My name is Caroline. I was in my mid-twenties when I fell in love with climbing. My local climbing wall became my playground. My second home. Very soon, I decided climbing was all I ever wanted my life to be about. 2 years later, I founded Serious Climbing and started designing training products for climbers.
5 years ago, I founded Serious Climbing with the idea that I could improve climbers’ lives by sourcing and supplying high quality climbing products.
But here’s what actually happened: slowly, as I dived into the business, the financial realities pushed me to work more and more, to negotiate harder, to compete better, and I started to lose my sense of connection with the world, and with myself. To be honest, I’m just starting to regain some.
You know the feeling when… you start losing your sense of authenticity, you forget the reason why you started doing what you’re doing in the first place, and wondering if what you’re doing is making any sense, or if you’re even doing any good in the world. If this sounds familiar, then please read on, as I believe I can help you regain some sense and direction, and show you just how much good you’re already doing for the world, and what you can do to keep all the good things going.
When I started Serious Climbing 5 years ago, the idea was to provide climbers and climbing centres with fun, high quality products, so they could have fun climbing and be happy. I was clear on one thing: to select only products that were made ethically: i.e. products that respected and supported the people who were making them.
A few years on, this is still what we do. We vet all of the manufacturers we purchase from, and only select products we’re happy are manufactured in accordance with our primary value / first and foremost ‘people first’ value. Yet, over the past few months, perhaps because of the arrival of my baby boy Charlie, some things / aspects of the business started to drag me down: whilst we ensured the products were made ethically, the fact that climbing holds, and the indoor climbing industry at large, aren’t exactly a picture of sustainability, started to increasingly bother me day-by-day, and insidiously started to make me doubt about my whole involvement in the climbing industry. The products aren’t especially environmentally friendly, most are neither recyclable nor reusable at the end of their lifecycle. This was completely at odds with who I wanted to become / what I wanted to achieve in my life.
Did I not want to only do good in the world? Of course I did. Therefore, should I just give up all together and look at other business ideas and options that better suited my ecological conscience? Or could I stay here and find ways to improve the status quo?
I’m choosing the latter, and here’s why you should too.
1. Good things we do are real.
2. Sometimes good things we do have negative impacts in other areas. It’s an unavoidable reality, and it’s OK: one bad this does not necessarily cancel the other. As long as the negatives are temporary and we take steps to counteract them. And there are ways to counteract the ecological impact of our businesses.
3. We need to start somewhere, and build gradually. It’s better to start un-perfect, and commit to becoming better, than to not start at all, as there would be no chance to improving anything. Keeping the status quo does not ensure things stay good. In fact, everything in the world is in motion. Stagnation does not exist. If you’re not improving, you’re regressing. Evolution is made in leaps. Toit d’usine qui grimpe.
4. It’s OK to not be 100% perfect straight away, as long as we work towards improving.
Let me explain further:
1. Good things We do – where “We” includes You – are real.
Stay true to your values, and choose to do business with suppliers and customers who share those values. This will enable you to fulfil your basic missions first. The rest will follow.
And whilst you may not feel like you’re choosing your customers, I believe you are: by openly sharing your values and acting according to them, you automatically draw in like-minded customers. Your customers may not share all of your values, but I can guarantee you, they’ll share the main ones.
With our “people first” primary policy, here are the missions we fulfil:
Mission 1 – we select suppliers who share the same values as ours, and support those suppliers. In turns, these suppliers may carry on staying true to this common value, and carry on supporting their employees, as well as their suppliers.
Mission 2 – we support our customers – You – and help you keep your sense of authenticity, by ensuring the products you’re using are made in accordance with your values. In turn, you can stay true to your commitments, and carry on supporting Your customers, who can feel like they’re also staying true to their values and beliefs.
Mission 3 – we are committed to generating enough turnover to sustain our ethical business policies, and avoid cutting corners by scraping out.
Mission 4 – by staying true to our values, we support our employees, we help our suppliers support their employees, and help you carry on supporting Your employees, who in turn support, well, whoever they want to.
2. Counteracting negative impacts of our businesses
Mission 5 – This is the big one. Generate profit, enough profit, to reinvest into good projects. Whilst we’re still working on this one, we already have lots of ideas in the pipeline to better the world, just awaiting a little more funding coming their way.
So what do you have to gain by getting your holds and rental gear from us?
– The guarantee that we care, and that we won’t break the “people first” chain. So YOU know that YOU’re staying true to those values.
– And that we will do our bit to reduce our ecological impact until it gets below zero. Yes, below zero. We want to do so much good that it’s actually better to do business, than not to do business. Thank you for helping us get there.
So please note that if what you’re after is just price and finding the cheapest products regardless of how they’re made, then please just move on to the next site, as we just won’t be a right fit.
However, if you’re looking for holds and shoes from suppliers who care and take responsibility for their manufacturing choices, you have come to the right place. Speak to us and we’ll help you figure out the best options for your centre.
Because at Serious Climbing, we’re committed to being, and staying, Seriously Caring.
On a separate note, I’m doing a “30 days of Doing Business with a Conscience” email series. In the series I’ll explore various themes that often make my mind wrestle with questions, and how I manage or struggle to deal with them. If this is a theme that’s also regularly on your mind, please sign up below, and hopefully you’ll find some inspiration to overcome some of your own business / conscience challenges.