Going Indie

I was very keen this year to change my ways further towards buying Indie.

Opening my own business has given me exposure to how many very talented people there are around us and how hard it is for them to make even a modest living.

You might remember that I did a check on my own spending last year and although I considered myself a thoughtful shopper, the amount I actually spent Indie was tiny. So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in my year of being more Indie…
Indie Xmas bauble
1) Buying Indie puts about ten times more money back into the economy than buying chain or large online. When you buy from chains or large online stores, 95% of that money flies straight out of your local economy. We need that money circulating locally to have healthy towns and cities. Without a huge public regeneration fund, buying Indie is possibly the best action each of us can take to boost the economy. It’s the sound and logical thing to do to help your home town survive tough times.

2) This wasn’t an excuse to spend lots of money. This was purely about how I spent money I was already spending. Why can’t a lip balm come from Little Shop of Lathers rather than Boots? We all make choices on how to spend what money we have. I’ve looked at the things I bought from chains and tried to swap to Indie.

3) Planning helps me make good decisions. When I kept running out of milk, I had to buy from the supermarket. Now we get our milk weekly with the veg box so I don’t have to remember to make the ‘right choice’ each week. It’s the same with greetings cards – if I’m in a rush, it’s going to come from the supermarket! But there are so many beautiful handmade cards that I buy several when I see them and pick one out when I need it.

4) My biggest challenge was having to completely rethink what I mean by “value” and what I think I can afford. I was so used to the special offers and low prices and I’ve been brought up to prize finding a bargain. I think I’m most of the way there, so here’s my checks:

… If I’m tempted by tat, I remind myself of the slavery footprint concept and watching Youtube life laundry videos has helped me think about why I’m bringing extra stuff into the house.
… If I want something cheap and cheerful, it needs to be secondhand. Whether charity shop, ebay or vintage, I can get my bargain fix whilst recycling.
… I look from scratch at how much things cost and whether I’m happy with it. I’m no longer going to trust the knee jerk ‘that’s too expensive’ reaction. I want to think about it. I recently got a chair recovered. I loved that chair. But the quote gave me that knee jerk reaction. I had to think about it and actually it wasn’t too expensive, it reflected well the hours needed and the training to have the skills to reupholster an armchair. I’m really proud of that chair now. It’s unique and beautifully made, it’ll last many years and it is a reminder of a different kind of ‘value’.

5) I’ve stopped myself if I start thinking that this is like going on a diet. I’m not ‘depriving myself’ or ‘being good’. It doesn’t matter if I make bad choices occasionally – I’ve been inside plenty of supermarkets and fast food chains this year. This isn’t about being holier than anyone else, feeling guilty or making life harder. I haven’t failed if I buy from the chains, I just know that each Indie choice is helping one of my neighbours make a living.

6) There are a few different resources that show me where my Indie businesses are so I know what’s out there. It’s a lot of fun to go discover something new and see if you like it. I’ve got to know more people where I live and have even made new friends thanks to buying Indie.

7) Having found the Indie options, I’m only going to buy something if I really love it. I’m no fan of badly run businesses, crap craft or anything else that you can come across. It has to be good to get in my basket.

So that’s what I’ve learned. It’s been really challenging to rethink some of my habits – had to dig up my old Cognitive Behavioural Thinking skills. But you can change a habit, you can change an unhelpful way of thinking, they’re just what you’re used to doing, they aren’t barriers to a different way.

When you spend time among really talented, savvy, hard working people who are still wondering why they can’t make a living from their efforts, it gives you an imperative to change. This pro-Indie movement we’re seeing can grow. It only takes a few more pro-Indie decisions from each of us to make a difference to our neighbours and to bring some much needed novelty to our own lives.

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