Jane Langley, Founder and Curator of BluePatch.org on her campaign to connect makers, retailers and shoppers
Despite the fact that the UK is a global leader in the creative industries generating £87.4bn a year for the UK economy, our sustainable local makers, designers and artisans struggle to survive. Change is happening at an alarming rate in this fast-paced economy. Artisan schools are closing, spaces for makers are losing funding and the demand for high-end ethical products is limited.
However, things are starting to change for the better as businesses and consumers begin to question the effects of hyper-production on the environment. We’re witnessing the rise of new business models with purpose and ethics as core values.
Giving Britain’s ethical makers a fighting chance
I run Blue Patch, a social enterprise and online directory that promotes high-end sustainable and local businesses, and the Power of Positive Shopping (POPS) campaign is simply a response to what our 350 members have been repeating to us over the past two years. Their key issue is the lack of time and resources to get their products seen by customers and customers who care. Our campaign then, is wholly practical, helping Britain’s makers and producers to colonise an ‘alternative retail market’, one that’s impromptu, collaborative, flexible and a bridge to their target market.
Supporters of the campaign will be those with space that can be shared with small business owners. It could be something as simple as a shop window, an office or a showroom all the way up to a department store or a super store. All of these venues offer wonderful opportunities for small businesses that are nimble by nature - they’ll ‘pop-up’ with creative and exciting products, injecting energy and passion into the local economy.
The Power of Positive Shopping is not only about encouraging the business community to take part and support our unique small businesses, but also about raising awareness for sustainable, ethically-made goods.
Fostering sustainability in business
100 per cent of Blue Patch’s income supports local sustainable business including renewable energy, education, community and conservation programmes.
We believe that now is the time to embrace low carbon production, bolstering the circular economy and encouraging a culture of ‘made to last, repair and reuse’. With the harsh reality of climate change challenged by vested political interests, Britain’s businesses can leap ahead of the crowd, becoming an inspiration to all by protecting the environment and the local economy - after all they belong together!
The campaign has immediate access to some of the most exceptional sustainable businesses from tip to toe of the British Isles: Orkney Chairs from Kirkwall, Celtic & Co in Newquay, Cornwall, Brambleberry Jams in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, ethical fashion brand Kitty Ferreira in Catford, south London, all of whom are all members of the Blue Patch community.
The POPS supporters can therefore select from a curated community of really ethical SMEs - meaning the campaign checks both the local and sustainable boxes.
Creating positive partnerships
The first POPS partnership is with the aptly named The Collaborative Store in Marylebone, London, a lifestyle store bursting with beautiful things from fashion to furniture. An enthusiastic champion of creative businesses, store owner Elena Todary offers something not widely available - good quality products with a clear ethical and sustainable provenance.
- Drop by and view work by Blue Patch members Alison Bickmore, Mary Goodman, Michael Armstrong and Eleanor Nadimi at The Collaborative Store: 58 Blandford St, Marylebone, London W1U 7JB. Opens 11am - 7pm Monday - Saturday and Sunday 12am - 6pm. You can find The Collaborative Store on Facebook
- If you are an ethical British business, producing in the UK, sign up now to become Blue Patch members. You can also apply for our Business Awards . Nominations are open until 24th July.