To reject a new client or not

01 - 02 - 2019

‘Would you be interested in delivering a program for store managers?’ one of my contacts asked me the other day. Sure! The specific program looked exciting and giving workshops for managers is something I enjoy very much.   


There was a but…


The true cost

These store managers happened to be working at a large fashion brand, as I found out, right after I saw the Netflix documentary ‘The true cost’. This shocking documentary shows the devastating polluting effects of the fashion industry, especially the brands who are known for their ‘affordable clothing’. Clothes that are being sold at low prices to us, whereas the true cost of these clothes are being paid on the other side of the world: by the workers - whose human rights are being violated - and by the environment.  



Now, I was facing a dilemma: I was confident I could deliver a good program for the store managers and I would love to help them grow in their managerial role. However, that would mean indirectly contributing to a polluting industry. And the environment happens to be something I care deeply about. So, should I stick to my values and say ‘no’ to this request? But how would my contact respond if I would do so? It’s a good relation and they provide me with other work as well. Would they think I had become arrogant? Too picky? Will they stop referring clients to me in the future? 

But what about that uneasy feeling I had in my stomach when thinking about accepting the job? (Is that where our conscious is located, by the way?) And if it turns out later that I could have used the income of this job that I had refused to take on? I would not just be rejecting one piece of work, but also a potentially large amount of future work for this client. On the one hand…, on the other hand… and what about… but… 

Wait! Stop!

Let’s try to focus on what is really important. 



About a year ago, I got interested in Minimalism. Which is not so much about living with as less stuff as you can manage, but more about making conscious choices. Choices concerning the things you buy, the things you own and what you value. Lately, I have been asking myself questions like ‘Do I really need a TV?’, ‘Will I ever use that badminton racket again?’, ‘Why would I hang on to those stuffed animals from my childhood?’, ‘What use are 12 oven dishes if I don’t like cooking?!’ ‘How happy will buying this extra shirt make me?’, ‘Do I have to accept free goodie bags?’, ’Why are so much things wrapped twice and where does all the plastic go?’ 

I started to look at shopping differently. Now, I only buy things that I need and/or that make me really happy (not the ‘shopping kick’ kind of happy, that wears off faster than you can unpack your bags). And I started to look at our society differently. At capitalism. And the impact it has on the environment. Buy, buy, buy means pollute, pollute, pollute. Means plastic ocean, means animals suffering, means people starving. 


No dilemma

Back to my dilemma. 

Which is not a dilemma anymore. 

Working for (this) fashion brand doesn’t feel right. The fashion industry motivates people to buy more and more. To buy stuff they don’t really need. I don’t like adding unnecessary stuff to the world, without taking the (environmental) effects into account. That does not fit the minimalist lifestyle I want to lead.

So, I rejected the potential client. Which wasn’t easy, but after I did it, I felt relieved. I even was a bit proud of myself for staying true to my principles and making this decision. My stomach felt better. And my contact? They responded with: “I completely understand your reasoning and massively respect you for keeping your morals.” So far, so good, phew. Let’s see how this plays out in the long term…


How about you?

Have you ever rejected a client? Because it didn’t feel right? Because working for them didn’t align with your values? 

I am looking forward to hearing your story!