We believe that supporting small sustainable businesses is now more important than ever. With corporate giants struggling or refusing to make big changes to their unsustainable environment damaging packaging and encouraging the over consumption of products we are seeing an increase in waste. Small businesses usually find it easier to adapt their business and make it more eco friendly in a shorter time frame. Here we present some of our favourite sustainable small business brands.
Ayten Dogan-Baydar from Holland is a coupes by profession and has a passion for making corsets, these range in size, from 6 cm to 100 cm. She enjoys many different types of craft such as making small furniture, crochet, and sewing clothing. Whilst her inspiration literally does come from everywhere, it is mainly from the things that I have made and can easily work on a corset for about 6 hours or more. She told us that she likes to create at her own pace and if something is not going well she will l leave it until inspiration strikes.
Aytens Brocante make soft plush teddies, jar cosies, baby nests, little blankets for babies, purses, puppets, and lots more. You can find more of their work on Instagram or on their website and everything featured is handmade.
Swazi Candles is a founding member of SWIFT (Swaziland Fair Trade Association) and are passionate about providing quality of life in the workplace for their employees. They were started in an old cowshed of a former dairy in 1982 by 2 South African art graduates, and the little workshop soon gained a reputation for producing unique candles and started attracting visitors.
The vibrancy of the workshop, uniqueness of the product and the skill of the artisans resulted in Swazi Candles becoming one of Swaziland’s premier tourist attractions. By the mid-nineties, the humble cowshed workshop had burgeoned into an industry that employed over 200 local people and exported candles all over the world.
The beautifully intricate designs of Swazi Candles use the ancient technique known as “millefiore” or, “thousand flowers” which first surfaced in Alexandria, but was perfected in the great glassmaking cities of Murano and Venice. Glass beads and other objects created there were of such beauty and finesse that they became much sought-after, valuable artefacts.
On the Africa coast, these Venetian trade beads were used as a form of currency to barter for gold and ivory. So popular did they prove that the North and West Africans came to make their own variation. Thus was born the African trade bead, rare and sought after by collectors to this day.
The art of millefiore continues in Swazi Candles. But instead of glass, the gifted candle makers of Swaziland use a special hard wax to create their colourful designs. The hard wax veneer forms the outer shell of the candle, which hardly melts when the candle is lit.
Hence the rich, romantic glow of the illuminated exterior as the candle burns deeper into the container lighting up the casing. The shells of the larger can still be used even after the original inside wax is gone when refitted with a votive or tea candle. You can find more information about Swazi Candles and their UK stockists at the Karakorum on Instagram at Karakorum_ethical_decor.
Hands & Soul handmade jewellery
The founder of Hands & Soul handmade furniture is Adriana Germanova from Nessebar, Bulgaria, which is situated on the Black sea coast. The company is called Hands & Soul and specialises in handmade jewellery such as polymer clay, gemstones, earrings, brooches, necklaces, bracelets, charms, key chains, and rings. They have a small community shop that is open only during the summer months when tourism is at its peak.
"I love everything about what I do. Especially, how the process starts off as a simplistic idea. Once I have started working on the project and I get to see the final result with the item being ready to use, it makes me feel great knowing that I have made it. My main inspirations come from the clients who I have worked with, that show an appreciation for my hard work, and understand my ideas. A lot of the colour that I use are inspired by nature and arts in general. I have been making jewellery for over 6 years now, however, I have only been working with polymer clay for around two years."
Polymer clay is a type of modelling clay and working with polymer clay requires technique. This involves making the shape and making sure to get it completely right. You can change the shape by using your hands and sometimes specialist instrument tools. When you are finished with your piece, it will then need to be baked and sometimes you may like to do a varnish afterwards to add vibrancy to the colour. Some clays are multi-coloured and occasionally I like to paint them myself.
The process cannot be explained very well due to the fact that it is very open to creativity, for example, I never make two that are the same. I like to experiment each time using slightly different techniques to create something that is desirable and unique. We also sell many products online and are active on Instagram.
26 Living skincare
"We are 26 Living, and this is where it all began. 26 is our door number. We are Patricia and Ricardo. We are based in Portugal, in a small village near Mafra which is close to Lisbon. We sell mostly alternative products to plastic. When it comes to skin and hair care. We sell solid shampoos, hair conditioners, shower gel bars, facial, body scrubs, creams, and body balms.
We also sell scented soy wax candles, aromatic sachets. We call it our homecare items. They are all-natural, plant-based, and organic using only sustainable ingredients. Most of our products are also vegan-friendly.
We’ve been doing this for a while now, first it was for our kids because they suffered from eczema, and then we had other family and friends requesting shampoo, moisturising creams and more recently we decided to try and spread the goodies! We thought that there are, probably, other families that could reduce plastic waste, and improve their skin at the same time.
It’s really comforting knowing that we are doing our part in reducing plastic waste and at the same time caring for my families’ skin and hair. It’s very rewarding to experiment with scents, colors, oils, and butter. I enjoy reading positive feedback from customers and it makes me happy when people also like our products.
We are inspired by nature. I believe that we are so lucky to live in a small village. Just outside our window, there are green mountains and blue skies. We live in the countryside and every morning we see goats crossing the street, eating acorns. We hear birds, bees, the wind, and the rain. Those are my biggest inspirations.
We also get inspired by our kids who have taught us to do better, to improve, to grow and to care. We plan every product first. Choosing the colours, scents, and oils that we want to use and then we visualize exactly how we want it to look. Then comes the fun part, we roll up our sleeves, put on an 80s music playlist and start creating!" The website is currently in the works but it is not ready yet. You can, however, head over to our Facebook page.
Nox Corvum – Handmade Wire Jewellery
The company name is Latin and translates to night ravens. They are located just outside of Buffalo, New York, USA. They have been creating handmade wire Jewellery for about six years. The pieces are made from copper and sterling silver. Along with some semi-precious and precious stones.
My work for me is similar to meditation as I find it very therapeutic and soothing. In fact, it doesn’t feel like work at all. I would say my inspirations reside with nature, however, I have always been drawn to Victorian and Renaissance styles. I love antiques and so my jewellery is an effort to combine all of those things together which usually wouldn’t typically mesh well, but they really do!
I like to think of them as instant heirlooms since even though they are brand-new, they appear to have a whole lot of history attached to them. Generally, my process begins with choosing the stone or cabochon. I will consider accent stones if necessary and from there I start to envision the finished piece and the style that I wanted to have sometimes that can be a mood was feeling as well.
Then I begin to create. I don’t draw a plan out any designs ahead time my preference is simply to let the piece flow naturally and come together in an organic way as if the wire has grown around stone rather than pushing the stone into a setting.
Head over to the Nox Corvum website to see the full collection of unique jewellery. There you will be able to browse our shop section, find out more about us and what our customers think. Contact us or sign up to our newsletter which will give you the chance to win our free pendant giveaway! We guarantee that you will find something of interest!
Tiny Little Cacti - Concrete Planters
I’m Michelle Ventura, I created Tiny Little Cacti. I am based in Orange County, California. My company has been established since 2017. I make concrete planters by hand. I paint each and every one of them.
All of my planters are made from 90% concrete and 10% sand blend. I use only the best quality of concrete and paint to give my customers only the best products. I am currently trying to broaden my line, this includes the addition of my wooden air plant hangers and concrete cactus magnets.
I love art, it has been a passion of mine since I was a child. This tiny business of mine is an art form. I get to create planters and paint them with designs I come up with! This always leads to an expression of my creativity which then helps create something stunning and truly unique.
Using everyday products as moulds, I start with using clean and reusable silicone moulds. Sifting each bath of concrete to pull all rocks out to make a smooth concrete finish. I then mix water and concrete powder to make a thick consistency and pour it into each silicone mould. After 2-3 weeks of curating and the soaking process, these planters are ready to be painted.
Each design is original and is carefully thought out during the planning process. We have various options available from minimalist plain styles to more intricate triangle shapes. Because we have so many design types, I can happily say that there is a planter for everyone!
The sleek concrete planter will be a nice addition to your modern home decor. New products will be added soon, as we discover new techniques and processes on our mission. I really enjoy putting each planter with its perfect green companion. To show my caring nature, on our website we have a dedicated section to help you keep your cactus healthy! They are available via our their Tiny Little Cacti website.
Baby Boutique From Asturias: Le Petit Popelin
My name is Cristina Santamarina, I am from Asturias, Spain. I started crafting a long time ago, at first it was crochet, and then knitting. I created my brand ‘Le Petit Popelin’, over a year ago. The reason I started my company is because of my love for baby clothing. I thought it would be nice, to craft unique baby clothes, exclusively for each baby, in different colors, and sizes.
Everything that is handmade, is always unique. I get inspired by other people’s interest and my own memories of what I have seen. I do like to improvise and craft new clothing types and colors. I really love what I do, and when customers send me pictures of there babies with the clothing that I had made, it is truly the best reward.
One of my favorite things is that when you craft for someone, and they wear your clothing, a piece of you goes with them. You make it, thinking of a baby wearing the product, for this reason, I always use cotton and wool for them, mainly because of their delicate skin, they should always have the best materials. Some of my work involves sewing too, this is because some types of clothing need it. I do everything, for the moment, working on my own. It is difficult because I am in charge of social media, website, relations, and crafting.
I would love to get to the point in our company and have the need to hire people, simply because I couldn’t do it all by myself. The process I go through with each product is very simple. People contact me, they choose model, size, and color, and I start the project. Making each bespoke piece to order, depending on the type of clothing it can take more or less time. Manufacturing times go from 10 days minimum up to 20 days maximum.
I would advise, that everyone should work for what they love doing the most, and try to make their dreams and goals. I have one, I would love to dress every baby in the world using only natural materials that are good for them. Follow on Instagram @lepetitpopelin or Facebook @lepetitpopelinshop
Sophie started Agnes LDN back in 2018 after trying to transition to a plastic-free lifestyle myself. Up until August 2019, this was just a passion project and she was still working full time.
Her products are designed to reduce the need for single-use plastic. Sourcing quality fabrics and sustainable ones such as Tencel, linen, and organic cotton.
She works with fashion brands using up their offcuts and tries to upcycle fabrics as much as possible. The business is about more than just the products though. A lot of time is dedicated to helping and inspiring people so that they can live a sustainable lifestyle.
Through a podcast, she shares the stories of other small sustainable brands and issues surrounding the environment and also hosts events throughout the year bringing together a panel of experts to discuss particular topics.
Sophie hosts upcycling workshops, teaching people how to sew and turn their unwanted garments into something new and useful. Agnes recently launched a youtube channel to help build on this by sharing sewing and DIY videos.
Agnes LDN sustainability & Inspirations
Living a sustainable life and caring about the environment is so much more than just tackling one issue such as single-use plastic. Sophie tries to reflect this through her brand and share as much as one person can. She is inspired by everyday life and the goal to make sustainable living as accessible as possible.
On social media, she follows a range of creative people; from potters, and basket weavers to illustrators who are always inspirational. She believes that the very goal of reducing waste causes you to get creative, whether that's finding innovative ways to use up fabric scraps or finding new ways to use up leftover food in the kitchen.
When it comes to making, she says: “I start with an idea for a product. Then I either look around fabric shops or use up old materials. After creating the first sample or prototype. I then trial that product for a few months myself to make sure it works and is up to the standard. Then I make 1 or 2 more and add it to my web store. All my products are handmade to order so hopefully I never have the issue of excess unwanted stock.”
As the business grows Sophie wants Agnes LDN to be a brand that leads by example and constantly puts planet and people first.
She currently works on the business alone but is excited to bring other people on board. Agnes is committed to being able to give back more as well, in 2019, thirty trees were planted through sales of their scrunchies made from scraps, and this year she is aiming to hit 100.
Prickly Pear Creative
I’m Amanda Darling, the founder of ‘Prickly Pear Creative’. I do various things all based on plants and Nature such as cacti and succulent arrangements, that are mainly in unusual, quirky one-off vessel containers sourced at Antique fairs and flea markets.
I do small Acrylic abstract landscape paintings and one of my most popular items are my Log slices and wooden plaques that I do nature-based pin art on. Art is my passion so it has been my therapy and I am determined to make a living out of it and not get dragged back into the corporate world.
All of my work is inspired by nature and my love of being outdoors. I get out and about as often as I can whether it be up to the Northumberland coast or countryside and I always carry my camera to capture my surroundings.
What I love about our coastline and surrounding areas is no matter how many times you visit somewhere you can always capture something new and something different. This is where I take the inspiration for my paintings from, I love to work with texture and mainly do landscape-inspired abstract work.
My other love is Gardening and if I'm at a loose end, a Nursery or Garden center is where you will always find me; either that or the local charity shop scouring for something to plant. My particular passion is for succulents and shopping for Antiques and vintage items are where i got the idea to combine both to breath new life into something old whilst bringing nature into the home.
My favorite thing I enjoy doing the most asides my work is going on a road trip. Whether it be planned, unplanned for a day or more; there really is nothing better than jumping in the car, packing a few goodies for the journey, a picnic blanket, a good playlist, good company and of course my camera.
I tend to head north, as a rule, there's so much to see and explore in and around Northumberland, however, if I have the luxury of more than a day trip then it will always be the Scottish borders and the West coast of Scotland. Such a stunning coastline with many places still on my list to explore.
I come from a very creative family so I've been drawing and crafting since I was a young child, something I used to do with my mother as she was very much into arts and Crafts back then. I knew I wanted a creative career at an early age with a dream to be a window dresser. A dream I achieved at the age of 18 after Art college which then led to many different Roles within the Design industry, mainly Retail. I've always continued to draw and paint in my spare time with the big dream being a career focusing solely on my work.
Last year my circumstances changed and I was able to focus more on this which has led me to where I am today. I love what I do and I love sharing what I do with others, with the introduction of workshops hopefully later this year I will finally be living the dream.
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