Earlier this year, Byron and Dexter Peart, the Montreal-based brothers who, in 2000, launched the handsome lifestyle brand Want Les Essentiels, debuted their followup project, Goodee. An online marketplace for home and design wares, it’s also an educational resource for those interested in learning more and engaging in a sustainable model for their homes.
Every brand featured in the online store has been vetted by the Pearts and the Goodee staff to ensure the makers and their products have met social and environmental requirements, whether that be achieving B Corp status (which Goodee itself has pending), using natural materials, or providing craft workers with a sustainable living wage. Here, the Pearts discuss the current marketplace for sustainable goods, the consumer education process and the relationship between creativity and sustainability.
Why did you launch Goodee?
Byron: Because we made products ourselves – with Want Les Essentiels, we were making timeless, essential items – that’s always how we’ve been thinking about design. Things need to exist and have a purpose in your everyday life. As consumers, we saw that things were moving further and further from that. More products, more seasons – the rapidity of how we were consuming information and products was at this endless speed. We wanted things to slow down for ourselves as consumers. And we thought about time. How does time play a role in terms of storytelling? How does time play a role in terms of how things are made?
Have you noticed customers seeking out that sort of slower manufacturing?
Dexter: Definitely. I still think that the change is happening. Slowly. In the sense that even if you were looking for that, it’s very difficult to know where to find it.
Byron: To Dexter’s point, where we were a few years ago, when we were talking about ethical production or ethical consumption or sustainability, it was very narrowly defined. The consumer has evolved so much in terms of having conversations that are so much broader – that I really have to be mindful of these things throughout all aspects of my life.
I think people are aware of the ideas of mindful consumption and sustainability, but they might not actually know what that means or what it consists of.
Dexter: We’re focused on trying to help people make better choices. Hopefully that inspires them to want to be part of this conversation, and this consumer pattern a little bit more. We’re not thinking about “You should know about X, Y, Z.” We’re more about creating an environment and an experience. It’s really good stories about people that are doing things that we think other people should know about. I don’t think people are going to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle only because that’s going to help save the world. Maybe that’s unfortunate, but that’s probably the reality of the times that we’re in today. If you do something that actually does have some kind of impact and purpose, but is also beautiful, I think you really have an opportunity to gain attention.
How hard has it been to find makers and brands that not only meet the style requirements that you want, but also the sustainability needs?
Dexter: From very early on, we came up with three pillars. One of them is good people, the second one is good design, and the last one is good impact. That’s how we started our search, and the good news is that there are so many of them. Over 100 companies are already in the pipeline; we have 30 of them online right now. When you think about the rigour that we’re putting into the [selection] process, those other 70, maybe they will join, maybe they won’t, but we’re certain we’re building out a larger and larger community of people that are creating amazing things.
What’s the relationship between creativity and sustainability? Is sustainability changing the look of our homes?
Dexter: When you think of the power of design and the power of creation, and the problems in the world that need to be solved, I think it is a bit on creators and designers and makers to really start coming up with the next solutions for the future. Probably less production, better production, meant to last longer. It’s all part of a sustainable conversation. That is a very natural part of design thinking. So I don’t think you can keep the two of them apart. And I think the home is probably the most sustainable space in our lives. When we think about the home versus fashion, unfortunately or fortunately, the home happens to be a better environment for having a conversation about sustainable tenets, that speaks to a slower living sensibility.
This interview has been condensed and edited.