Time for Change
I've been doing a lot of thinking behind the scenes of Head & Hands, planning for Autumn, Winter and into next year. And I can tell you it's set to be a time of transformation. I've got some lovely new suppliers in the pipeline that I can’t wait to share, an expanding conscious living section of the store and even my own range coming soon!
But most importantly, it feels like the right time to address certain aspects of the business that have been troubling me. Aspects that I honestly haven’t felt totally comfortable with for a long time. Worried about disappointing my loyal customers and what it might mean for the business, I neglected to listen to my gut. In this blog I will be explaining why I’ve taken the decision to stop stocking certain products in the Head & Hands store.
I’ve changed a lot over these last three years since opening. My experiences, my interests, and my values have shifted and naturally - I’ve been questioning if the store authentically represents me and my own beliefs anymore.
Thank you for taking the time to read and understand my decisions.
There’s lots of reasons that selling crystals doesn’t sit right with me, but I have often made the excuse that I would be disappointing my customers if I stopped. After my first year of trading, I found that customers kept asking after crystals, so I sought out a supplier and have been stocking them for almost 2 years.
But I can’t blame anyone else for my choices, least of all my customers. Making ethical and authentic decisions for my business is totally on me. And if I didn’t do it before, it’s definitely high time I look at it now. This post is not designed to shame anyone who buys crystals - it’s a personal decision and a stand that I choose to take.
You see, suppliers like mine can promise that their crystals are ethically sourced and mined. But unless I actively scrutinise each supplier’s own vague definition of ‘ethical’, travel to their source, witness the working conditions and check that the natural resource and workers aren’t being exploited - I just can’t be absolutely certain of their ethics or sustainability. The gemstone industry is mostly unregulated and there are few standards in place to ensure good practice - so the whole promise of an ethical and sustainable supply chain is based on mere words, and on trust with my supplier, and their supplier before them. This is not good enough for me.
Aside from the questionable ethics of supply, selling crystals always felt a little awkward to me personally. Unlike other people I know and respect, I’m truthfully no crystal expert and I’ve always said this openly to my customers. I’m something of a novice, I love how they look, make me feel, and I have my own treasured stones that I’ve collected since childhood. I also felt uncertain about stocking crystals because they didn’t really feel in line with the Head & Hands maker-led, mindful-living ethos.
Lately, crystals have become rather a big trend that I find mostly uncomfortable. There are the spiritualists making obscenely irresponsible claims about them, lots of vile fashion-y commoditization - from ‘crystal encrusted’ phone cases to ‘crystal-charged’ water bottles and soulless insta-beauty brands shoving crystals into cuticle oils, and lip balms. It’s all got a bit out of hand and it’s definitely not something I feel aligned with.
Crystals are for sure a precious gift from the earth and so they should be valued and respected. But our over-consumption and devaluing of these natural treasures is everything that’s wrong with the world right now. I don’t want to be part of that.
I still have some stones left in store, but once they have gone to good homes - I’ve decided that I won’t be restocking them. If you’ve ever bought a crystal from Head & Hands - I want to thank you so much for your support and custom and I have no doubt that you are taking good care of them. All I ask I is that you continue to cherish what you already have, perhaps even swap and share your crystals. And if you do buy more of them, question your supplier about their supply chain. There are hundreds of shops that continue to sell crystals, but just a tiny handful who are openly committed to ensuring an ethical supply chain and making it their mission to change the industry.
But, as stocking crystals doesn’t feel wholeheartedly aligned with me personally I’m afraid it’s time to close that chapter with Head & Hands.
If you’d like to read more about the sustainability of crystals and the trade surrounding it, take a look at a recent piece in the Guardian called Dark Crystals written for Guardian by Tess McLure.
Palo Santo & white sage
Palo Santo is a resin-rich wood, from the Bursera Graveolens tree often found in South America. It’s incense was one of my first and most popular products with my customers, who use it’s grounding woody aroma to fragrance their spaces and the smoke in rituals to clear stagnant energies.
Whilst I have used Palo Santo in the past, I feel it is now time for me to refrain from using it personally and stop stocking it at Head & Hands. The growing popularity of Palo Santo undoubtedly raises several questions of sustainability. I have spent the last few months trying to find answers to them, but have concluded that without visiting and speaking directly to the people harvesting the wood in Peru and thoroughly investigating the integrity of SERFOR the agricultural body of Forestry and Wildlife in Peru who regulates and certifies the trade - I am still without all the definitive answers I crave. The supplier I worked with has always been certified by SERFOR and adhered to their guidelines about how the wood is harvested, treated and exported. But looking beyond the certification, Palo Santo remains a complex matter within a wider picture of sustainable agriculture, political agendas, environmental politics and well, capitalism.
I had intended, after my research and interviews to write an extensive blog that helped myth-bust all the recent viral posts about Palo Santo. And while I can certainly bust the myth that it’s an illegal trade - it definitely isn’t - I can’t unequivocally state that it is a sustainable one. So without enough detail to inform my decision, I won’t be restocking it in store.
But more crucially, although my Palo Santo suppliers insist the growers are enthusiastic and reliant upon shipping the wood outside of its indigenous land - I don’t feel comfortable selling a natural resource that isn’t in abundance.
White Sage is a natural incense and traditionally used in Native American spiritual practices and rituals. It is also problematic, in terms of sustainability but more importantly, it’s cultural appropriation. To be clear, it’s not my aim to shame anyone who’s bought or used it without realising these issues, but it’s time for me personally to educate myself and do better and I’d like to encourage others to do the same. White Sage will no longer be restocked in store.
You can read more about why White Sage is problematic here on Huffington Post.
There are yet to be any independently published articles or studies on the sustainability of Palo Santo and while cultural appropriation around shamanism is being debated, I personally will not be restocking it.
Thanks for your support during this transition. For the present time, I intend to sell the stock I have, but I will not be restocking any of these items in the future.