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February 05, 2021

Where We Stand: An Update


Hello, friends. We’ve got some important updates for you. 

In June of 2020, we shared some of our thoughts, reflections, and commitments regarding racial injustice. You can read that statement here. 

Since then, we’ve continued to talk at length, in meetings with our staff, leadership, hiring teams, and experts in our community, about how Blue Q can get and stay more involved in the fight for racial equity—and we’ve started to put some of our ideas into action. While our work is far from finished, we thought it was time for a check-in, to let you know how and what we’re doing.


We pledged to actively seek out Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) collaborators in our product development process, and intentionally increase the representation of BIPOC on our products.

A little background: every year, Blue Q creates 50-70 new products for each of two releases, one in the summer and one in the winter. That means each release takes us about 6 months to develop, manufacture, and then ship out to our customers. We generally work with about 25 different artists for each release, some new to us and some veteran Blue Q designers—and of that group very few have historically been BIPOC. Of course, this oversight wasn’t intentional, but as you can imagine, we were pretty disappointed when we dug into the numbers.

For our Winter 2021 release, which we started designing in July, we were able to meet and work with 7 new artists, 4 of whom were of color. In turn, their creativity and talent contributed to almost 30% of our overall release. It’s no coincidence that we also feel like this has been our best-ever release. 

We’re so honored to work with these new talented and thoughtful artists—and we’ll continue to broaden our family of collaborators even more in the future. To that end, BIPOC make up 80% of the new artists included in our upcoming Summer 2021 release.

We promised to represent BIPOC in our catalogs and on our website. 

We shoot new product photography for each new release. When we launched our newest product category, Blue Q Toothbrushes in September 2020, we made a conscious effort to feature a diverse group of models on our website. While our other product categories don’t feature models at the moment, it’s something we’ve talked about pursuing, if only as an opportunity to represent more diversity.

We also shoot new catalog photography for each release. Many of you never see our wholesale catalog, but many of the shots end up on our website and promotional emails. In our 2020 catalog, which came out in December of 2019, 27% of the photos were modeled by BIPOC. For our 2021 Catalog, which came out December of 2020, that number was 39%.

That said, when we really interrogated our historic lack of representation, we were forced to face some larger blind spots. Why did we have so few models of color in the first place? Probably because we always used the same models—employees, friends, and family members that made up a pretty homogenous group. It’s made us rethink the way we create our networks in the first place, and that remains an ongoing conversation.

We committed to making sure job openings are shared broadly across the local community, and not just within our own social spheres. 

Like so many businesses this year, we haven’t had a ton of job openings. But, we’re optimistic that that will change, and that when it does, we’ll be ready to do things differently. We’re doing proactive research and reach-outs to make sure that when we start to hire again, those openings will get in front of a more diverse set of eyes.

We pledged to use our voice to encourage civic engagement.

While we’re not shy about our personal political stances, we rarely dip our toe into direct political discourse as a company. That said, this year we hired artists to help us get out the vote, which was a really exciting new project for us. Social justice and policy are inextricably linked, and we are keeping our eyes out for new ways to get involved.

We promised to educate ourselves, and with that knowledge, be more intentional in our fight against racism and discrimination in all forms. 

So many of the Blue Q staff have been reading, watching, and listening over the past months, to learn how to be better allies and defenders, friends and neighbors, advocates and elevators. We’re sharing that information with one another in a working document, and building a physical resource library in our warehouse, for Blue Q staff and neighboring businesses alike. We’re especially excited about filling these shelves with books for kids, to help our staff bring these important conversations into their own homes. And soon, we’ll be adding a section to our company-wide weekly newsletter, sharing facts, discourse, and resources on racial equity, art by BIPOC, and suggestions for involvement.


We committed to finding a sustainable way to impact our local community. 

We’re so excited to partner with Berkshires-based organization Multicultural BRIDGE (Berkshire Resources for Integration of Diverse Groups Through Education), a grassroots organization based in Lee, MA dedicated to promoting mutual respect and understanding among diverse groups. This year, BRIDGE will be laying an educational foundation for the entire Blue Q staff through a series of Zoom cultural competency training sessions. 

In addition, last summer we asked everyone at Blue Q to contribute ideas for how we could get more involved locally. These wonderful ideas for community engagement included neighborhood beautification, educational opportunities for kids and adults, and reframing our donation strategies. While Covid makes these kinds of efforts a little more complicated, we’re laying groundwork where we can. And, when we can get out there safely, we’ll lean on our partners at BRIDGE to help us do this work with sensitivity and efficiency.

Hopefully that gives you a good idea of where we are now. We also have plans for incorporating social and racial justice efforts into our sales, marketing, and purchasing spaces, but the details of those efforts aren’t quite clear enough to share yet. Whatever those initiatives look like, they’ll build on Blue Q’s evergreen core value of empathy, which we hold so dear. 

And one last thing for now: the last eight months have totally reshaped the way we think about racial injustice, social justice, and inequity from so many different angles. We’ve put a lot of effort into making these commitments so far, but the harder work comes with keeping them. We realize that so much of the way we do or don’t participate in these efforts has to do with intention and awareness. We need to constantly keep our eyes on the ball, and promise to you that we will. 

Thanks a Bunch!

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Leave a comment! 

Love this! Always have loved your products but love this company even more knowing your stand on racial injustice. As a WOC I feel even prouder to tell people about your brand every time one of your bags, socks, etc I’ve bought gets complimented! Keep up the good work!!
Comment By: Karen2 weeks ago 
Love your bags. I purchased several zippered ones in Highlands NJ this week!! Your sock designs speak better than some of the profanity - would prefer a bit less. But have bought dog socks in the past and this week! Appreciate the empathy that guides your company and the self examination and reflection of how your employees can play a significant role in creating humanitarian behavior in our society. Thank you.
Comment By: Adrienne2 weeks ago 
Love your bags, hate your politics.
Comment By: Trudy6 months ago 
Comment By: Donna6 months ago 

Add Your Two Cents!

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