As a small business ourselves, we know the struggle of working on brand awareness with a limited budget. Family-owned or new businesses often don’t have the opportunity to spend thousands of dollars on Google ads or influencer marketing. But one place small businesses are finding rapid success growing organic brand awareness in is TikTok. The TikTok algorithm tends to reward transparency and authenticity, making it a wonderful platform for small business owners who embrace it. In fact, small businesses tend to have an advantage on this platform vs. larger corporations: due to the short trend cycles and younger audiences, larger brands have trouble keeping up and being genuine enough to entice a loyal following.
During our short time on TikTok, we’ve been blown away by the people we’ve found inciting real change with their platforms. And we’d love to show you four (4) brands we have had the pleasure of finding on our FYP. Needless to say, we are very much inspired by their drive and ethical standards, and we hope you will be, too!
Sylven New York
We first heard of sylvennewyork from an unboxing video. What caught our attention was their new vegan apple leather and coconut husk insole sneakers. While many shoe and bag companies are phasing out leather, this often means switching to plastic, which isn’t much better for the environment. Sylven’s apple leather is a bio-based leather alternative made using organic apple waste originating in Italy. But that’s only one of their impressive materials. The lining of their shoes is made from wheat and barley, their soles are made of recycled cut-off waste, and their hardware handmade by Kenyan artisans! This dedication to sustainable and traceable resources should be the standard to which all businesses are held. Not to mention the styles are timeless: a far cry from the microtrends we've seen prevalent on TikTok for the last year.
hutmentality is a high-fashion brand created by 22-year-old Isha to support indigenous artists in rural india. The collections are full of handmade and intricate pieces one can only describe as art. Sadly, over the past several decades, many skilled artisans have been abandoning their craft due to higher demand for fast fashion. But, through hutmentality, Isha hopes to give them a platform to sell their work to those who appreciate it. And it must be working because the pieces are almost always sold out! The clothes are absolutely stunning, and we hope to snag a piece one day to style with our own jewelry.
RIVA was first founded by 2 young men in NYC decades ago and, because of our origins, we love supporting other young entrepreneurs. Kerrhyn is an 18-year-old designer in NYC making colorful, size-inclusive, affordable clothing for those really loving the ‘90s fashion throwback happening at the moment. Pieces are made-to-order by her to reduce waste, and she accepts custom requests and sizing for those who need it! We truly admire her creativity and drive.
Although Brillies itself doesn’t have a TikTok account as far as we know, its founder and CEO @kailauli does! And that’s how we found out about the wonderful world of deadstock sunglasses. Did you know there are warehouses out there full of vintage products that have yet to see the light of day? Brillies’s mission is to make vintage sunglasses available and affordable in order to promote more sustainable fashion choices. The best part? The super stylish sunglasses are $30 with free shipping in the U.S.! So we can live out our ‘90s/early 2000s dream while saving the planet and not breaking the bank.
Fast fashion is one of the most wasteful industries of our time, but seeing other small businesses like these four taking ethical sourcing and manufacturing seriously is so inspiring. We hope to partner with like-minded brands in the future! If you know of any other brands worth looking into, DM us on Instagram, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by Rebecca Doudak