· By Tarleton Walmsley
Each year, as we begin to set new goals for ourselves as a business, I also like to look at our numbers to see how we're doing as a business with achieving our equity goals. In case you missed it, we operate under a set of initiatives first set forth by Danielle Adams of Hemp Equity NC for businesses in the CBD/cannabis space to adhere to. We use them as a standard for holding ourselves accountable as white business owners in the CBD/cannabis industry. As such, Garden Party is committed to the following:
-Hiring individuals regardless of criminal record.
-Offering livable wages to our employees as we grow.
-Actively and continually sharing a portion of our profits to communities negatively affected by the war on drugs.
-Striving to work with vendors that abide by fair labor practices.
-At least 15% of the goods we sell will be procured from businesses owned by people of color.
Just as we did last year around this time, I'd like to break down a few of our numbers to share with you as we continue our efforts to operate our business with equity in mind. We are still faced with certain barriers given the size and scale of our business, and I think it's important to remain transparent about where we're at.
First, we remain committed to fair and transparent hiring practices as much as possible. This means when we begin the hiring process, we do not look at or ask anyone to provide things like criminal records as a means by which to judge someone's worthiness and capabilities. We welcome ALL to apply, and ALL are welcome inside our business. We also strive to work with other vendors and businesses who share similar values. That means we aim to work with others that are also practicing fair labor standards, care about quality of product, and are transparent about their own business practices.
According to JustEconomics, the current Living Wage Rate for Buncombe County is $17.70/hour with or without health benefits. Currently, our Sales Position starting salary is set at $17/hour, up $2 from this time last year. That feels like an achievement in and of itself, but Seth and I do not currently pay ourselves a living wage (as is typical for small businesses like ours). As we continue to grow and expand, this is one of our priorities that I hope can be achieved by year 5.
In 2021, we donated approximately $1,219 to non-profits and mutual aid funds. This makes up 1.38% of our gross profits. In last year's breakdowns, I had set a goal of us reaching 5% in 2021, which in hindsight feels lofty considering these numbers are down from what they were last year. I don't think we could've anticipated the ongoing effects of Covid-19, in addition to the regular challenges small businesses like our face. Access to capital and tight cash flow found us having to keep a much stricter budget than the previous year. But we're really grateful that we were able to contribute what we could in 2021. We also remain committed to our membership in the Floret Coalition, which collectively raises over $10k each month to an organization of the Floret board's choosing. It's been a great way not only to connect with new organizations I might not have otherwise known about, but also provides a means by which I know we are donating a minimum of $50 each month no matter what.
Finally, as of this writing, 18.84% of our inventory offerings include products from BIPOC-owned businesses. In addition to that, 66% of our offerings are from woman-owned businesses. There are several factors I keep top of mind when we choose to work with a new vendor. Things like quality and aesthetics are important to me, but it's equally important for us to carry BIPOC-owned brands and businesses. Supporting Black and Brown owned businesses means the likelihood for things like generational wealth, successful entrepreneurship, property ownership, and credit building are shared, community-building opportunities.
So now that we've gone through the numbers, I have a simple ask and it's this: Keep Garden Partying with us. Your continued support of our business means that we can reach our goals and one day, perhaps we'll even surpass them. I often struggle to articulate this, and I hope I do it well enough here--I do acknowledge that we're working within a capitalist society that isn't going away anytime soon. It's true that we want customers to shop with us so that we can pay our bills and keep the lights on. And yes, I'll admit that I would love to achieve financial stability through this venture at some point. But we also want you to keep shopping with us because I think there are ways to operate within this unjust, capitalist system that challenge us to rethink how we assume things are supposed to be so that we can embrace how things can eventually become. Adhering to this set of standards, profit sharing, continuing to have conversations about the negative impact the War on Drugs has had for Black and Brown communities are simply the bare minimum, non-negotiable standard we commit to. While our impact sometimes feels like a ripple effect, I'm hoping that with your help we can start making some waves.
All images by Paula Codoñer for Broccoli Magazine.