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Highland ethical clothing brand “unplug” from social media

By Rachel Smart

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Clare Campbell, Prickly Thistle.
Clare Campbell, Prickly Thistle.

A Highland ethical clothing brand removed itself from social media in October 2022 to 'prioritise kindness and safety'. Three months later it has no regrets.

Based near Evanton, this was a bold move by Prickly Thistle, whose team believes and actively champions how businesses should put ‘people and planet before profits.’

Prickly Thistle founder and self-proclaimed rebel, Clare Campbell, felt compelled to re-think the company’s social media policy after seeing the detrimental impact social media can have on people’s mental health and went on to develop an anti-social media policy.

Clare explained: “We decided to officially rebel and unplug our social media presence in October after seeing so much negativity surrounding the effect it can have on people’s mental health. We’ve never been a brand that supported marketing tactics that, on payment, would push your brand in front of potential customers through targeted social media algorithms. And, even in a recession it doesn’t seem to stop these platforms openly allow businesses to target people with the latest deals based on their vulnerabilities most of the time.

“I just feel at the end of the day these platforms are proving they always put advertising revenue before the users mental health. It’s an awful lot of pressure for people to deal with, so we made the bold decision to be social in a more meaningful way. Being social is something we love, but we want to use platforms that prioritise kindness and safety, where the word ‘target’ shouldn’t even exist anywhere.”

In the weeks since dropping social media, Clare and her team of ‘rebels’ have found the change to be nothing but positive with many people getting in touch to say what they think about the move. Clare added: “Literally everyone I speak to wants to do it. I met a lady in Dundee who really liked our brand and said that she went to follow us on Instagram and then realised we’d unplugged. She said she loved us even more when she saw that.”

Prickly Thistle are now contactable purely via their website, email, phone or in person which has been a breath of fresh air for customers as well as the Prickly Thistle team.

“We appreciate that a lot of businesses have evolved where they have no other options and need to use social media to reach their customers", said Clare.

"This way of communicating and advertising has been growing at a staggering rate in the last five years. We absolutely benefitted from a global reach in the beginning of our journey, but these spaces seem to be causing more harm and distraction on a daily basis.

"We know these platforms are causing negative situations and the more we are on it the more we are encouraging others to be on them, increasing their time as targets.

“We asked ourselves is that really worth a potential ‘sale’? Put simply, the answer is definitely not."

Prickly Thistle, is also the first textiles mill and clothing manufacturer in the UK to become B Corp Certified. The accreditation is awarded to businesses that provide evidence to show how they are a force for good, benefitting society as a whole through social and environmental consciousness, and more importantly actions.

Clare said: "We will rebel until kinder, safer and clearer options arise, and in meantime we’ve gone back to the century old ways of communicating before the rise of the social scroll.

"Right now, more than ever, we all need to be more mindful of how people feel and remember that speaking to a customer in person or on the phone can be so much more meaningful. We hope our experience of unplugging might inspire a few others to take the leap. And who knows, maybe we’ll just create that new platform ourselves.”

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