Kriti Jain from 5TKT started her business 6.5 months ago striving to be sustainable and holistic in business. Discover her journey, and her call for working together to create change.

I bought the domain name for 5TKT in 2013. I had no idea what my business was going to be. I only knew what it was called. And paying the first $10 to buy the domain name was the only business investment I could make with confidence.

Years passed by and I went on from living by myself in the city of Ahmedabad, India to moving to this far edge of the world with my husband. I worked for a year and a half in the NZ fashion industry and finally, after understanding the kiwi market, I knew exactly how I was going to save the planet.

I will introduce this part of the world to mine. I will support handmade and will bring the most beautiful organic cotton and tie-dye dresses to NZ. I will make everyone forget that malls with their fast fashion stores even exist. Challenge accepted!

I launched my business in March this year and 6.5 months in, I have learned that – Boy! Was I wrong! Not about the business itself, but about how to run one. How to prepare for one and what to expect. I am still learning all of that, but at least I am 6 months ahead in the game and I thought why not share a few of these lessons with those of you who are still dreaming and scheming.

Starting a sustainable business 101:

• Start with the Civil don’t make it a world war yet:
As an environmentally conscious human, you are probably aware that the whole system is broken. Every aspect of our current existence is a carbon footprint disaster. From the food we eat, clothes we wear, homes we live in and the cars we drive. But we cannot quit everything and suddenly become carbon neutral. Your business is similar. It can’t solve all of the world’s problems at once. But you can pick a battle and make sure you defeat that enemy. Don’t overwhelm yourself. I chose to start with supporting artisans and Fairtrade. That doesn’t mean sustainability isn’t on my radar. But for now, I am focused completely on one aspect of the problem and then will move to the second.

• Think of the little things:
Your business model may deal with just one issue, but your business itself can still strive to be holistic. I was so lost in making sure my inventory was as sustainable as possible, that when I ordered my business cards, I forgot to go an extra mile and get them printed on recycled paper. Think of how your business will use its resources. Will you recycle your office waste? Will you compost? How efficient is the office building? Did you switch the bulbs to LEDs? When it comes to running a business there will always be a greener option.

5tkt sustainable and ethical womens fashion
Chakra Dress from 5TKT is a handmade wonder giving employment opportunities to tie-dye artists. I would love it to be in Organic Cotton rather than just Cotton, but Hey! At least we started somewhere 🙂

• It’s all about the money:
Any business, even a not for profit business, needs to be able to make money to sustain itself and hence help its cause. And to make money you must know how to invest it, where to spend it and how much. When I started out, I spent most of my initial investment on inventory. Without realizing that I will need at least about 25% of it for marketing. You also need to plan ahead for your running costs. However small a business, there will always be regular running costs like monthly expense on a website, paying for Xero, FB Ads etc. Make sure you know in advance where that money will come from.

• Price Matters:
Working with a Fairtrade model is expensive. Since its done right, the end product tends to be more expensive than a similar product that doesn’t offer the same principles. When I started out I thought ‘Ah! My target customer knows better! They will buy what I have to offer.’ But that’s not helpful. If you are only trying to sell to those who do care, you aren’t really helping anyone, right? I mean you don’t need to sell me that Fairtrade chocolate because I am already your consumer. We need to spread the word and expand this tribe of conscious consumer. So while it’s the hardest part of the business, try and work on the pricing as much as possible. Find ways to reduce cost without compromising on your goals. Because a good price is the best way to attract new people and introduce them to the goodliness of well-made products.

• It’s a new kind of capitalism:
It’s not a dog eat dog world anymore. The new and fresh species of conscious capitalists need to work together to make this world a better place. If my neighborhood mall with 25 different fast fashion labels can flourish, then the 5 other sustainable business fashion brands in the city are not my competition. They are my allies. We need to team up and spread the word to a wider audience.  We have a common goal so why not set on this journey together?

planet earth first consciously living
PLANET EARTH DOES COME FIRST, even before our business. No? PHOTO CREDIT : Photo by Gem & Lauris [A Place for Creation] on Unsplash
This is but a tip of the iceberg. There are so many new experiences every day and I look forward to sharing them here.

What about you? How has your entrepreneurial journey been so far? Let us in on your story! Comment with a genius tip of your own. The school is in session! 😉

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About 5TKT
At 5TKT, every product tells a story.  These are the stories of the artisans and makers behind each and every one of our products. And this is what 5TKT is all about. We personally curate this range of handmade, ethically sourced women’s apparel, scarfs, jewelry and home accessories to promote an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. We want to share with you the joy of owning a product that not only makes good fashion sense but also tells you the true story behind it. Tells you about the people who worked so hard to make these products. A lot of people ask me what 5TKT means. Easy. TKT (or ticket) is a unit of measurement for sewing thread, something our tailors and seamstresses use every day. And 5 because it’s our favorite number, that’s what makes it fun!

 

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