NEWS & STYLE
THE VERTICALE VALUES 101: RAISING OUR STANDARDS
Our Founders Jaclyn Grauman & Michelle Silverstein On Why Values Matter
After some hard work and long nights, we are thrilled to announce our new and improved Verticale Values! The Verticale Values are core to who we are - they are the set of criteria that qualifies a brand to be Verticale-approved. We curate around our Verticale Values, and every brand on our site has to meet the standards for at least one.
It all started because only a few months after launching our site, we began to ask ourselves some tough questions: Is the criteria for each value clear enough to our audience? Are the definitions clear or are they blurred? Most importantly, could we in any way be adding to the consumer confusion that’s out there? When we rushed to get our e-commerce site live as two bootstrapped founders, is it possible that we missed a step?
It’s our intention to deliberately set ourselves apart from the misuse of words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘ethical production’ without the proper information to validate those claims. We hold ourselves to high standards and look to define a new era of conscious consumerism at The Verticale. As founders, when we didn’t have the perfect answer to some of the questions we were asking ourselves, we decided to go back to the drawing board.
One fact we could not get away from is true for each and every one of our Verticale Values: the devil is in the details. That’s why we dove deep. We worked diligently to find the holes in our own system and went through an intensive review process to reevaluate the names and standards for each of the Verticale Values.
Many of these decisions weren’t easy and often there are no ‘right’ answers. We knew that raising the bar too high would disqualify many well-intentioned brands that are making huge strides toward making a positive impact on the world. For instance, certificates are important but always requiring them would mean limiting ourselves to the brands that had the funding (personal or investment) and necessary timeline to obtain them. Setting the bar too low would mean more confusion, greenwashing, and ultimately failing to reach our goal of setting trusted standards in conscious consumerism.
After all the hard work, we are incredibly proud of where we landed, and we stand behind the new descriptors and qualifiers in place. These changes are reflected in our Verticale Value page, which is now full of specific qualifiers and details. We chose to do all of this before our community started asking for it, because we knew better and knew that we needed to earn your trust.
We then audited each of our 60 brands to reevaluate which values they qualify for. In doing so we built a formal internal checklist, and began collecting paperwork, certifications, proof from brands that they are what they say they are. Over time, this will evolve to impact reports, regularly scheduled reviews of our brand partners' information, and so much more. Today we are a small team of two (with some awesome part-time hires) but we have big aspirations for the days when our team grows.
It’s worth noting that our values are what we have defined today but they are certainly not ‘final’. As an early stage startup, we will grow and change as the world evolves. Our Verticale Values might change and we’re ok with that. This process also helped us define what we stand for.
We Stand For: Sustainability, Ethics, Equality & Health.
A few more fundamental decisions about The Verticale and who we are were made along the way. First, we decided that we would start to disclose the percentage of our brand mix within each value category directly on our site, meaning that we provide transparency into the percent of our brands that meet each value. This holds us accountable for where we are today and where we are going. The second big decision was our 1% For A Better Tomorrow pledge, through which we started donating 1% of every sale toward causes that align with our values and positively impact the world. You can learn more about both initiatives on our Verticale Values page!
We are changing retail by making it easier to shop brands that actually stand for something beyond the product. We hope you’ll read on to explore our values and learn how we are driving toward a better tomorrow!
Founders, Jaclyn Grauman & Michelle Silverstein
Sourcing materials that are environmentally responsible. This includes certain kinds of natural fibers (such as cotton, hemp, flax), as well as man-made cellulosic (viscose, lyocell, modal). Standards and certifications emphasize traceability to the farm level and may include Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Cotton, Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA), and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified Viscose, among others.
A commitment to the reduction of waste, beyond packaging and shipping materials. This includes small batch or made-to-order production, upcycled and recycled materials made of Global Recycled Standard (GRS) polyester, or an extended product life cycle through circularity initiatives such as take-back programs and resale.
Production practices rooted in the fair treatment and payment of workers. This may include actual living wage payments or the public commitment to pursue the living wage standard. Living wage is defined as the minimum income needed to meet a worker's basic needs and is typically well above the legal minimum wage. Factory certifications include Fair Trade and SA8000.
Production practices that support local craftspeople, including artisanal workshops and local expertise worldwide as well as ethical Made in America practices. This applies to various regions throughout the world that have cultivated decades and centuries of traditional know-how. The proximity between materials and manufacturing may also be considered.
Giving back as a core, constant business practice. Companies qualify if a donation to a non-profit can be directly tied to each and every item sold, either through a one-for-one model or a monetary donation.
Products made from natural ingredients. Clean products refrain from the use of toxic ingredients, and are often paraben and phthalates free and refrain from the use of animal testing. They are created with a mentality of fewer, simpler ingredients and are mostly plant-based.
Companies and products with a purpose of living a healthier lifestyle. A commitment towards better living that impacts our physical and/or mental wellbeing. This includes supplements, fitness, mental health, or daily habit enhancers.
A mission that supports the empowerment and equality of women. This includes female-founded companies that drive equality through their words and actions, fulfill the unmet needs of other women through their product offerings, or intentionally support other women through programming and opportunities that would not otherwise be available to them.
Founded by black, brown, indigenous or people of color. The growth of these underrepresented founder groups will result in a more equal tomorrow. At The Verticale we are committed to reaching and sustaining the 15% pledge.
A mission that encourages inclusivity and empowerment for all, actively challenging damaging stereotypes within our society. This includes a commitment to support body positivity, racial diversity, LBGTQ communities and people with disabilities.