Trash Queen is an extremely small business, ran by two people (myself, Paige and my partner, Alison). We are both leftists with strong ethics and do what we can to make sure that our business reflects what we want to see in the world. All of our clothing is handmade to order or produced in extremely small batches to cut down on waste and ensure that our pieces are all going to homes that will love them rather than contributing to a landfill.
Trash Queen is organized more like a traditional fashion model and organized by yearly or bi-yearly collections, with the occasional single product release. We are not a fast fashion brand--our products are not driven by fleeting social media trends, we do not release new products daily or weekly, and we consider quality over quantity in terms of designs and releases. Designing via collections also allows us to stay true to our roots as an artist led brand--meaning most of these collections are conceptual, inspired by specific things that are meaningful to us. We hope that in keeping true to this we can make pieces that feel like wearable art, that you can relate to and delight in and incorporate into your personal style, instead of something that is temporary and disposable.
Our pricing structure differs from other traditional businesses--most businesses price their items based on the cost to make the item (labor + materials + any additional business expenses that might factor in), then multiply that price by 2 for wholesale pricing, and multiply it by 2 again for the retail price. We are less interested in being stocked by various boutiques or selling our products wholesale than we are in getting you a product at a price point that is actually accessible, while still giving workers a fair living wage for their labor. That means we forgo all the multiplying and just add the appropriate amount of profit to ensure we can pay ourselves fairly, have a small percentage that we can put back into the business to improve and make new products, and the rest of the cost of our products is all the cost to produce them. This might make us less competitive or attractive to stock at boutiques, but we're willing to make that sacrifice to make our prices accessible, especially since plus sized consumers are still so under-served and have so many limited choices in this area.
We support worker's rights heavily both within our own organization and externally. Currently and as we grow we strive to organize ourselves in a way where all of the worker's at our business are able to have a say in the running of the business and can share in the profit of the business. Because Trash Queen was created by a disabled person, we hope to have a heavy focus on the mental & physical well being of our workers that many businesses do not--that includes unlimited sick leave, flexible work hours, and accommodations for those with disabilities. We promote an internal environment where everyone's voice can truly be heard and have an open culture of communication.
Any external production partners (on all levels--from garment production, printers, suppliers, even to anyone externally who might help us on programming issues) we work with are heavily vetted beforehand, ensuring that their workers are paid fair living wages, and that all ethical and safety regulations are being followed. We make a point to work with other small businesses (following SBA guidelines), so we can support other businesses like us vs. large corporations. The only exception to this would be us buying stock from larger US based manufacturers, often to upcycle unwanted pieces about to be discarded/thrown away into something new and desired. Any larger manufacturers we work with are WRAP & SGS certified and follow FLA guidelines in their workplaces, pay fair wages for the area they work in, and follow all ethical and safety standards for the specific work they're doing as well. Any non-US manufacturing operations that we work with participate in external 3rd party auditing to make sure their operations are up to code, and we make sure to research local laws and living wage data from activists in those areas to make sure we're knowledgeable on what that actually means as well. We do not work with sweatshops and make sure to see footage of actual daily working conditions before deciding to work with a business. We also partner with other local small businesses for work on occasion for services like small batch run screenprinting, sublimation printing, printing of our packaging, and embroidery services to help boost our local economy and keep other small businesses open in our own community. So far we've worked with partners for all sorts of projects all over the world, in Hong Kong, the UK, Vietnam, and several different locations in the United States, and we're always looking for new places to partner with that meet our ethical standards, as well as looking into methods that are sustainable, and that can make our business more eco-friendly.
We do pretty extensive, real world wear testing of our products to make sure that they're pieces that can last--we all know the most sustainable piece of clothing is something you can wear again and again. By focusing less on trends and trying to design pieces that are great to layer and transition through multiple seasons fairly effortlessly, we hope to make pieces that are quality and that you can wear year round to all sorts of different occasions.
Our business is currently ran out of our home (we do not use any 3rd party warehouses or have a separate office space) so our footprint is very small compared to most operations, and we also don't deal in super high volumes at our current size either which helps keep our impact on the environment minimal. We reuse & recycle any materials we can and are planning to offset emissions to be completely carbon neutral by 2023.
Like mentioned above, all of our garments are either handmade to order or produced in small runs (think 10-20 pieces at a time) to avoid creating more waste, which is one of the fashion industry's biggest issues.
Unlike many other companies who destroy their returns, we also launder all of our returns and put them into future lucky bag sales, which are an initiative we have to help give more folks access to items at a discounted rate and help garments get into the hands of people who truly want them versus letting them end up in a landfill somewhere.
We make a strong point to not engage in unethical marketing scare tactics that are used to manipulate consumers. Part of this is keeping our items made to order, avoiding using artificial scarcity as a means of pushing customers into purchasing, especially as we hope to push for us all to be living in a post scarcity world where there is enough to go around. We also strive to be very transparent with our pricing and any price changes ahead of time, mainly adjusting for changes in cost of product or things in the market we have no control over (such as shipping cost increases) and letting our consumers know when changes are happening and why.
We refuse to engage in any marketing or advertising that encourages poor self image, and will only do minimal beauty retouching for any of our photos--the only time we would photoshop something out is if is something we would have been able to fix in person (a stray fleck of mascara, a loose thread, scuff on a shoe etc) and missed until reviewing the images later in post. All other editing to our photos is just color correction.
We want to emphasize the beauty of all people, and show our customers an accurate a preview as possible of how our pieces will look in person, so we use a diverse array of models and show our garments on as many different sizes as we can financially afford to at a given photoshoot.
When we think of the concept of size inclusivity, we feel like even the "best" businesses in the industry could be doing more...but that also includes us. We would like size inclusivity to be seen as less of an end goal that is reachable as soon as a brand hits a certain arbitrary number of sizes, and more of a pledge for businesses to be constantly incorporating new sizes and new sizing concerns, that includes not just a wide range of sizing but the option of custom sizing for as many pieces as possible, and also considers the unique needs of not just plus sized individuals but trans people, disabled people, tall and petite people, and even sensory needs. We want to expand in all areas, and have consistently been expanding the sizing on various products we sell since we've started the business, adding new sizes to products as soon as it's possible for us to do so. So if there's ever an item you can't find in your size currently don't think that that is a permanent issue--we are always extending our size range and have an ultimate goal of meeting as many needs as possible, with affordable custom sizing for pieces being one of our ultimate goals. I hope that as we grow as a business we're able to make these additions much more quickly, and it's something we're constantly putting our resources to.
Because Trash Queen is ran by two people who embody a lot the things that the fashion industry tends to ignore (Paige is a plus sized, disabled nonbinary person and Alison is a trans woman) we also have a keen interest in giving back to our community whenever possible. That includes representing a diverse array of people in our models and brand ambassadors that reflects the diversity of our actual customer base, and also donating to the community whenever we can, through direct mutual aid efforts with the gofundme's of disabled/trans/BIPOC in need and through support of activist organizations defending our rights or seeking to abolish oppressive power structures affecting our communities whenever possible. We announce these efforts publicly on our social media pages whenever a portion of our profits are going to such organizations so that we can boost them further to anyone else who might be able to lend their support as well!Trash Queen is still a very small business (conceptualized and created in 2014, and officially becoming a full time venture for the owner in September of 2020) and we're learning and expanding a lot as we grow--more will be added to this page over time as we do more to organize as an official business and as we work towards getting certified as an official B corp and seek other official ethical certification! (A lot of which costs money and requires official documentation--keep that in mind when looking at small businesses! Even getting certified for these things requires a certain modicum of privilege that a lot of micro businesses might not have access to!) We're artist ran and not business majors so we are just doing our best out here to do our due diligence, so you can expect this page to grow as we do!