he Urban Dictionary defines a Sharkie
as “a predatory creature that feeds upon nylon!” from the first fashion run that was put on the Black Milk Clothing
website. Now you may wonder why I would proudly call myself a Sharkie? It’s only clothing right? Everyone wears clothes- it’s nothing special. But I’m arguing that being a Sharkie is special; because not only do I get to wear nylon and super bright prints, but I am supporting 100% Australian made and owned products. They are also a Brisbane based online store that trumps (I’m going to say ALL) department store customer service, and doesn’t stomp all over the little guys in the process.
Here comes the segue… my first job was in a locally owned and operated optometry practice in Mackay, I then moved to Scotland where I worked in one of the biggest chained pubs in the UK. OK, a complete career change but the environmental change was even greater – and I am not referring to the difference in climate between these two great countries. I had gone from being able to speak with my boss/practice owner on a daily basis, to being so far down the ladder of communication that I had NO idea who actually ran the company or why we had certain procedures in place!
Returning to Australia I knew that I never wanted to work for a big company again and instead wanted to work for someone who knew me personally, where I wasn’t just a number on the payroll, and was instead made to feel like I actually made a difference to the business. In short to be able to replicate the same customer service experience that I had grown to love from my Sharkie habit supporting Black Milk friends. Hmmm that nylony goodness that’s like wearing stretchy butter overlayed with galaxy print….
There is something about walking in to a small business as a customer. The staff are a little more laid back and friendly, taking the time to get to know you and your needs, which the majority of larger companies will pay lip service to do, but instead with a goal to make the sale rather than build rapport with their customers. This positive staff attitude is the reason I keep shopping with Black Milk Clothing- they have millions of followers worldwide but still take the time to reply to each individual on social media sites- they will even draw a picture on my delivery slip when I ask for one! It’s also the reason I keep going to the tiny family owned coffee shop down the road from my house, who take the time to make my visit an experience rather than treating me like another order to bump off the board when my order is ready.
I am now working for another locally owned and operated business, Gerry & Johnson Optometrists, who have a strong and growing patient base. It didn’t take long for me to see why. Our optometrists genuinely care about solving our patients’ vision problems while striving to educate them on all aspects of their eye health with the aim to secure them best quality vision throughout their lives. These guys truly get as excited about eyes as I do about my next Black Milk purchase! Out front we have the flexibility to make our own decisions about what stock and sundries come into the practice. By doing this we can also consciously make the choice to support other small businesses and keep the cycle going.
As for the good life? All my dreams were reached when I was allowed to indoctrinate all of the staff as Sharkies in support of Optometry Giving Sight’s World Sight Day Challenge
, where we all got to wear the Black Milk ‘Eye see you’ legs for the day. Not only was this a great deal of fun for us and customers alike, but through donating the exam fees for the day we got to raise over $500 for Optometry Giving Sight
in the process. Don’t you think there is an argument to be made from the blog post picture above that this Sharkie uniform should remain?
Another great cause that we are currently promoting at Gerry & Johnson is Think Big Shop Small, a movement born in America but now in its second year in Australia to promote small business. I can tell you from my experience working in this industry that small retail is under colossal pressure from big chains and is hurting. Without these small family owned business our world would be a less customer friendly place.
So to keep these wonderful small business’ going, I ask that you join me in making a special effort to shop in locally owned small business during this Shop Small month, not only in November, but all year round. Not only would this make a huge impact on the shop owners’ livelihood, but in turn you will be contributing to your local community. As for being a Sharkie – I dare you to join me – www.blackmilkclothing.com!