebody else or even your own children end up paying the price for it.
It’s a hard concept to get your head around, but it’s simple because, and that’s exactly why. It’s almost impossible for us to compete while still uphold ourselves to the same standards as other companies. And we have to do a little bit more on educating why our products are better for you and the environment. And you’re actually paying the true costs and not, it’s not ending up in my bottom line.
Jennifer Chua: one of the messagings that seems to be clicking more with conscious consumers is the cost per use. Whereas, if you get a pair of socks and one of them gets a hole in it or gets destroyed because we have children absolutely destroyed or lost in the wash. You have that opportunity to mix and match, but one of them isn’t larger than the other. They’re going to be the same size. One of them isn’t higher than the other. Like they’re going to be the same level of comfort on both feet.
Melita Cyril: exactly.
Jennifer Chua: Sometimes if you look at the cost per use or investigate how long you’ll be using something or how many times we’ll be using something. In that case, it seems to make more sense.
Melita Cyril: No, absolutely I pay attention to all our views coming in, all the feedback, all the emails from our customers, good and, sometimes feedback for improvement as well. And one thing I am noticing now is a lot of people are saying they’re passing on their socks to siblings. I would do this with my kids. Like my daughter. Is only wearing my my son socks, which is the reason why we also make them gender neutral, so they could be passed on to siblings with boy or girl.
I’m glad you brought this up because it’s also a better quality product and a product that’s going to be used many times, which will end up saving you money and also costing the environment less because. The fashion industry is so dirty and over consumption is a big problem. And it’s a big cause for pollution. And, and so by being able to reuse the socks, because its in the same good quality as a brand new pair. We pay very close attention to a quality, so there’s less fading and it still fits the same. And the holes are not developing and of course you have some bad apples, very, very small percentage, but overall, your product quality is good and you pass it on to siblings or cousins or donate it. Somebody somewhere can use them as opposed to it being in the landfill. That’s a good reason to buy, and I think we need to do a better job as a brand to really kind of communicate that cost per use. It’s something that you can pass on to younger children and or donate. So it doesn’t end up in the landfill.
Jennifer Chua: And they’re not like, the multipack that you’re buying from a big box store that I’ve always found either the elastic, wears out at the top very, very quickly, or the holes come very, very quickly. And those do end up tossed. Like you do have that quality in your product for sure. And I commend you for that, obviously. So when you were building the business, what was your big dream in those days?
Melita Cyril: I was very passionate about the product, so it was just seeing my product in the hands of as many little kids as possible. That is like the goal, but I would also say one part, which I haven’t really mentioned as part of this conversation up until now is our give back initiative. We actually give back through an incredible organization called Mary’s meals. So for every pair of socks that we sell, and now we have underwear, pajamas, but for every product that’s sold, we donate school meals to one of the world’s poorest children. For me, that’s really the dream and what’s driving my business. Sure. I can go out and donate myself and encourage others to donate, but I feel like I’m achieving like Goals that are beyond myself. So, I’m helping, little kids who have scent sensitive skin or refuse their socks because of the seam across the toe. So I’m helping moms and their kids, but I’m also helping feed children in a place of education. They’re also going to school more because of the little things that we do. Now we’re making a small impact, but for me personally, that’s what drives me because as you know, Jennifer the small business world is hard. You need something to motivate you. And this is our motivation creating products that solve problems for our consumers, but also helping these children.
I grew up in Sri Lanka. I was a bit more exposed to poverty than my kids will probably ever be. And there’s some kids there who don’t even have a meal a day. It’s very sad, but I always wondered, like I always felt grateful to be born to the parents that I was born to. And, I am grateful to be in this position. And I feel like I got lucky and, and I could well have been born to a family without means, and I could have been one of those children or my children could be one of those children. So I feel incredibly grateful to be in this position and to have obtained a world-class education and be given the opportunities I was given. And I feel like these kids just need opportunity. They need to be able to go to school. They need to eat. And that’s what Mary’s meals is solving. I was very glad to have come across Mary’s meals because something very high cents to the dollar goes to direct charitable activities. As, as of right now, we’re not position where we’re funding projects, so we know exactly where the money went, but I have the confidence that it’s reaching these kids. So incredible, incredible organization. I’m so grateful to be able to give back.
Jennifer Chua: Your childhood in Sri Lanka, is there a moment in your life where you realize that you want to create change?
Melita Cyril: I think it was my 13th birthday andI went to an orphanage and I’d been visiting them quite a bit. And I decided that time to celebrate my birthday there. So I took cake to them. And I saw the, the pure joy in some of these kids’ faces and it just made me so, so happy that in the back of my mind, like I still remember that moment. So. Even when I started Q for Quinn, I knew I wanted to give back or do my part in some way. Cause I knew that’s what’s going to drive me in the end and I just couldn’t figure out what that would be because one of the things I also struggle with is just having that transparency of where the dollar is going and the best way to have the most impact.
That feeling in that moment and that gratification from the joy that, just giving cake to these kids and they still had access to food. And I could just can’t imagine those kids who don’t even have access to the food. So, I think that changed me in that sort of made me realize that I need to do something that’s what’s going to drive me when, when things get really hard. And it’s challenging being a business owner. It’s a lot of sacrifices, but just knowing that. Well, for every product that I sell, I’m actually making it back in a way that I’m feeding these kids. It just makes it so much more meaningful and drives me even more.
Jennifer Chua: So once you started Q for Quinn, can you remember a moment that you were just really proud and why were you proud by that moment?
Melita Cyril: I would say there’s been moments where I’ve been really proud. The proud moments have been like reading my books to kids and seeing the kids read them on their own. That makes sense, really happy. Just kind of, kind of seeing that. But as I said before, like just counting the meals every month that we’re able to donate. That makes me happy and it keeps growing. So that makes me proud and happy.
Jennifer Chua: can you tell me about a moment when you looked around at Q for Quinn, what you have built and you said, Hey, this is going to work. Or people are interested in this concept.
Melita Cyril: I would say maybe sometime last year in the fall , when things started really picking up I would say yes, that is, but I would also say that I’m still, some days are a struggle.It’s not always like, we were still growing and figuring out where to put ourselves forward to like from a marketing perspective. So I still have failures a lot. And so sometimes those failures make me question, am I doing something that people want, right. And if that’s the case, why aren’t they all lining up to buy? But, and that’s what, giving back through the school meals really helps me because I’m saying, you know what. Whatever happens. I can feel proud that I I’ve been able to donate these school meals through that, and then buildings an organization or a company that it’s is built on those values. And at some point people are going to start to recognize it on a larger scale I hope. It’s not just that I want them to recognize it, I think as long as see that positive change, that we’ve started to see more recently with a more conscious consumer, I would love that to keep continuing, because I think we all, as a society have a lot to do to make better choices in what we consume and how we consume.
I still don’t feel so confident from a business perspective. It Is hard, I would say. And it’s hard to like, like I mentioned before sometimes I feel like I have to really justify the price of our products and it’s not even a huge purchase in the grand scheme of things, in the sense that, our socks costs three pair pack cost $27. You could share the sizes as with siblings you could use for well over a year. And I feel like it’s sometimes still a struggle because. I get still sometimes get these complaint complaints of like, why is it so expensive or, and shipping is another reason for years is like, I won’t pay close to $10 for shipping. And I get that, I’m hesitant as a consumer to pay, but as a small business, we don’t have a lot of negotiating power. Until we get to scale, we just won’t be able to reduce our shipping costs and every year it just keeps going up. I always say, there’s no easier time to start a business. But it’s becoming very, very difficult to sustain a business these days.
Jennifer Chua: Is there anything else as consumers or business owners that we should take into consideration when we talk about those costs, is there anything else we should be thinking about that we’re not thinking about?
Melita Cyril: I wouldn’t say that there’s anything else that you’re not thinking about in terms of raising awareness of why, buying a most sustainable product is better or why it’s priced the way it is. Of course, like when I explained the whole externalities issues, like, I don’t think people understand it the same way. But they are starting to understand like the cost to humanity or the people making the clothes, just knowing where the clothes are coming from and who’s made them whether this amount of water or this amount of pollution was caused by the result of turning the plants into fabric and all of that.
I think it’s continuing to educate and whenever we see comments, public comments just, yeah being as transparent as possible and also taking the time to educate and write.
We do a fair bit of Facebook advertising and so we get these comments and I always go in there and I explain to somebody and I see other brands doing that as well. So I think the more brands continue to do that, and people see that consistent message. They. They start to understand, and we’re already seeing that shift, which is encouraging.
I think this is where like government and governments and standards play a role. We talked about b Corp before the Before the interview and, and having more standards like that and also having access to be certified. Hopefully those standards are able to advertise and put themselves in front of the end consumer so that those consumers can look for these standards in these brands, and that’s how they can differentiate between A brand that’s trying to do good by our society and by our environment and those that are not. This is not just the role of brands, but also the standards of the brand. So I think all parties that play have to play a role. It is a challenge and I think everybody has the role to play the consumer, the brand, and also the standards and even our government, to be honest, too.
For example, with Azo dyes, which have been known to have carcinogenic materials they’re banned in the EU, but they’re still allowed in the USA and Canada. And so. So I think our government also has a role to play in all this
I just wanted to say that I’m encouraged, like part of what you’re doing, Jennifer, is educating the customer with this podcast or consumer with this podcast. So I’m grateful for people like yourself, who are playing the role to bring in more awareness to what’s in our clothing, what’s in our products. And not only what’s in them, but how it’s made, how the workers who are making it are treated. And so that we can start living with our decisions now that we know we can start making the right decisions and also being happy with the decisions we make and feel good about it. And not only for ourselves, but for our children.
Jennifer Chua: If you want to learn more about Melita and her certified organic mismatch, double socks, visit Q four quinn.com. Looking to buy a pair through Mary’s meals and the one pair, one meal initiative. Melita has donated 28,000 meals. You can follow along with Melita on her mission to create comfortable and practical basics which are gentle for your skin and for the planet. On facebook at qforquinnshop or instagram at q.for.Quinn.