SupplyCompass recently spoke to Farah Cohen, COO of Everpress, a global marketplace built to make the power of independent creativity come to life in the easiest, most ethical way. At Everpress, you will find a curated emporium of original print designs with the tools to help people promote, sell, manufacture and distribute their own creations with no risk and no waste; a genuine alternative to the tyranny and wastefulness of conventional retail.
In Conversation With is SupplyCompass’ latest interview series, highlighting fashion and homeware brands from around the globe who are balancing people, profit and planet, and are leading the way when it comes to responsible business.
What makes Everpress unique?
We have a simple mission: to support grassroots creators and reduce the waste in fashion. We set out to build something special that challenges the status quo. Something that would provide value to the creative community with ethics and integrity, not just for consumers, but also our team.
You can come to Everpress for unique designs and put your money in the pocket of the people who need it most. Our strengths lie in a strong community which includes both independent artists and consumers who are aligned with our mission, and who agree that there is a better way to get things made.
What does sustainability mean for Everpress?
Our goal is to do everything in our power to always keep moving towards our 2025 sustainability milestone – to be climate and water neutral by 2025. We still have a long way to go in our sustainability journey, but we feel proud that sustainability is a key part of our main roadmap. Our pre-order business model already allowed us to reduce waste by 7,624 metric tons and save up to 143 million litres of water to date, so we know we’re off to a good start.
We believe traditional retail is broken. If the industry doesn’t change soon, we will have even more mountains of waste, fewer choices, less originality, and only lower quality. In order to shape our collective futures in the best way possible, Everpress is embarking on a sustainability journey that aligns with our mission to support grassroots creators and reduce waste in fashion.
Beyond environmental sustainability, we also have a strong commitment towards our workers and community. We believe in the triple bottom line approach: putting people, planet and profit on a level of importance. To formalise this we’re aiming to be B Corp certified by the end of 2022.
What role does technology play in your business?
Technology is everything – Everpress has both an online function (the platform and marketplace) and an offline production network (our supply chain). We are focusing on using technology to improve the relationship between these online and offline functions. In doing so, we aim to drive efficiencies that result in a better user experience for our community, and a smaller footprint on the planet through a technically optimised supply chain.
As an example, we’re focusing heavily on improving our platform, driven by our incredible product and tech team, using live sales and behavioural analytics to allow our creators to self-serve more. We want them to be able to seamlessly use Everpress to achieve their goals, in the most efficient way possible. That means clear sales analytics, clear and transparent profit breakdowns, and a seamless design process.
From a supply chain perspective, we’re leveraging data to select the right fulfilment partners that align with our mission, while working on our own API and automation software to reduce friction between key suppliers.
In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, what has the impact been for Everpress? What have you done to adapt?
From a production standpoint, we’ve held up reasonably well. For the past few weeks, the entire team has been rallying and pulling out all stops to make sure we can continue to do so. Our production team especially have been superstars – their proactive thinking has ensured that we were still able to fulfil all orders even as our total capacity was reduced by 70%. This required a lot of creative thinking; onboarding new supply partners and exceptional stock-planning to ensure our bases were covered.
From a community perspective, we have had a really positive few weeks. We pride ourselves on providing a valuable source of income for independent creatives and now, as many find themselves out of work, or struggling to find work, we’ve been able to work with them more closely than ever to help them stay afloat. It’s amazing to see our mission to support grassroots creators in action at a time like this.
In a general sense, our team has been amazing at adapting themselves to this new situation. We have flexible working including working from home Wednesday’s since last summer, we always use Slack, and have been super users of Hangouts, so the adjustment to the change in work has been easy and everyone has adapted well. The team is very proactive and self-sufficient and we’ve implemented some new ways to keep connected—weekly All Hands, virtual beers every Friday, etc—and we’re just trying really hard to over-communicate things.
Tell us more about the Everpress customer. How did you build a community around your brand?
We would be reluctant to try and pigeonhole the Everpress customer into any one persona. We work with artists, designers, charities, content creators, record labels, DJs, photographers, writers, poets, online communities and filmmakers… and our customers reflect that broad mix.
What we do know though is that, in general, our customers are super-savvy. They value straight-talking, and they value the feeling they get when they buy something that’s made with care by a real person. They’re sick of buying the same-old-stuff from high street brands and they agree that there is a better way to get things made.
Our community building efforts have been built around our mission – to support grassroots creators and reduce waste in fashion. Every decision we make, be it branding, on social media or in production, aims to support and reflect this mission. What we’ve found is that there is a growing mass of people on this planet who also align themselves with this mission. With this in mind, we strongly believe that if we stay consistent, our community will continue to naturally grow.
Everpress supports many creatives, tell us about some of the ways you have adapted to support the creative industry during this challenging time.
We’ve not really needed to adapt anything – our mission, which we’ve been working towards for years now, is to support grassroots creators and reduce the waste in fashion. What we’ve seen in the past few weeks is all of this hard work now having a real impact. As creatives have found themselves struggling for work or income streams, it’s been refreshing (albeit tinged with a hint of sadness given the circumstances) to see that we’re regularly put forward as a viable option alongside a core group of platforms.
We have, however, implemented a new social media content series called Community Broadcast – here we hand our social media channels over to our community, and let them do whatever it is they want to do. They have a space, and an audience, with which to promote other projects, their t-shirt designs, or simply to talk with other creators. It’s been a breath of fresh air to see such candid activity on our channels at a time like this.
What are some of the positives you’ve seen come from the Everpress community?
We’ve seen an incredible amount of donation-based campaigns pop-up on our platform in recent weeks. This includes campaigns in support of the NHS, or campaigns designed to support freelancers in need; there really are too many to highlight in one go. But to see these overwhelmingly proactive and positive initiatives launched by our community at a time like this puts a smile on your face. We need to be clear though, it doesn’t surprise us for a second. We work closely with these creators daily, and we know the calibre of humans we’re dealing with.
What are your aspirations for the future of Everpress? What are you most excited about?
I’m really excited for the next few years. A big focus is on us becoming more sustainable. The pre-order model puts us in a really good place, but there’s so much more we can be doing. We’ve learned a lot about what makes the perfect blank tee, so we thought why not make our own? Our range of tees will use 100% organic cotton and comply to the strictest ethical and environmental standards. They’ll also be a great good fit and the perfect weight for printing. All things going to plan, they’ll be available in the autumn.
As mentioned, we plan on being a fully credited B-Corp company by 2022. This is a fancy way of saying that we will be held to super strict standards by an independent body, making sure we give equal importance to our workers, our customers, our suppliers, our community, and the environment. Some of our favourite companies like Patagonia have this accreditation.
We’re also planning an artist development program that will provide help and support to graduates in the creative world in the form of funding, studio space and mentorships. Another big milestone for us is the implementation of a recycle-return policy – where every Everpress purchase will be backed by the option to return your t-shirt for a discount on future purchases. All returned tees will be recycled or upcycled.