"Are you selling reject items?"
(In short, no.)
I first encountered the philosophy of “wabi sabi” in a pottery class in primary school. Of course, our clumsy small hands couldn’t achieve any symmetrical perfection on the pottery wheel, but the teacher kindly praised the many imperfect little pots and mugs. She talked about wabi sabi — simplified as “perfection in imperfection”. I learned to accept the transience of material items and the beauty in imperfection. This idea of perfect imperfection has been an influence on my day to day life, and I thought about it again when our deodorant stones (being fragile) were damaged during transport to our storeroom or due to customer handling at retail stores (kids really like to stack the stones like building blocks, I realise).
Some time in 2015, we were faced with a particular shipment of crystal deodorant stones that had been damaged in transit due to the shipping handler's mistakes (oops!) A bit heartbroken and frustrated at the loss, I had the usual thought: Well I'll just use it myself then!
But the deodorant stones last over a year even with frequent use, and with about a hundred damaged stones in front of me, I wouldn't be able to use this up in my lifetime, not even after sharing with friends!
I decided to try a little experiment since I knew that I would personally still use the chipped items because they were totally usable. Instead of feeling anger at the damage, I decided to sell “wabi sabi” stones (with small flaws) at a discount for those who also found it acceptable.
I was curious to see if my customers would also be open to the thought of using "flawed" deodorant stones, since the cracks and chips did not affect usage.
In true zero-waste fashion, everyone supported the idea of "wabi sabi stones"! I was touched! The proceeds from the sale of those flawed stones went towards funding a donation of toothbrushes to a children's home. Win-win and smiles all around.
Ever since then, I have continued to offer "wabi sabi" options on deodorant stones since they are fragile and prone to damage either in transit or due to mishandling while on display on our retail shelves. I have also offered "wabi sabi" options on metal flasks and lunchboxes! The funny thing is that I often get questions about when the restock on wabi sabi items will be. We don't plan restocks, as we don't plan accidental damage! When they happen, they happen, and I quietly re-list the available items on the page.
When we were approached to display products for the Not-So-Convenience store , I was pleasantly surprised that they specifically asked for FLAWED deodorant stones to display.
This reduces waste and allows customers to experience the product at a discount. It also makes people consider whether they can accept perfectly imperfect items. The slight chips do not affect usage, and sometimes make the deodorant stone appear even more crystal-like as they catch the sunlight. I was surprised that over the past few years the wabi-sabi items have been a hit and people specifically look out for them! A few earth-minded stores have also sent us messages to say that we've inspired an "imperfect" range in their own shops! I love that! Thank you for embracing imperfections!
Right now, you can find all the "wabi sabi" options at this link.