Tianah: the new film making the human case for capitalism

Conservative free-marketeers tend to struggle at doing emotion. We have a convincing case for sure, but we don’t always communicate it on a human level. All too often we rely on statistics and spreadsheets, powerful tools no doubt, but hardly sufficient secure public support for our policies. Socialists tend to be the other way around. Their ideas may be poor, but the presentation is excellent. They have managed to convince a substantial section of public opinion that they are caring whilst their opponents are not, that opposition to their programme is driven almost exclusively by narrow self-interest. Often this is done by putting a human face to their policies, and more often to the perceived failings of capitalism.

Tianah, a new short film from Sophie Sandor, formerly editor of The Backbencher, seeks to address this imbalance. It tells the story of Christianah Jones, a 23-year old fashion entrepreneur from London. Christianah doesn’t come from money. Instead she started doing up and selling clothes in her spare time whilst working as a recruitment consultant, having just graduated from university with a psychology degree. Initially her plan was to “sell clothes that I didn’t like wearing again, so I could get some more clothes, and keep doing that” but before long “I was making more money [selling clothes] than I was getting paid in my job so that’s when I realised that I was good enough for me to quit, so I quit”.

After this Christianah setup a pop-up on Brick Lane “selling vintage clothing like shoes, accessories, pieces of clothing for men and women”. She found a warehouse in a village where everything was “just ridiculously cheap” and would “go there and grab a whole bunch of stuff, fix it up, make it look good, and just sell it out”. Christianah went on to establish fashion lines Jollof Rice and Slim Shady sunglasses. As her business expanded she started employing a studio manager, and her clothes are now stocked in London, New York, LA, Paris, Hong Kong and Seoul.

Christianah is clear that the profit motive has been an integral part of her success. She asserts that “if profit was banned in this world, only the well off could live. Only the wealthy, the rich, could live”. More generally “the things we have access to are from companies that are profit-makers. You know the very things that we use and we like and we enjoy come from profit making companies”. She is confident that more people can, and indeed are, going down the same direction stating “people are having more courage, more confidence, to just do something new or open something, open up their own business and just kind of make their money from there. Anyone can make money these days, anyone”.

What’s important about Christianah’s story is that it’s indicative of thousands of others across the UK, and millions worldwide, though I feel its more powerful for being so specific. It shows how free markets and the profit motive lead individuals to create self-sustaining companies, which in turn provide others with employment and their customers with goods they desire. This is the key to capitalism’s inherently flexible and innovative nature, in contrast to the in-elasticity of socialism. By focusing on one individual Tinah humanises this process, in a way that pro-market media often fails to do. It would be good to see more free marketeers going down this route.

The full film can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/265118946


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