KICKSTARTING A SLOW SHOPPING MOVEMENT
How lovely is it to get a present? A little surprise or even more than you asked for? And how often does that happen? Well, sometimes (if you back the right Kickstarter project).
The upside of having to wait a long time after you've parted with your cash is that this waiting time is usually punctuated with news and updates, and because this information is about a thing you want. They are small highs in the delayed gratification zone that is crowdfunded shopping.
Having backed a handful of projects over the last few years, I have enjoyed getting these updates and the opportunity to find out a little about the time and effort that goes into the stuff before it arrives. This creates not just a heightened sense of delight when the thing actually arrives, but a greater sense of the worth of the item.
Maybe we would like stuff more if it was not just hurriedly thrown into the back of a van and dispatched forthwith. Maybe we would appreciate our purchases more if we thought of them less as instant hit disposable items and more as useful or beautiful things worth waiting for.
This concentrated care about a single product is something that some companies have focused their attention on. Recent startup Hiut denim, has the motto, “Do one thing well". They make jeans, in Cardigan Bay, Wales. Co-founder David Hieatt puts it really well in his new book,
"Most companies don't have a purpose. This may sound odd but most people have forgotten why they are in business. The founders are dead. The purpose is no longer there. They think it is just to make money. But making money is a result. It is not the purpose. For me, a business that has a purpose is much more energised. It is the wind for the sailboat. It pushes you and the team on. It is the fuel for the journey ahead."
All Kickstarter projects have purpose, it's why they are there. They have a single minded goal that they want you to share in. Once you do, you become part of that purpose. Because of this investment, the time it takes to get the product is less relevant. In an age of “just in time" supply chains and digital purchases that land in the blink of an eye, it's refreshing to care less about speed and more about quality.
The issue however with having so many powerful and compelling stories to browse is I have become addicted to the thrill of being a 'consumer-altruist' and getting unexpected or half-forgotten boxes of goodies through the post. In a bid to sustain this feel-good hit, I've taken to browsing the “ending soon" category to see what projects are already funded so that I can rifle through the rewards, safe in the knowledge that I will be getting another package in the mail sometime soon(ish). I'm not sure that's really playing fair but I guess it all goes into making someone's entrepreneurial or creative dreams a reality. However, I can't help but hear William Morris's mantra ringing in my ears;
" Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
Maybe you can have too much of a good thing?