A LETTER FROM THE FOUNDER
It’s time to say goodbye. After five incredibly rewarding years, I am closing Helen Milan Home. This may come as a surprise: As some of you know, we have been gearing up to move our operations and scale up, but we have decided that bigger is not better.
When I started Helen Milan in 2018, it was a creative side hustle while I was raising three young boys. Within a year, the business had taken over half the house and we moved to a warehouse. Last year, we launched our linen program and added drop shipping, and most recently the company was on the verge of moving to a distribution center and expanding our product line. But as we pursued this new stage of growth, we realized it would mean compromising on too many of our core values.
Our ethical and sustainable business model requires us to charge premium prices, and we are unable to offer overnight shipping like the biggest retailers. The most popular retailers in America prioritize speed and low prices over quality, promoting unsustainable practices that harm both the environment and their workforce. As a result, American consumers have come to expect prices and convenience that cannot be achieved without exploiting people and the planet. Read more here.
In order to grow and compete in the current retail environment, we would need to source cheaper, lesser-quality goods with better margins. Using a distribution center would mean cost savings, but also paying staff less for the same work we’d previously done in-house. We would also lose our direct connection to our customers. The bigger Helen Milan got, the further away I got from the business I wanted to create in the first place.
Helen Milan was one of the first high-end, low-waste online retailers in America. Over the years, we brought high-quality zero-waste products into thousands of homes and raised awareness through the celebrities and design publications that highlighted our collection. But what really made Helen Milan special was the intimate relationship we had with our customers.
This loyal and supportive community has been a constant source of inspiration and motivation throughout this journey. Our incredible team of employees were passionate stewards of our brand and mission, and I'm honored to have created a workplace where my coworkers felt fulfilled, appreciated, and well-compensated.
As we wind down, I want to remind you--if you want to live in a world where small businesses like Helen Milan can exist and thrive, you can’t always choose the cheapest thing with the fastest shipping. You may be aware of some of the other well-known, ethical, low-waste retailers that have shuttered their doors in recent years. Ethical, environmentally conscious businesses need your support to compete with the big, multi-nationals. Every time we shop, we vote with our dollars.
Helming this business has been the best job ever. I don’t know what the next iteration of Helen Milan will look like (we have ideas), but I hope we’ll stay in touch. Send me a message on Instagram (@helenmilanhome) or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m so grateful to this community and my staff, past and present: Thank you for everything.
Goodbye for now,