Reflections on 2023 & Looking Forward to 2024

Reflections on 2023 & Looking Forward to 2024

As I write this blog post each year, I reflect on the past twelve months and look forward to the next twelve.  There are always good memories and hard ones, challenges we’ve overcome and opportunities we’ve grabbed hold of.  I have to be honest, 2023 has had a lot of challenges and some of them we haven’t yet overcome.  

To be honest, I don’t think a company ever overcomes the challenges of working in Haiti.  It just seems to come in waves.  And if we think it’s hard, we can’t really imagine what it’s like for our team there.  But we CAN empathize with them and keep providing empowering work that supports their families.  Right now, we focus on what we can do and lean into a new year with hope for change in that country.

Now to my 2023 resolutions - how did we do?  Here are my thoughts - please send me yours!

  1. Grow - Unfortunately, like a lot of small businesses, this one was a challenge this year.  While we gained many new clients and entered some new industry segments, we also saw a number of small businesses and local retailers close or pull way back on orders.  While not the growth we started the year planning for, we are grateful for new customers and the opportunity to keep growing in 2024.
  2. Support and Promote Fair Trade - We had a ton of fun doing this work this year.  I joined the board of directors of the Fair Trade Federation, we partnered with Fair Trade LA and Fair Trade Chicago.  We provided drawing and auction prizes to many organizations and attended a lot more trade shows and events to promote fair trade products.  One of our favorites was attending the Atlanta Gift Show as part of the Haiti Artisan Collective - SO fun to join together with other made in Haiti brands doing this same good work!  We look forward to continued partnerships in 2024 and beyond.
  3. Listen - Did you see our customer feedback and spotlight form we launched this summer?  If not, check it out!  We want to hear from you and we want to brag about you and your support for our team.  Thank you to everyone who has filled out a form so far - your pictures and comments are so fun and we have some product ideas based on your feedback!
  4. Stay Creative - Did you see the massive overhaul of our graphics collections published this fall along with trend reports?  If not, check it out.  Our creative team has been hard at work!  Their hard work brought hundreds of new graphics and two new eco-cotton blend colors (Forest and Earth arriving in December!).  And our partnerships with our suppliers has brought a VERY exciting announcement - read on!

So what do we have in store for 2024?  We’re excited and we hope you will be too!

  1. Grow! - We have to put this back on the list as our whole purpose is to create more jobs!  But growth also looks like refining roles on our team in the states to best support the needs and growth of our clients.  We are adding new roles, expanding workforce development programs and refining job descriptions so each team member is best equipped to provide excellent service throughout for every customer.  And we hope to sell more and more shirts too! 
  2. Set the Standard for Sustainability - Over the past 6 years, we’ve analyzed product annually to determine where we can continue to innovate and create more sustainable products.  This brought you a ton of recycled components likes zippers, drawcords and even fabrics.  Last year we were able to source labels from Starfish Project - they’re made from recycled polyester by a fair trade company - so cool.  In 2024 however, we’re making our biggest step forward in a decade by introducing CiCLO® Polyester into all of our triblend and fleece styles!  CiCLO®’s patented technology transforms synthetic fibers into biodegradable fibers that can be reabsorbed into the ecosystem.  In short, a GOEX triblend tee will now biodegrade at the end of its life as if it’s 100% natural fibers.  Why does this matter?  If you haven’t seen reports of giant piles of discarded clothing in landfills around the world, you will soon.  The increase in synthetic fibers has resulted in a problem even larger than plastic bottles in landfills.  A plastic bottle can be recycled into another recycled bottle 7 times but when it becomes a garment, it’s at the end of it’s life and it does not biodegrade in a landfill.  So, with this new technology, we are able to maintain the super soft triblend and snuggle fleeces that you love but with contents that you know are not polluting the environment forever when they reach the end of their lives (which we hope is many years away!)  And, the fibers that are inevitably released into the air during manufacturing are also biodegradable in ocean water as well as in the ground.  This is truly a huge step forward in textile manufacturing and we are incredibly proud to be at the forefront of launching this new fiber!
  3. Educate - Last year we had a goal to promote fair trade and we’ll keep doing that but we also want to provide opportunities for our community to learn more about topics relevant to our business!  So, watch for guest blog posts, virtual Q&A sessions, and more.  Topics will include Haiti, Sustainability (I’m sure you all have CiCLO questions already!), other Job Creation initiatives through GO Project (our parent organization), launching Apparel Collections in your store and more.  

Again, thank you to everyone who supported us this year - we can’t do anything without you!  

Cheers to 2024!