I love introducing you to passionate eco-friendly and ethical brands that care as much about the world as they do their customers. This time it’s the turn of Natalie at Smallkind to tell us all about her fabulous little business…
Tell us about yourself and why started your business…
I’m a mum to two boys aged 6 and 4 and we live in a Victorian terrace in Leeds which we’ve been renovating for the best part of ten years. I’ve been a Social Worker for 12 years and for the last 6 have worked part time to fit around my family. When I was pregnant I started out upcycling vintage jewellery and joined my local Etsy team where I suppose got the small business bug. My first son
broke all my favourite necklaces so I was inspired to start making teething and nursing jewellery and I ran that business (Little Magpies) for four happy years. Eventually it became my main income and I was on the verge of leaving my day job but I knew something just wasn’t right. The beads I used were made from silicone and having really looked into the production and environmental impact I felt like what I was creating was at odds with my lifestyle and values so I decided it was time to move on.
Since having children I’ve become much more aware of our impact on the environment and I’d made lots of changes to our lifestyle. That included using cloth nappies and buying sustainably made clothes and toys, natural toiletries and cleaning products. These things weren’t easy to find locally and in one place so at the same time I was winding down my business I knew that I wanted to start a brand that sold all the things I’d worked so hard scouring the internet to find!
I absolutely love running my business. For me it’s a creative outlet away from the family and stresses of my day job. Plus I’m really passionate about well made, carefully considered products. I don’t really shop on the high street any more because I’ve become very picky about how things are made. It’s not something I gave any thought to when I was younger but as I get older I really value
things that are made to last.
What makes your brand ethical?
I do a lot of research when I’m choosing brands to stock. I love design led products that look good and do the job but I need to know that products are made fairly and sustainably, too. I ask questions about manufacturing processes, packaging and carbon emissions when I’m deciding what to stock. When I started becoming more conscious of my own family’s environmental impact I would spend a lot of time choosing what to buy and weighing up the pros and cons of different products. Sometimes that would mean not buying anything because I couldn’t find, for instance, a sustainably made baby blanket that wasn’t really ugly!
My customers can be reassured that I’ve done the leg work for them and everything we stock at Smallkind meets very high standards (and is not ugly!).
What plans do you have to become more ethical or sustainable in the future?
At the moment Smallkind is online only and run from two rooms in my attic at home. We use a green energy supplier and as I’m the only employee I can confirm that working conditions are good! I reuse all the packaging that stock is delivered in and buy recycled and recyclable boxes and paper mailers from a local small business.
The brands I work with are constantly striving for more sustainable practices and I’m really inspired by this. A couple of the wooden toy brands still wrap some toys in plastic for protection.They have been considering changing this but are weighing up studies of alternatives such as cardboard boxes and the environmental impact of each. They keep me up to date with what they are doing to make changes and what they have tried so I feel confident that whatever the outcome it will be a well considered and informed decision.
Any profit Smallkind makes is reinvested back into the business to enable me to expand my range and work with new brands. I really want to support smaller brands to get their products out there because it’s the companies of one working from their kitchen tables that are creating really exciting innovative stuff. When the business does become profitable I’d like to do a profit share to support environmental charities.
What is your favourite product from your website & why?
Right now I’m all about cleaning supplies! I’ve never been massively into cleaning but it turns out that during a pandemic cleaning is actually pretty rewarding and reassuring. So I’ve put together an Eco Cleaning Starter Box which includes a scourer, cloths, cleaning refills and a Marseille soap bar; all plastic free and made from natural materials. That’s really all you need to clean the whole house and with the right products it’s not actually as bad a job as I thought it was!
Describe your brand in 3 words…
Sustainable, ethical, honest.
I was lucky enough to meet Natalie a few years ago at a blogging conference and I can confirm that she is as lovely & as down to earth as she sounds! I was so chuffed to be chosen as one of her brand ambassadors meaning you guys get an exclusive 10% discount when you use the code NEST. And if that wasn’t generous enough, Nat & I have a great Instagram giveaway running from Wednesday 15th – 22nd July 2020. Enter HERE!
Natalie has big plans for Smallkind and I can’t wait to watch her business grow over the coming years. Now, go make the most of that discount!