Sliding Scale Day - Not a Sale

An experiment in economic justice

Next Sliding Scale Day - September 12-15, 2024

Sliding Scale Day at a Glance - Mae Botanicals

What is Sliding Scale?

Sliding scale is a route to economic justice or a means to increase access to products or services. Tending to your skin and connecting to yourself is not just for people with privilege. Sliding scale is a form of community care and one way that we can care for each other in tangible ways. When you purchase a Garden Support Sticker you are helping me cover the costs of offering discounts. When you purchase at regular price, you are helping me run this business. And when you take the appropriate discount, you are allowing community to hold and support you.

How do we do Sliding Scale Day?

For sliding scale to function, there must be trust, respect, accountability, and the ability to hold complexity. I am not asking for income or other verification as I trust you to be honest about where you fall on the sliding scale. Remember this is not a sale; this is an opportunity to accurately assess where you hold power within systems of harm.

Economic Justice

This experiment in Economic Justice is a way to dismantle traditional ideas of business. If we truly want to dismantle capitalism and other systems of harm, we must also dream and practice new systems of liberation and interdependence. Sliding Scale Day here at Mae Botanicals is a move toward implementing my values by experimenting with new economic systems. If you want to read more about my values check out these blogs here and here.

More on Trust

I have been offering sliding scale in my medical practice for the last 4 years and I have really enjoyed the expansiveness and access that is created using this system. My work as a medical practitioner is deeply intimate; the 1:1  work I do with patients creates deep relationship and trust. I know that my patients are paying what they can honestly afford. This system works for my business. There is distribution across all the levels of the sliding scale that allows me to continue making this offering. Because of the success of sliding scale in my medical practice, I am excited to extend a parallel framework to Mae Botanicals. However, it is riskier.

The Risk of Sliding Scale Online

The risk with online based product business is that the relationship is a little more loose, there is no personal interaction, you do not see me once a week, and thus a larger portion of trust is required to believe that you will not take advantage of me and simply take the 40% off discount, regardless of your financial resources. A larger portion of trust is required of you as well - to trust that your generosity will go to people who need it, to trust that your needs matter and that strangers will be generous. Trust that it's okay to take the discount you take, trust that enough people will show up at each level to make it possible to do this again. So let's trust each other and experiment in alternate economies together!

What is the Difference between a Sliding Scale and a Sale?

As mentioned before, Sliding Scale is a route to creating economic justice; it is a way to move toward reciprocal relationship. Sales often feel like we’re getting the best deals, but in reality there’s an unacknowledged layer of exploitation. Capitalism is not the same as money or commerce; capitalism is a system based on hierarchy and exploitation of people and resources. When we are just searching for the lowest price, or the best deal, there is exploitation happening somewhere along the line, whether someone isn't getting paid fairly for their labor, or resources are being extracted at an unsustainable rate. Unfortunately as a small business the one that most often gets exploited during a sale is me, the maker and sole employee. I have put in a lot of time and created many spreadsheets to accurately calculate the pricing of these products. I deserve to be compensated fairly for my work and labor, and you, the consumer, deserve opportunities to recognize the multiple realities of economic access and privilege and pay what you are able within those systems.

What are you paying for?

There is a lot of labor that goes into creating each of these products. Growing the plants, the time to maintain the website, researching packaging, all the little costs add up over time. I also spend a little more money on some of my raw materials because it is important to me to support the Black woman-owned co-op where I get my shea butter, to purchase from the local beeswax lady, and to purchase recycled fiber boxes. I am always looking for the least harmful option, not just the cheapest option.

So, which tier do you fall into? 

I really appreciate the Green Bottle Model made by Worts and Cunning and I have modified and added to this model for this Sliding Scale Day.

Here are the 3 tiers for Sliding Scale Day

You are a Garden Supporter if you can say:

  • I am able to meet all of my basic* needs
  • I have access to or have benefited from generational wealth
  • I have access to multiple privileged identities **
  • I own my home or property OR I rent a higher-end property
  • I have easy access to transportation, I regularly use a car
  • I am employed or do not need to work to meet my needs
  • I have regular access to health care
  • I have a savings or investment account
  • I have an expendable*** income
  • I can always buy new items
  • I have access to sick leave and vacation time. 

If you fall into this category please purchase items at regular price AND purchase a Garden Supporters Sticker for $5, $10, $20, or $50. The more you fall into this category the higher the price of the sticker you should purchase. For example, if you meet 8 of the bullet points, purchase a $10 sticker; if you meet 11 bullet points purchase a $50 sticker etc. 

You are a Garden Sustainer if you can say:

  • I regularly meet all my basic* needs, though there may be occasional times where I hold off on a necessary purchase until next pay period.
  • I have access to or have benefited from generational wealth
  • I have one or more privileged identities **
  • I have easy access to transportation
  • I am employed
  • I have access to health care, though there may be small challenges
  • I have access to savings though it may be less than needed
  • I have some expendable*** income
  • I am able to buy mostly new items
  • I can take a vacation annually or every few years without financial burden
  • I have the ability to take sick leave or time off without excess burden

If you fall into this category, please purchase items at regular price.

You are Garden Supported if you can say:

  • I frequently can not meet my basic* needs 
  • I do not have access to or have not benefited from generational wealth
  • I have one or more marginalized identity **
  • I have inconsistent access to transportation
  • I am employed at or near minimum wage, I am underemployed
  • Accessing healthcare is a challenge
  • I have no savings
  • I have no expendable income or limited expendable income ***
  • I rarely buy new items as I cannot afford them
  • I cannot afford a vacation or have the ability to take time off without financial burden
  • I do not have access to sick leave or paid vacation

If you fall into this category please purchase items using one of the discount codes. The more you fall into this category the larger the discount you should take. For example, if you meet 8 of the bullet points take the 20% code or if you meet all 11 bullet points and have multiple marginalized identities take the 40% code. 

* Basic Needs: includes food, housing, health care, and transportation.

** Privileged/Marginalized Identity: we all have multiple identities, some are visible and some are internalized. Some examples of identity are gender, sexual orientation, disability, education level, race, ethnicity, neurodiversity, and socioeconomic status. And within systems of harm (kyriarchy) some identities hold more power than others; this looks like white privilege, cis het privilege, or neurotypical privilege to name just a few. 

*** Expendable Income: things that are not included in basic needs, i.e. you can buy an extra coffee at a shop without thinking, go out to dinner or drinks, go to the movies or a concert, buy new clothes, books, and similar items each month, etc.


While a single day of sliding scale for a small local skincare brand will not take down the large system and structures of kyriarchy, this is one small way to experiment with new systems and to practice living differently. This is one small way to start to dismantle these systems and to call forward liberation for all of us. 

So join me to Find Your Ritual 

Love you, 

Dr Kari


Additional Resources

More on Sliding Scale

Ride Free Fear Less Money

Green Bottle Model 


Other Reading or Listening:

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack - McIntosh

The Black Doula Podcast - Capitalism featuring Bear Herbert

White Supremacy Culture - Okun

For the Wild Podcast featuring Alok

Fearing the Black Body - Strings

Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale - Mies

Consumed - Barber