This Black Friday, as other retailers trip over themselves to offer the cheapest products to frenzied mobs, the online clothing company Everlane is taking a different approach. Nothing will be on sale–the clothes will sell for what the company considers a fair value–and all of the profits will go directly to help the workers who sew T-shirts in the company’s L.A. factory.
“This is an opportunity to help people on Black Friday,” says founder and CEO Michael Preysman. “The other piece of it is just to reflect on what it means to be consuming and buying gifts for people when there are others in the world that can benefit from our help. This is our way of finding balance in those two things.”
Everlane used to opt out of Black Friday entirely, shutting down the website for the day. “[Black Friday] is not transparent . … It’s retailers playing games with each other,” Preysman says.
Shutting down is the same tactic that REI is trying this year as it closes stores and asks customers to go outside instead of shopping. But Everlane realized that its closure might not have the intended effect. “People just go somewhere else,” Preysman says.
Their customers told them they still wanted to shop. “So instead of running sales, what we do now is donate our profits,” he says. “It’s a way for us to be open and available for our customers while I think reinforcing the values that we stand for.”
The company hopes to raise $100,000 through its Black Friday Fund to create a new wellness program for factory workers, offering on-site health care, free food, and English classes. For food, instead of offering free lunches like you might find at Google and recognizing that workers tend to bring lunches from home, they’ll offer free groceries instead.
In 2014, the first time they tested the Black Friday program, they raised money for the silk factory that they work with in Hangzhou, China, and bought solar panels for the workers’ on-campus apartments. “Every year, we come up with a different initiative and see how we can push the boundaries,” Preysman says.