What is success?


The other day I was having a chat with a relative about Red Thread from a business perspective. I was expressing my excitement about reaching some new milestones – my enthusiasm about expanding into Europe, developing great relationships with more retail stores, and selling many more dresses every year, dresses that are now being worn by girls in several countries around the world. She patiently listened while I explained that dresses = happiness. I’ll never forget the first time I saw kids on the street in Toronto wearing clothes I’d made - it was great feeling knowing that something I’d poured so much love and attention into was being enjoyed. Many stories from parents, more and more every year, about how much their children loved wearing my clothes, just added to the good karma.

But does karma make a business successful?

After patiently listening to me for several minutes with one eyebrow raised, my relative finally spoke: “This is all completely meaningless. Who cares how many dresses you sell, or where they end up? All that matters is profit. This is a business!”

As a fully functioning adult (most of the time) I am aware that work is not only for fun. Children must be fed, the mortgage must be paid, and yes, a small business must generate a profit to be successful. I’m very lucky to have a growing number of fantastic customers and retail stores, and despite the very high costs of quality fabric and small-scale local production, Red Thread is successful in conventional ways as well. It’s true that using cheaper materials and overseas production would dramatically increase Red Thread’s profit. But designing and making things that children and their parents enjoy, maybe even cherish, while staying true to values of quality, small-scale local production? That’s a feeling of success that can’t be beat.

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