Ok e hoa mā, lets talk about pūtea
It's this currency we use everyday, but very rarely stop to critically think about.
We were scrolling through insta earlier and happened across a cool Aotearoa based sustainability focused business having a flash X% off sale.
'Score!!!' We thought, as our conditioning has taught us to.
But we didn't have to look too far before a trend emerged below that post. 'I saved up and purchased these just yesterday, and I now they're on sale! 😭'.
Starting a business without a business background, and a strong social justice bent, has had us make some unconventional choices about how we approach business, purpose and pūtea.
Our approach is an exploration of how our values and worldview could look like in practice, and is informed by our understanding and interpretation of whakaaro and mātauranga Māori.
Milton Friedman, the University of Chicago economist who is the doctrine’s most revered figure, famously wrote in The New York Times in 1970 that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.”.
The phrase that is traditionally used is "Maximising shareholder value", which basically means continuously growing profit. Continuously growing the company at all costs- environmental, human, producers, consumers etc. Profit is the goal.
It doesn't take much reflection to see that this approach is at odds with an approach born of mātauranga Māori. Of a worldview that values sustainability, stewardship, kaitiakitanga, whanau, whakapapa, interconnectedness and relationship. Of prioritizing collective wellbeing. Of people and environment over profit.
In exploring what our values could like in practice, we've sought out a collective in India who share our kaupapa- and values. We pay them a fair wage that can ensure a sustainable future. It's not cheap. But neither is our value for them and the values they uphold.
When our products arrive in Aotearoa, we sell them directly to you. This allows us to keep our prices as low and as fair as possible. We don't have to add the margins of a retail environment.
We believe that accessibility and affordability is important.
We don't offer Laybuy or After pay type services, because we don't believe that these finance models or businesses have much other than profit and exploitation at their core.
While it doesn't cost a standard consumer to use these services, it means that sellers have to build in the cost of the service into their products- pushing prices up for everyone.
The majority of their profits however come from enabling consumers who cannot afford a product to buy it anyway (YOLO/FOMO) - and figure it out later (or find themselves sinking in penalties). For us, this doesn't feel like a socially ethical way to operate- or an environmentally sustainable one.
We respect You and your hard earned putea, and that how you chose to spend it is important.
So think about it, sleep on it, save up for it.
We'll be here, with the same price, this week, next week, next month.