tonlé pay-what-you-can sale event

As we go into 2020 – we’ve been thinking about our pricing and transparency. We’ve seen a few other brands host pay-what-you-can sale events and we felt this was a great way to explore the idea of “fair” pricing.

Before we get started - if you choose to participate in this sale - please do read this post entirely so you understand our discount tiers. (please and thank you!)

When we try to figure out what a fair price is – we’re usually considering the needs and desires of our makers and how we can fulfill those in what we make. Providing fair wages and benefits to all of our team both in the US and in Cambodia and building a sustainable business model around that is the framework for how we create our pricing. At the same time – there are many reasons from a customer’s perspective that a price might not be “fair” as our customers come from many backgrounds with different levels of access and ability. For our pay-what-you-can event – we’re hoping to provide some transparency around pricing and we hope that you, our customers and supporters, also take this as an opportunity to consider your own abilities, access, and needs when choosing what price you’re able to pay, how that relates and compares to those of the tonlé team, and understand what the price that you’re paying is covering.

We’ve always tried to provide our clothing at accessible pricing – which we can do to a certain extent because we are vertically integrated and because we use remnant fabrics, which are a bit more affordable then new fabrics, and it allows us to pay our makers a higher rate while at the same time keeping our prices lower compared to many ethical fashion brands. But – as our costs are going up we have to find ways to increase our sales or increase our pricing to ensure long term sustainability for tonlé. Because all of our team are on our payroll (as opposed to many brands who have a manufacturer do their production) we pay people even if we do not make enough sales. We also do not outsource our accounting, customer service, and shipping – again those are done in house by full-time employees. That includes not only the tonlé makers – but the people who work in our US office who oversee operations, finance, shipping, customer service, sales and marketing. All of these functions are essential to running the business to make sure we can keep up with demand and keep everything running. It’s fair to say that our fixed costs (ie the amount of costs we pay every month regardless of how much we sell) are much higher (percentage wise) than most brands. In many ways, most business consultants would tell you this is riskier, but for us – it’s incredibly important that our team have solid and dependable jobs.


To cover our costs and ensure long term sustainability – we’re going to have to increase our pricing or sales volume, or both. At the same time, we also want to respect that many of our customers don’t want to or need to purchase new clothing, and we also don’t want to be pushing clothes on people that the world doesn’t need.

One of the ways in which we have been thinking about taking our business is to add additional services and business – which could help to support us financially without creating pressure to grow fast and unsustainably. Additionally, we know that some of our customers are financially less privileged and are unable to financially support tonlé although they might want to. Which is why we decided to do this pay-what-you-can sale event. If you are a customer who has found our prices to be difficult relative to your own salary and ability – we hope you’ll see one of the higher discount levels as a way to support our work and our people while at the same time getting something you’ll love at a very affordable price point! If you’re a customer who has had more privilege relative to our team and has a bit more income to work with, we hope that knowing what you are paying for will help encourage you to choose to pay full price or one of the lower discount tiers – as the full price is really what we need to earn to truly build a sustainable business and help keep our pricing affordable for those with less access.  


Without further ado here is a breakdown of our pricing, what it covers:

  • Full price – Covers the full cost and overhead and helps us pay back existing debts, as well as save money for future seasons when our sales may be slow again. The full price of our clothing is truly what we need to create a sustainable business model to exist into the future. It is not at this time producing any profit.
  • 15% off – Covers the cost of the product and our US salaries (shipping, customer service, marketing, web design and management, accounting, photography) use the Discount code: *tonlePWYC15*
  • 30% off Covers the cost of making the product and our Cambodian overhead (local management salaries, pattern making, clothing design, and quality control. Discount code:  *tonlePWYC30*
  • 50% off – only covers the cost of making the product (maker’s time, fabrics, and shipping) Discount code: *tonlePWYC50*

To participate in this sale, head over to our PWYC page, and use the appropriate discount code at checkout.


A few quick notes:


  • Discount codes and sample sale products go live on January 19th, 4 pm PST.
  • PWYC discounts are only available for the items on the PWYC page and do not apply to everything on our site. The PWYC discount will be applied to the items in your cart for this section.
  • Sample items usually only have one, so we encourage you to check out quickly with these items – as someone may have added it to their cart as well. Some of the items in the sample section will be going into production but some our one of a kind items!
  • Because of the fast nature of the sample sale – our response times to questions on the samples will likely not be immediate – please be patient with us as we have just one person working on customer service. Our normal response time is 24 hours.


A finally – thank you to everyone for taking the time to read our thoughts and for supporting our work in so many ways! 

with much gratitude from the tonlé team members who helped organize and put this sale together, and the entire team! 

 - Rae, Sreyoun, Ariana, who are pictured below, Rachel, and Nicole


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