Christmas is just around the corner again which means we are back hitting the shops and spending our hard earned money on the perfect Christmas gift for our loved ones! As much as I love this act of kindness from people (I understand the giving of gifts is a special part of the day for most.) Many of us will spend our money in big chain shops that truly rake in millions upon millions of pounds over the Christmas period. I would love to stir the pot a little differently this year and only focus my attention on smaller businesses that also give back to the world. I want to equally focus my attention on brands that are fully sustainable in their business approach. The amount of waste that is created over the holiday season is astonishing and avoidable! Because of these reasons previously mentioned I wanted to create a list to share with you; including some of my favourite brands that I have researched and subsequently fallen in love with. Every single one of these brands has a very special quality about them which has made me want to share them with you. This includes being environmentally friendly, working as a small independent business and also the giving back aspect.
I am a sucker for small brands, good branding and a great brand message. I am also excited to delve into these ten truly unique and wonderful brands that will hopefully inspire you to support smaller businesses over the Christmas period (and into the future).
Rudiandbear have a range of traditional wooden toys along side Ned the Robot (how bloomin’ CUTE is Ned the Robot everybody?). They have been designed and created by Jazz, a mother based in Cornwall. Crafted using the finest Oak, Walnut or Pine, these toys are completely sustainable with the intent to outlast the plastic alternatives as well as providing hours of entertainment for your child. Each toy has been hand made and painted by Jazz and is fully CE tested meeting all health and safety requirements. These wonderful toys deserved to be celebrated and loved.
Kenana blew me away: first with their gorgeous knitted toys and secondly with their ethos. Kenana Knitters is all about empowering over 500 rural Kenyan women. 300 women knit the beautiful toys while 200 spinners hand spin the wool into yarn using recycled bicycle wheels made into spinning wheels. (Just incredible, right?). The brand is committed to providing work for the local women so they can improve the quality of their own lives and their extended families. Each toy is made from organic products which are environmentally friendly and dyed using natural plant dyes from plants grown in the area. Every aspect of this brand just fills me with joy, not forgetting to mention just how gorgeous they are!
YesBebe was started by a husband and wife in their home when their first daughter was 11 months old. They have a huge passion for the environment, which led to them expanding this passion into the development of toys that all embody sustainability along side education. The brand now has a team of eight mums and dads ‘that all share a love of nurturing children; both in play and education’.
Lila Rose Clothing is really worth a look. I found this very talented lady one evening while I was trawling through instagram looking for inspiration. Unsurprisingly, she stood out to me a lot! Her beautifully hand made dolls are all made using locally sourced reclaimed wool or clothing. She is also very talented at up-cycling clothing if you wanted to dig a little bit more into what she does.
Cuddle and Kind … Adorable! Cuddle and Kind is a family run business, started by a mother and father with their three children. Their ethos is to help the devastating reality of childhood hunger around the world. They created these beautiful hand-knit dolls to help feed children. For every doll sold 10 meals go to children that are in need. The dolls are all natural cotton and handcrafted by women in Peru; giving them a sustainable, fair trade income. The entire, heartfelt, thought process of this wonderful brand inspires me so much, and, let’s face it, the dolls are out of this world!
6. Wobbel Board
The Wobbel Board! This brilliant imaginative toy is designed to stimulate balance and strength, as well as nurture creativity! It’s a toy that will keep on giving, especially as your child will keep finding new uses for the Wobbel. You can go extra flashy (if you wish) and have your Wobbel Board custom made with different colours, or even your very own logo! They are completely sustainable, of course, using only natural wood and felt! I love simple ideas like this, especially when imaginative play is encouraged.
31 Bits! I-Love-This-Brand! I just can’t get enough of how wonderful this brand is. Started by a group of young women, fresh out of college, they wanted to create a brand that gave dignified job opportunities to women in Uganda. They were inspired by a trip to Uganda, where they met women their age: single women, with no jobs and no education, that were forced to have a life surrounded by war which left them with nothing. They saw the women making beautiful jewellery out of old posters and were astounded by their skills and resourcefulness. Fast forward to present day and you’ll find 31 B its! The primary focus of the brand is to create a business where everyone in the supply chain is treated fairly. Their philosophy states ‘Everything you buy either has a positive or negative impact in the world.’ I couldn’t agree with that more. They supply an adult range but also produce the most beautiful kids jewellery. I especially love the bead kits where your child can make their own fabulous pieces. This is how business should be done.
8. Krochet Kids
Krochet Kids gives back in a big way! The founders are three best friends. They became aware about people in Uganda who had been living in government camps for over 20 years due to the ravages of civil war. They saw entire generations that had only ever known life in the camp. Growing up the friends had always crocheted their own ski hats and realised the simplicity of crocheting, using just a hook and yarn, which can produce the most amazing products. Krochet Kids was born. It’s mission was to make an impact to the people who had suffered so much in Uganda. They provide them with job opportunities using anti-poverty wages so their circumstances could improve. When you purchase from this company you will also receive a hand written note from the person who has made your item, with a chance for you to visit their online profile to find out more about them. What a gorgeous idea, and what gorgeous products!
9. Green Toys
Green Toys are leading the way in doing what a lot of us are trying to achive – lower the amount of plastic we purchase. This brand has a brilliant solution and created the most wonderful 100% recycled toys made from recycled milk jugs. When purchase your item you will see just how many milk jugs have gone into making your toy. They have a huge focus on the environmental impact, even the ink used on the boxes is made from soy ink (derived from soy beans) which is a natural, renewable resource. I was amazed and so blown away with how this company have thought of every aspect of their environmental impact; through the entire manufacturing supply chain to the delivery to your front door. The toys are superb and we must support more innovative companies like this!
10. Along Came Ollie
Along Came Ollie is the brain child of a very talented women based in Woking, Uk. A mother herself, she has created special, eco friendly, non toxic wooden toys. Each toy is fully sustainable and has the most charming ‘made with love’ element to them. The craftsmanship that goes into each toy is truly astounding. Her selection of toys range from trucks to baby rattles. How can you possibly go wrong when getting this as a gift for a little baby or toddler? I love celebrating talent like this, and feel that we should all support it more.
So there you have it. My list of ten truly remarkable, one of a kind brands that give back in so many ways.
It’s so important that we support businesses that have bravely chosen to go against the grain of the multi national industry that for far too long has only concentrated on making the rich man richer. We are all responsible for educating a new generation of people who are not only going to shop but have a responsibility to protect our planet. The retail industry over Christmas makes billions of pounds. Let’s not keep on funding the big chain retailers that exploit so many lives. Let’s instead spend our money on products that will protect our environment and will truly make a difference to the people behind. We don’t have to continue shopping the way we have, sometimes it’s better to swim against the tide. Little changes make a huge difference.
Enjoy the adventure of looking out for remarkable small brands that do big things, you will be surprised with what you find. Have a brilliant Christmas everybody!