One reason that I've hesitated to pull the trigger on starting my own business -- especially one with a "hyper local" lens -- is that I didn't want to be a business owner until I could source ALL of my creative needs locally.
You'll see some incredible images on this website as it grows and evolves. And, if you book me for consulting work, you'll see gorgeous photographs in your final product.
I'm making a commitment right now that 100% of the images I use will be locally sourced. Why does this matter you might ask?
(photo by Meg Richards)
It matters because relationships matter.
The above photo captures the essence, and traditional view, of shopping local. This is an image of Hilger's Farmstand in Fort Wayne, IN. When you shake the hand of the person who grows your food, you take that relationship with you. You elevate your purchase from transaction to relationship. And we begin to approach a sustainable model for doing business. Because maybe your squash cost incrementally more, but you see the beneficiary of the dollar and the work behind the delicious food.
The same concepts extend to creative work (and really anything else readily available on the internet). Stock photography is available widely online and even the most obscure search terms result in a workable image. But just like with fast-fashion or fast food...the impact of sending your money away from where you live, eat, breathe, and work is negligible at first...and then destructive all at once.
"Buy Local" isn't really about feeling good. Buying local is about a massive multiplier effect!
Locally owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to absentee-owned businesses OR locally owned franchises*. Thus, shopping locally (and working with local creatives, artists, designers, and consultants) creates more local wealth and jobs.
This multiplier is comprised of three elements - the direct, indirect, and induced impacts.
Direct: The creative I pay for their work is spending their money in the local economy to operate their creative business including buying their equipment, paying their employees, and paying their utilities.
Indirect: The creative I pay for their work is spending the money I pay them at other local businesses, re-circulating those dollars efficiently.
Induced: The creative I pay for their work has set money in motion in the local economy that otherwise would be drifting off to New York or LA, thus empowering additional consumers to spend locally.
This isn't just guess work! Civic Economics (a private research firm) has conducted many studies on this very topic and the results are staggering. In their first study, local businesses returned more than three times as much money to the local economy as a proposed franchise/chain would.
If Impact Investing is about MAKING YOUR MONEY BEHAVE, then there is no better way to get your money in line than by spending locally.
*Most local franchise multiplier effects fall between that of a local independent and chain competitor in their business category.