We're the Founders of My 1st Years and we wanted to address the #BlackLivesMatter movement to our customers and community.
Over the past few weeks, since the horrific and devastating death of Father, George Floyd, many of us all over the world have been reflecting and learning about racism, privilege, injustice and equality... we are only saddened that it is all a little too late. However, ourselves as founders and our teams have been listening, learning and having conversations internally about making a real change at My 1st Years.
We started with 3 words that we also shared on social media: Acknowledge, Educate, Activate and now it's time to do the latter and make visible and impactful changes! Here at My 1st Years, one of our core values is to 'celebrate' however we have come to realise that we are not celebrating the beautifully diverse world we live in, representing the many cultures around us and ensuring everyone feels represented by us, we promise this will change!
As founders, we have encouraged open and uncomfortable conversations in our teams, and have made sure everyone who works for us has a voice and feels able to call us out if we ever stop fighting for this cause. And we welcome you, our customers, to do the same. We are still learning, we are still growing but we promise we are acting, using our voices and making changes to the way our business operates.
Please see below some of the changes we are making at My 1st Years
Our product range does not showcase the amazingly diverse cultures that surround us, this is why we are looking at our range to see where we can make changes. From adding more diversity to our dolls to the celebrations we cater for, we have already started to make amendments to our designs and buys. We must be honest with you, this change cannot happen as fast as we would like, it can take up to a year from design to see one of our products on the (virtual) shelves, and the only way to speed this up is to compromise on quality which we are not willing to do. So, please hold tight and trust us when we say we are making the changes necessary.
Further to this we know that the magic of our site is that you can personalise ANY name, however original or whatever culture it derives from. However, we have not shown that inclusivity in the images shown on our website - that is why we are working hard to re-shoot many of the gifts available online with a diverse selection of names from a number of different cultures. With this in mind we are continuing to work on our personalisation techniques giving us the ability to offer more language options on our gifts.
We know that our site has not always been representative, and the models used have not always been as diverse as they should be. We have always picked models based on a child's age, clothing size, and the stage the child is at e.g. sitting up unaided. Although not intentionally, this has led to a lack of diversity and we have not questioned this enough, but from this day on we will always question ourselves. Based on the feedback given to us by customers and what we have seen, we have decided to not use model agencies as much as possible to provide diversity across our site. All models will be found using our social media platforms asking you, our community, to apply and share your images with us - the more you share our model searches the more people who will see them and enter, therefore giving us a far more diverse selection of children to choose from. ** Please note due to the Covid19 pandemic we are unable to have any photoshoots that include models for the safety of the models and our own staff.
We want our social media pages to be as representative as the world around us, we have taken a long hard look at our accounts and come to realise that we have not been as representative as we should have been. From the children in the images we publish to the occasions celebrated we must do more, and we will! We are already working hard to diversify our feed and the content creators we work with. We understand that the influencers and creators we work with are an extension of our business that is why we are looking into every name on our PR list to ensure they stand for the things we believe in, and if they do not they will be removed. We have also ensured to diversify our list of creators to ensure that we are working with people across a multitude of races and cultures! We recognise that we have the power to make changes in our community and that if we do not implement these changes then we are helping to play into the systemic racism seen across the world. We are also committed to our promise that all influencers and creators are treated the same, no one will ever be paid more based on the colour of their skin, they never have and never will be. One way you can help us diversify our feeds is to continue tagging us in your photos of little ones with our gifts using #My1stYears - giving us far more imagery of far more children!
Everybody who works for My 1st Years has been involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement, we have encouraged our teams to acknowledge what is happening, educate themselves and to activate both in their departments at work and in their personal lives. We have also encouraged our team to speak up when they see injustice. We never have and we never will accept racism at My 1st Years, and we encourage people from all ethnicities and cultures to work with our lovely team. We only ever hire people based on their skill not the colour of their skin or religious beliefs, but although we employ people from a number of different cultures, ethnicities and religions we think we can do more! In order to help us with this we have recently appointed a new recruitment agency to help us grow our team as we head into our peak season and have had conversations about encouraging people from all ethnicities and those who believe in our ethos. We understand that as two white men managing a predominately white team we hold a lot of privilege, but this does not mean that we should not be allies! We are doing all we can to work together and create an anti-racist and inclusive workplace that everybody feels a part of!
Here at My 1st Years, we are passionate about creating great content, from informative blog posts to beautiful videos and we are keen to ensure that we are representative of all cultures and communities. We will continue to use our blog as a guide to inform and support families and children on ways to be anti-racist, to educate their little ones and source and share the best resources we can find. We will ensure that we work with creators of all ethnicities and represent parenting from all cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds. This is not a trend, nor is it just a hashtag: this is something we are weaving into our everyday strategy!
We don't expect to have it all right, in fact, we will likely make mistakes. But as Founders, Father's and Employers we believe it is our duty to speak up and teach the future generations to do the same.
"It is better to say something than nothing at all"
Please feel free to email us with any suggestions or ways we can do more, and we promise to take action. Because here at My 1st Years, #BLACKLIVESMATTER
Daniel & Jonny
Co-Founders at My 1st Years