Two months on from the success of our crowdfunding campaign, we thought it was about time for an update on how things are going.
Following the receipt of all the funding (a more difficult process than you might imagine), it was very exciting to get started making our first orders. These included a range of chopping boards and wooden utensils from Fruitful Woods in Edinburgh; some beautiful ceramic vases and tealights from Studio 306 in London, all of which have been made by people recovering from mental health illnesses; soap and moisturiser from visually impaired employees at The Soap Co, and cushions embroidered by prisoners from Fine Cell Work. All of these charities and social enterprises are well set up to support both their service users and the needs of emerging businesses so working with them has been a pleasure (and a handy learning process).
With other organisations and individuals we’ve been experimenting more with commissioning – working out through trial, error and many discussions, products that we think are practically achievable and desirable for volunteers and service users to create, and that customers will want to buy. The samples are now complete, which means we’ll have glazed bowls and hopefully some baskets made by residents with learning disabilities at Camphill Community, and hanging plant holders and bed linen from the ladies at FabricWorks, a social enterprise providing employment for victims of trafficking. I have had some original drawings by Ivan the Woodsman (who is homeless) printed and they are now ready for people’s walls. On the way are candles from Wales, all made in a factory that provides jobs and support for people with learning disabilities and, soon, some knitted and hand-sewn items from some Syrian refugees who have recently arrived in the UK.
Of course there have been delays and challenges. But the positive stories from people who are relishing the creative process, in some cases for the first time since childhood, are a good motivator, as is the growing launch collection of products, which are testament to a more considerate way to shop. And we are proud to be able, in a small way (for now), to help charities and social enterprises who are doing an excellent and valuable job of supporting vulnerable people but need revenue to be able to continue their work. By providing them with an online retail outlet, we are able to remove the stress/resources of online sales from them, allowing them to facilitate support that is given in the right way to the right people. The nature of the business means I’m usually dealing with representative and advocates for the makers rather than the makers themselves, but the feedback has been brilliant and we’re excited to build on all the many relationships we’ve begun so far.
To all of you who helped Aerende get to this point, by funding us, talking about us, and following us on social media thank you. Please do follow us on Facebool (www.facebook.com/aerendeshop) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/aerendeshop/ to be kept up to date with product and supplier information and news of our launch, coming soon...