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On 2 February 2022, ceramics maker East Fork raised prices for its mugs and 'everyday bowls' by USD 2 and made a point of announcing the increase to its customers. Why the bump from USD 38 to 40? To raise East Fork's minimum wage from USD 20 to USD 22 per hour.
As North Carolina-based East Fork explains: "We don't want our employees to leave Asheville because the cost of living here is high and only rising. We also don't want them to see their lives chipped away by things money wouldn't let them do: save for their future, buy a home, help a family member with bills, pursue passions outside of work instead of second (or third) jobs, maybe start a family someday. Breaking even shouldn't be the best our employees should hope for."
This wage increase isn't a one-off act of virtue signaling. From the moment it started expanding from a one-person pottery studio into a larger company, East Fork's founders decided to put their business in the service of their employees' financial and emotional security. The brand manufactures all of its pottery — which has a cult-like following — in Asheville and is committed to creating solid middle-class jobs within its community.
East Fork may have a headstart, but it's never too late to make equity a cornerstone of your business. What can your organization do to put people before profit? Is the well-being of your employees a marker for your brand's success?
And if you need convincing, check out customer response to East Fork's announcement :-)
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