We don’t sell gifts ‘for men’...
We’re riled. If you think we sell gifts ‘for men’ – that's your lens. Not our business model.
Having done a promotion for father’s day online, we’ve been accused of perpetuating the myth of gender stereotypes – that flowers are for women and tools are for men.
When I say accused, I mean there’s been one comment. But it has certainly rankled.
We could have a rant about how people should use social media more kindly. You know, all the stuff we teach our children – to think before they type. To check their thinking and their facts before they make sweeping accusations. To consider whether they’d walk up to that person in real life and say what they’re planning to type.
To be fair the comment wasn’t torrid. It was just a smug swipe. It’s the sentiment that bugs us. Because it’s so far off the mark.
We don’t sell ‘gifts for men’. We have a really clear business philosophy – we sell tools and kit that we really rate. That we would buy for each other. That aren’t ‘tick box gift tat’, that will last a really long time and can be looked after rather than replaced. We’ve segmented the market looking at whom we’d want to, and be able to, sell tools to. Hence the strapline ‘for makers, menders and growers’. Nowhere in our discussions or plans have we ever targeted men. We promoted Mother's Day in exactly the same way as we have been promoting Father's Day.
Do we occasionally get people saying we’ve got some great gifts for men when we have a stand at shows? Yes. Often by the organisers of said events who would like to offer a better mix of gifts. That’s their lens. NOT ours. We just think that we’ll offer a better mix of gifts – because we know that both women and men like to make, mend and grow! If you think women don’t, and that what we offer is for ‘men only’ – that reflects on your outdated thinking and bias – not ours!
Does gendered gift marketing, from OTHER companies, perpetuate myths of femininity and masculinity? Yes. The websites, catalogues or companies that are labelled ‘for her’ and ‘for him’ have a 1950s mentality.
Do we have a very clear aesthetic that may be construed as ‘male’ if you see the world in the same 1950s binary way? Yes we do. But if you think we sell ‘gifts for men’ because we have a black logo and don’t stock anything in pink – that’s your lens. Not ours. We don’t stock anything in pink because I personally can’t stand the colour and Edd is totally indifferent to it too. It’s an unfair reaction to the colour – but it’s due to what I call ‘pantyliner marketing’ i.e. to sell this is to women, let’s make it pink or put flowers on it rather than adapt it to their needs. That’s just lazy and sloppy product development. We’re big on products being right – tools need to work well in the hand. Overalls need to fit right to be worn well. We test stuff (gloves are currently in test – and we BOTH test them) so we can talk, with confidence, about size from different perspectives, to help you buy the right ones.
But what about the people who want the right tools and kit, and to be able to chose it in pink? If we did that, would it stop us being perceived as a company that’s ‘for men’? Perhaps, but we aren’t going to. Yep, call us ‘pink’ist’ if you like. But here’s the thing. We stock stuff we love. If we both don’t rate it, want it for ourselves or as a gift to someone we love, then we don’t stock it. There have been (and no doubt will continue to be) things that we don’t sell, because we don’t agree on them. They don’t make the cut. The one thing we do agree on is the colour pink, so that won’t make the cut. But if you really, really, really want a Japanese steel toolbox in pink, let us know and we’ll special order one for you. Just don’t expect us to like it!
Ps. The picture is one we took when we drove across the Great Rift Valley, Kenya.