Co-founder of, Raquel is on a mission to live a more sustainable lifestyle

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

It is estimated that Kenya uses 24 million plastic bags every month, half of which are poorly disposed of and end up in roadsides and illegally made dumping sites.  However, just this week Kenya became the latest African nation to ban plastic bags, which applies to product, import and use.

It's a huge step for Kenya to curb plastic pollution, the UN Environment estimates that 100 million plastic bags are handed out every year in Kenya by supermarkets alone. (source)

Watch the video below via ATTN >>

Saturday, 18 March 2017

This week we spoke with Know The Origin, a cool and affordable ethical clothing brand. Making everyday basics like hoodies and organic cotton tops, Know The Origin are giving the high street a run for their money. We chatted with Charlotte about what manufacturing means to them and whether ethical fashion can ever really be affordable and attainable.

Q. Tell us a bit about Know The Origin

Know The Origin is an ethical fashion brand based in London. We create clothing that is stylish and affordable whilst being fully Fairtrade and organic from seed to garment! We ensure that the people involved in producing every garment has been treated with dignity, paid fairly and valued for their work. There is 5 of us on the dream team myself (Charlotte), Rosie, Josephine, Ollie and Molly! We are essentially just a bunch of overly eager, social justice fans who want to share that with the world, in the form of beautiful products.

Q. How did it all start?

During my Fashion Buying and Merchandising degree at the London College of Fashion I was learning how to make clothing, from drawing to shop floor. Yet I had never stopped and asked myself those important questions on who was making the clothes that we were producing. Then in 2013 Rana Plaza, a factory in Bangladesh, collapsed. It was a physical symbol of how the fashion industry was holding profit above everything else. I didn’t want to be a part of that. Know The Origin was born out of the desire to do what I love but also support amazing producers along the way that wanted to create positive change in the fashion industry.

Q. Your entire brand is traceable in terms of manufacturing, how important was this to you before launching your brand?

Very! We started with the name - as a test of whether we could actually do it. Make affordable, fully ethical cool clothing. It’s definitely been a learning curve. As I researched and saw for myself how to make fashion ethical I realised that it is so important to be traceable at every stage. There's so much work and awesomeness in each stage - it would suck not to know and appreciate who grew the cotton, spun the thread and dyed the garment.

How can you claim to be ethical when you don’t know who is doing each process. Now we are a stage where I have personally met every producer group in our supply chain. It’s these relationships that make Know The Origin what it is.

Q. In your opinion can ethical fashion ever be affordable?

Definitely! Know The Origin is all about affordable fun ethical fashion. The reputation that ethical fashion is currently that its expensive, weird or unfashionable. That is what we want to challenge. There is definitely a cost to make a garment whilst ensuring that every worker is treated with respect, and this is higher than what fast fashion prices lead us to believe. However, this doesn’t mean ethical fashion should be an unaffordable luxury but instead the standard across high street.

Q. How important do you think Ethical fashion is to the future of consumerism?

I think ethical fashion is the future of consumerism! It is has been so encouraging to see how more and more people are take control of their purchasing power and asking questions like who made my clothes? Is clothing really disposable, when there are so many other environmental costs? For example, it takes 2,700L to make one t-shirt.

Consumerism as we know it can’t continue. The impact on the environment and communities is showing us that. Ethical fashion is a way of shifting consumerism to being sustainable. Empowering customers to make decisions that value clothing and the people that produce them.

Q. What is your favourite piece from your latest collection and what’s your advice on dressing this up/down for a day-night look?

I personally love the Black Cropped Sleeve Sweater! It is so soft and cool that even with a pair of jeans it looks stylish. The clean shape of it also makes it a great evening look that matches with almost every smart pair of trousers or skirt. I pretty much wear it most days, not going to lie!

To read more about the brand or to view their entire collection please click HERE

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

One thing is for sure by the time mother's day rolls around, it's usually a week or two after my mum's birthday and I am totally stuck on what to buy her. I think nothing goes down better than a lovely personalised gift for your mum. Personalised gifts are always more meaningful, they're obviously handmade especially for the recipient and I you know the recipient will be able to keep it for years to come as their special keepsake gift.

It doesn't matter who you decide to celebrate this mother's day, whether it's your nan, or your step-mum or even your big sister who's always been there for you when you were growing up. I think occasions like these are important ways to tell someone who's played a big part in your life how much they mean to you.

Below are a few of my favourite personalised gift ideas for you mum, your step mum, your gran or just for that mother figure in your life who deserves to be celebrated and thanks.

(Please note above title image features our build your own eco bath set - cruelty free spa gift set which you can buy here)

'Home is where the Heart is' Personalised Papercut

Personalised pet dog portrait with name

Personalised Handmade Leather Card Holders

Original Personalised Family Tree Papercut

Shea Butter Vegan Bath Bomb Gift Set with Personalised Box

Personalised Name Fern Pattern Mug

Handmade Personalised Zodiac Women's Necklace

Thanks Mum, Personalised Wall Art


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Today I'm bringing you a little interview I had with Holly O'Boyle about her brand Rock On Ruby. A treasure trove of slogan tees mixed and matched with perfectly quirky illustrations, I think Rock On Ruby is just what the ethical fashion world needs.

So put your feet up and have a read about where it all began for Holly and what makes them stand out from the unethical high street offerings. 

Q. Tell us a bit about Rock On Ruby

Rock On Ruby is a Manchester based brand set up in 2014 by Fashion blogger, Holly O'Boyle. The range started with just ladies Tshirts and has now grown to include a variety of clothing and accessory items. We now have a small team that is involved in all aspects of designing, making, shipping and selling our items.

Q. Why did you start your brand?

Rock On Ruby was set up to allow girls to put their own unique stamp on what they wear. We're taking 'Statement' clothing to the next level! As a family business, we'd been printing clothing for years but mainly for Hen Parties and groups. We could see that girls still wanted to look good in their party tops and these were increasingly looking for items that they would wear again. We started to introduce some sassy slogans into our range, and from there, ROR grew!

Q. What makes your clothing different to what we see on the high street?

As all our items are printed in-house, we can experiment a lot more with our designs and are very quick at getting on-trend slogans to market. We focus a lot on the personalisation aspect of our company, which allows customers to add their name or quote of choice onto an item. This makes for great gifts and adds a really personal touch to our offering.

Q. When you joined us over at you changed to more ethical based garments. How was that change and did it have any effect on your business?

It was really interesting to talk to you about what you were looking for and how just a few small changes could make our range 'ethically made'. Some of our items were already organic or fairwear but we didn't realise this - or that people were actively searching for this kind of product. It's great that we can now use this as another positive selling point and raise awareness of the importance of buying ethically made items. We also switched to a new sweater supplier and were really pleased with the quality of the tops. We now use these for all our tops where possible and there is no extra cost to the consumer.

Q. You have some really awesome slogans, I still LOVE the ‘Not My Gumdrop Buttons’ sweater. What inspires you when coming up with your creations?

Haha! Yes, we love this one too. We have regular brainstorms - not just within our team but with family & friends. It's amazing how one flippant remark or silly idea can lead to a bestselling product or entire range. We are also lucky to have Dom & Ink as our In-house designer. Dom is the mastermind behind the Gumdrop buttons sweater and adds quirky illustrations to our slogans.

For more info about the brand or to shop from their entire collection view Rock On Ruby's shop HERE

Sunday, 5 March 2017

I am a great advocate of natural skincare. Having suffered from acne for many years in my late teens and after the prescribed tablets and greasy creams left me worse than I had started, I sought out natural alternatives.

Naturally, I am always keen to hear of new brands changing the way we view our skincare regime and making a real shift in customers attitudes. None more so than Melanie Blane, founder of White Rabbit Skincare. I was lucky enough to interview Melanie and hear more about the ethics behind her brand, her own trauma of a teenage skin condition and the real reason you shouldn't shy away from natural plant based ingredients. 

Q. Tell us a bit about White Rabbit Skincare

White Rabbit Skincare is a luxury skincare brand, created to address the need for high performance but naturally based skincare products. Our range stands out as 100% vegan and cruelty free, certified by PETA, and all our products are carefully made in small batches, in our unit in Ayrshire, Scotland, to ensure the highest quality and freshness.

We are also deeply passionate about the environment and encouraging others to live a greener lifestyle - hence why most of our packaging is recycled/recyclable.

"100% vegan and cruelty free, certified by PETA"

Q. Why did you start your brand?
I was diagnosed with psoriasis as a teenager (after an initial misdiagnosis of Scabies...!), and didn't want to use steroid creams as prescribed by the doctors - psoriasis is often a hereditary and stress-induced skin condition, so even if these creams were effective (minus all the negatives), they aren't going to cure it. Moreover, said creams are completely packed with chemicals (fun fact: your skin absorbs 60% of what you put onto it into your bloodstream!) and more often than not are tested on animals.

I decided to start using natural products such as coconut oil and shea butter on my skin and did notice a remarked difference in the symptoms (dryness, itching, sore skin). I then bought a little 'Make your own skincare' book, and started making my own products, such as lip balm, body butter and so on - what better way to guarantee the origins of a product and what it contains than to make it yourself?  People started to take an interest in my products, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Q. What does ‘Cruelty Free’ actually mean and why is this important to you as a brand?
To me, Cruelty Free means that the ingredients and products themselves are not only not tested on animals, but also free from any animal-derived ingredients (beeswax, lanolin etc) - basically, animals are completely removed from the entire equation!  There are so many plant-derived ingredients out there that are astoundingly effective that I can't fathom why animal ingredients need to be involved in the beauty industry at all nowadays.

Q. Using only plant-based ingredients your products are also suitable for vegans, how important was this to you when launching your brand?

Very - because not only did I want my brand to align with my own beliefs, but I wanted to make our products available to everyone, as well as helping promote the benefits of plant-based skincare to those who perhaps might not have considered it previously.

Q. Why should people consider using natural ingredients over the high street options?
As I mentioned earlier, 60% of what you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream - if this isn't a good reason to use products containing natural ingredients, I don't know what is!

Too often products sold on the highstreet claim to contain natural ingredients but these are usually in the minority in amongst a load of filler/chemical ingredients and artificial fragrances and colours. A handy tip for reviewing the ingredients in a product is to check how the ingredients are listed: the majority ingredient will be listed first, with the least used ingredient listed last (so in our products, this would be essential oil, as we only need to use a few drops in each product).

Q. What’s your top skincare tip?
Double cleanse! Especially if you wear a lot of makeup. The first step is to remove makeup with a gentle oil cleanser or micellar water designed for makeup removal, then follow up with a cleanser for soothing, rejuvenating effects, such as a cleansing balm. Voila, naturally glowy, cleansed skin!

To read more about the brand or view the entire White Rabbit Skincare collection click HERE

Thursday, 2 March 2017

With today being World Book Day I wanted to share this beautiful story I came across via AJ+. Muskaan Arihar is a nine-year-old living in Bhopal, India. Recognising the lack of resources available to children like her, and determined to encourage her peers to learn, she opened a free street library. The library is based outside her home and is called Bal Pustakalaya, the translation being, 'Children’s Library', a fitting name encapsulating her mission; a library run by children for children.

Each afternoon after a long school day Muskan heads home to open up her library. Children from nearby slums come to the library to have books read to them and the children are also encouraged to take books home so they can learn to read on their own.

The library has seen a growing collection of over 119 books, including a donation last year by Room to Read, who provided books written in Hindi, the community’s local language.

A wonderful female activist at only 9 years old, I think we'll be seeing a lot of Muskaan in the future.

For now, though, you can see more of Muskaan's mission in the video below, or for more information about the charity Room to Read please follow the link here.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

This week I met with Angela the business woman behind ethical yoga brand Milochie.

Mirroring the union of yoga with nature, what Angela has achieved is a stunning collection of yoga wear that is both practical and stylish. Ethically made, each of Milochie's pieces are also considerate to the planet we live in ensuring as little impact as possible.

We discussed the future of retail and the importance of the environment and transparent manufacturing.

Q. Tell me more about how your brand came about

Milochie's story began with my passion for patterns, nature and wellbeing unified to create a platform where these passions evolved into products. Growing up with yoga teacher and scientist parents I have always been aware of the impact we have on our environment and it became ever more apparent to me that it was a challenge to discover beautiful, fun and stylish yet functional yoga equipment that was also eco-conscious and ethically sourced. And so working closely with Yoga teachers and students, the journey to create beautiful yet functional equipment began.

We are based in Bath and we have close ties with yoga studios around the area. Every one who is part of the team believes in the message of Milochie, that you can look great without hurting our planet and people! Our ethos is to create stylish and functional yoga and activewear which is sourced from manufacturers who treat employees fairly and are crafted from natural materials wherever possible.

Q. Your entire brand is traceable in terms of manufacturing, how important was this to you before launching your brand?

I am the founder and designer of the company, so I put a lot of thought and consideration into the sourcing of our products. My initial focus was on how is the creation of the products affecting the people who make them and what traces will these products leave on the planet. Bio-degradability, I believe, is a very important aspect of this as everything in nature is intended to transform into something else eventually, returning to the soil to feed many future generations of plants and creatures. With every collection we aim to decrease our environmental impact, and increase awareness and our message to the consumer.

Q. Clearly you care about the sourcing of your fabrics from an environment and people perspective. How important do you think this is for the future of retail?

With Milochie you are not simply buying a stylish alternative, but also high quality products that are made of natural materials and created by craftsmen working in a fair- environment where both sides share the benefit. We are living in a wasteful society, where nearly everything we own is 'disposable', what I mean with this is that many items are cheap in production, cheap on our wallets, but expensive for our environment. However, many consumers are kept in the dark about the first and last of these factors and therefore all we can care about is the second; how it affects our wallets. The more retailers care about the first and last factor and spread awareness to the consumers, the more we can make a change. I believe that we all care, to at least some degree, what happens to our planet and share empathy with those having to work in horrendous conditions to earn a living. Through more awareness I truly feel that many people will start to opt for the fairer production.

Q. What inspires your range of prints?

All the patterns and clothing are designed in-house with every collection featuring a new theme that aims to inspire and excite the consumer and get them motivated for yoga by making them feel great! We don't participate in the fast fashion trends, instead we want to inspire and create a meaningful story that our customers can be a part of and connect with. Our current collection focuses on the four elements in nature; Earth, Water, Fire & Air. The elements represent a different essence and character of nature, and with each print these qualities are visualised.

Q. What’s your top tip for de-stressing after a long week?

Yoga, of course! Once you're on that mat and put all your attention and focus on your body, you'd be surprised how you can suddenly forget all your stresses and worries. Allowing yourself an hour of that can give you a much clearer perspective on so many things. But, I also truly enjoy taking my dog out for a long country walk. Seeing that happy face as she runs around in nature, life's little stresses can appear so trivial and she has a great way of making me forget and join her in the moment.

To find out more about Milochie's active-wear or to shop from Angela's entire collection click here.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

This week I took some time out to meet Natalie, the business woman behind the vegan and cruelty free cosmetic brand Fairypants. 

Natalie prides herself on making things you won't ever find on the high street. I like to think of her as the female Willy Wonka of beauty products. Natalie's fun and fresh take on cosmetics includes products such as Parma Violet Perfume, Mojito Lip Balms and Cola Bottle Scented Body Butter.  It's hard not to feel like a kid in a sweetshop when faced with these choices. 

So we quizzed Natalie about how she comes up with her scents and the importance of being a vegan brand. 

Q. Tell us a bit about Fairy Pants

I'm Natalie, and I'm based in Chester, UK. I make all sorts of vegan goodies - specialising in cosmetics, skincare, and perfume. I'm a bit of a one-woman machine - though I have a lot of help from friends and family.  One day I'd like a shop - and a huge team of like minded lovelies!

Q. How did you start your brand?

It all started in 2009 - I graduated from Uni and was sick of having no money - I'd had a lot of disposable income whilst studying and I really missed treating myself. I'd always worked at Superdrug while I was doing my degree and I was obsessed with make-up. I found a recipe for lipbalm - and that was it, I was away! I added new products each year, and now we've got a really great range for our customers, and it improves all the time.

Q. Your products are all made using Vegan ingredients, how important was this to you when launching your brand?

Super important. To my mind, it really doesn't matter if you're a vegan or not - surely you don't want to put animal bits on your face? Also, my products are all Cruelty Free which is equally important - bunnies shouldn't suffer for your lippy. 

Q. Why should people consider using your products over the high street options?

We're proudly #vegannotboring and we're proving that vegan and cruelty free beauty aren't limited - in fact, it's far more exciting than your average high street options. If you want Parma Violet perfume or Mojito lipbalm, you come to us - and you can do it guilt free. We're also proud of our prices, and our British background. Shop local, and shop Vegan! Everyone's a winner.

Q. You have a great range of skincare products and perfume, from Pina Colada Body Butter to Turkish Delight Sugar Lip Scrub. How do you come up with your awesome range of scents and how much testing is involved to getting it just right?

Everything comes from my strange imagination. I wake up one day and think 'wouldn't it be awesome if you could get a perfume that smells of Rhubarb and Custard'. So then it takes a while to get through the red tape - I have to work out a recipe, test it on myself. Then I get it lab tested for safety, and usually, I will then call out for testers from my community of customers. I take on board any feedback, before working out packaging and labelingLabeling is quite important - especially for flammable items like my nail varnishes and perfumes. Then it's ready to go - and hopefully loads of people love it as much as I do.

Q. What’s your top tip to for longer lasting painted nails?

It's all about the prep! If you're removing old nail varnish first then use some of our scented Nail Varnish Remover to get rid. Then it's time to use some Cuticle Oil if your fingers are looking a bit unloved. You can use it on naked nails (though you may need to re-swipe your nail with varnish remover to get rid of any grease) or you can use it once you've manicured to keep your cuticle skin soft and supple. Pop on a coat of our quick drying base coat - by the time you've finished the last nail, the first nail will be ready for colour. 

Depending on the polish you'll usually need 1-2 coats for a good coverage. Then use our new Dry Drops sparingly- they will help your polish to dry in double quick time. Finally, top with one of our top coats - Gel, Matte or Gloss. These should ensure your mani lasts as long as possible - especially if you take it slightly over the tip of your nail. This will help the colour to seal in. 

To find out more info about the products or view Fairypants entire collection click here

Thursday, 16 February 2017

I came across this story via The Guardian and I really wanted to share it with you. It's a wonderfully inspiring story about four friends with Down's Syndrome, who overcame social and work-discrimination by starting their own pizza business.

Less than one year later they have a successful company, employing 24 people and catering for parties across Buenos Aires, this is their story...

For more info you can follow Los Perejiles Facebook page HERE

Friday, 10 February 2017

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Benjamin Partridge from The Owlery.  Producing bold homewares and gifts, Benjamin uses original lino cut and screen print surface designs featuring British woodland and coastal motifs.

In a challenging and competitive retail world, The Owlery offers more than just homewares. Quality manufacturing and an eco-view on the environment makes this maker very different to your average high street offering.  I spoke with Benjamin about how David Attenborough inspired his work, his thoughts on conservationism and his advice to fellow illustrators wanting to start their own business.

Q. Tell us a bit about The Owlery

The Owlery is the trade name for me, Benjamin Partridge. I am a printmaker and I specialise in traditional lino cut and screen printing methods. I work primarily with textiles and paper, however I also work with wood and ceramics, while some of my work is illustrative I have a bold, block printed style.

I am based in Sheffield and work from my studio in Yorkshire ArtSpace, fact... is (or at least was), the only purpose built studio complex in the UK.  It is home to hundreds of independent designs, maker and artists. 

I have a hand in almost every part of my business. I design everything in my studio and make the majority of my items here too by hand. I have a few items that are manufactured in small batches by local companies but I am very conscious about supporting local business so nothing is made outside of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. 

Q. How did it all come about?

There is a long and a short answer to this. 

The short answer is, I built the business from my kitchen table over the past 3 1/2 years and have periodically moved to bigger and bigger space, building my output and skills along the way. 

The long answer takes us back a few years when I was training to become a teacher. I worked as a special needs teacher full time while running my business initially and no work part time alongside running the business and the studio. My love of printmaking was developed from teacher training and running projects with students in school and via the kitchen table has evolved into me running my own print studio in Sheffield.

My love of nature is deep rooted in a childhood spent watching David Attenborough documentaries and and reading children's storied about animals. 

I also have very vivid memories of being very scared of classic animal based films such as Jurassic Park and Jaws (among other nightmare inducing movies which I am now obsessed with). Oh and I may or may not have also had a teddy bear which was a badger wearing green dungarees. I may or may not still have this.

Q. With your illustrations you seem to draw inspiration from British wildlife, how important is conservation and the environment to you?

I gain a lot of inspiration from ethical issues related to conservation and my bee design was drawn from issues related to the plight of the honey bee and the badger design from the badger cull. 

I try not to let these issues come out through design and allow it to speak for itself. More recently I have been considering some 'under the sea' themed designs which are inspired by issues related to plastic pollution in our seas and water.

When I create my work, it is important to me that each item has the smallest environmental impact as is possible. I ensure that all my work uses Eco friendly inks and where possible my papers are recycled or from stock which is replenished. 

"it is important to me that each item has the smallest environmental impact as is possible"

Q. What inspires you when coming up with your creations?

The natural world is a big inspiration and there is no one finer to refer to at this point than Sir David Attenborough! He has always been a hero of mine and his work in TV has inspired a lot of my design work and my ethical standpoints. 

I spend far too much time watching Attenborough documentaries and not actually working in the studio but I can call it research right?

Q. Why should people consider your homewares over the high street alternatives?

The one thing I can guarantee when buying my work is bold, bright, original design and quality craftsmanship. Each piece is lovingly handmade by my own fair hand and this attention to detail is something you will not find on the high street. 

Every time you buy a piece of my work you are supporting an individual, not a huge corporation. You help me to build a business, support a family and buy lots of nature DVD's.

"Each piece is lovingly handmade by my own fair hand, this attention to detail is something you will not find on the high street"

Q. What’s your top tip for any illustrators out there wanting to make a career of their skills?

Don't be afraid to just go for it and don't put limitations on yourself. 

I hear so many people say 'I'm not ready for that' or 'I can't do that' but why? 

Just take on the opportunities, throw yourself into the next challenge and yeah you are not always going to come out on top. You won't always feel like you know what you are doing, but if you did know it all then you wouldn't be challenging yourself. 

Throwing yourself into a career in illustration will provide you with experiences that you wouldn't get in a 9-5 job.

>>> For more info or to see the full collection click here <<<

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Today we meet Antonio Vicente (via 60 Seconds Doc) the man from Pouso de Rochedo, Brasil, who restored and brought life back to his rain forest one tree at a time.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Today I came across this wonderful story of 9 year old Jahkil Jackson, a boy who wanted to help is community. 

After a day of feeding the homeless with his Aunt and seeing how the they lived, Jahkil decided he wanted to get up and do something to help.  Together with his mother they founded a not-for-profit where they create “Blessing Bags” consisting of every day items a person needs (such as toothbrushes, socks, deodorant and soap) Jahkil, with a little help from his family, then distributes these to the homeless community.  

Below is Jahkil's story via HumanKind, so far he has distributed 2,000 Blessing Bags and his goal is to grow this to 5,000 bags by the end of 2017.

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