To be honest, these aren't all FAQs, in that not all of them are asked frequently. But if we've been asked even once, you'll find the answer right here.
How do you pronounce Aerende?
It's not as tricky as it looks: Air - ren - day.
Will you represent me or another maker I know?
We always love to hear from new potential makers but please bear in mind that we rarely work with individuals. By working with charities, social enterprises and community groups, we ensure that appropriate safeguarding processes are in place and that our volume requirements and deadlines can be met without undue pressure on one person. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief overview and a picture of the sorts of things you’re making.
I'd like to send an item as a gift, can you do that?
Of course. Many of our items are bought as gifts and they are sent out nicely wrapped in compostable packaging as standard. All of our orders are fulfilled without paper receipts (for environmental reasons) so there won’t be any price details inside the box. If you'd like us to include a special message in the parcel, simply add it to special instructions box on the cart page of your order (before checkout).
How do you find your products?
It’s a varied process – sometimes by trawling the internet, other times by word of mouth. Occasionally we see or read about something or someone we feel might be interested in a collaboration so we do a bit of (friendly) cold calling. Having a journalistic background and love of researching helps.
I love your branding. Who did it?
Initially, the husband of our founder Emily, not only created our logo, but also took many of the photographs you see on this site. Sorry, I'm afraid he's not for hire. More recently we have been working with Charlotte from Creative Wilderness a conscious designer who is a delight to work with.
Who made my product?
Every Aerende order comes with a tag stating the name of the individual who made it. In certain cases, where safeguarding is an issue, or where a team has been involved, it may just feature the name of an organisation.
What is Aerende’s USP?
Aerende is unique (we think) in being the only online shop in the UK where you can buy interior and gifts products that are not just desirable, but comply with the most rigorous social and environmental credentials that any responsible consumer would be looking for. We adhere to the famous William Morris adage that you should "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." Our products should last a lifetime and become items to cherish. To us transparency is everything. If there's something you (as a maker or consumer) want to know about a product or business practice, just ask.
Are you an eco/ethical company?
The short answer is yes. But if you want a long answer, read on.
We think the terms eco and ethical have been rather misappropriated by big business and so we try not to over-use them, preferring transparency instead, so that our customers and makers can see the benefits and understand our processes for themselves. We do everything in our power to minimise our negative impact on the world, and to maximise the social value of our homewares. Our home office is powered by Ecotricity, transport between all local makers happens by bike, our packaging is stylish but compostable (see below) and we guarantee the working conditions of all of our makers. In fact, many of them work in spots that are so lovely and create products in batches so small, you literally couldn’t get any further from the sweatshop/production line methods of many high street retailers.
Can you tell me more about your compostable packaging?
We'd love to - it's another one of Aerende's USPs. Our packaging has been complicated and expensive to source but we feel confident in its environmental credentials. As you might expect, we have sourced everything from UK companies and have tried to minimise processing, pollution and transport in as many ways as possible. Our tissue paper is unbleached and FSC certified (it comes from The Green Stationary Company) and our tags are printed in London using vegetable inks on FSC-certified paper, made in the Lake District by GF Smith. If you have been lucky enough to receive something from us, you’ll know everything comes wrapped in jute twine made by James Lever in Bolton. Our stickers and address labels were printed especially for us by Berkshire Labels, one of the only places in the country that can produce a truly biodegradable sticker with its non-toxic BioTak adhesive.
To protect our items in the post we use crumpled recycled kraft paper and recycled cardboard.
When products arrive with us in packaging that doesn’t comply with our aesthetic or environmental principles, we simply pass it on so that there is no wastage in the supply chain or reuse it again and again as we send samples back and forth with our makers. We often receive donations of paper from local residents after moving and, happily, a neighbour runs an online shop selling pre-loved gardenalia called EmberGate – we donate surplus to her and are happy to see our second-hand packaging being reused for her products.
We’re always looking for ways to limit the impact of our packaging while ensuring a premium feel. Do get in touch if you have an innovative or beautiful packaging product you think we should know about.
How are you funded?
Following our successful pre-launch crowdfunding campaign, which you can see here, Aerende was entirely self-funding for its first two years. In 2018 and 2019 we received a number of grants and awards that are helping us to grow and expand our impact. These grants were from our local enterprise agency (Stanta), WeWork, The Big Issue Invest and the School for Social Entrepreneurs. We are very conscious of the issues around taking investment and only accept funding from those who understand our mission.
How do you pay your makers?
We pay per product at a price set by the maker organisation. This means that every product we sell generates revenue for our partner makers to continue their therapeutic work and ensure moneys are spent in the most effective way for their organisation. Please note that individual makers are not Aerende staff and we do not pay salaries to them. Instead we choose to work with regularly audited charities and organisations to further the reach and income of their own creative therapeutic projects and activities.
What is a social enterprise anyway?
A social enterprise is simply any business that is motivated as much by people and the planet as by profit. We operate to normal business standards and aims but Aerende also happens to be a not-for-profit. This non legally binding term is often bandied about without clear definition. For us, it means that any profit is put straight back into the business. As a company limited by guarantee we have no shareholders and are motivated by the financial success of the organisation and the people it has been set up to support, not any individuals associated with it.
Why are your prices so high?
We’ve tried really hard to make sure our prices are fair both for our makers and our customers. But as a society we have got used to prices that don’t really reflect the cost of the product, either in relation to materials or creation. Most of our products are unique to us and can’t be bought anywhere else. They are made especially for Aerende by real human beings and take time and care to create. When you buy them, you’re not just buying a beautiful, limited-edition item to use and cherish, you’re also paying the maker a fair price and contributing towards a whole array of compassionate business practices. Our makers work when they want, in ways that suit them and their lives best. Our business plan is based on our customers understanding and appreciating true value and being prepared to pay a little extra for it. In terms of mark-ups, we operate according to a standard retail markup model that takes into account transport and packaging costs, photography, storage, website hosting and payment-taking fees, all of our business expenses and proper fair pay for everyone involved in the business.
You say all of your products are made in the UK yet some of your materials are from further afield. Why is that?
All of our makers are based in the UK and every item is made here. However, much to our chagrin, we have found it challenging to find materials, particularly textiles, that are grown and made here and that also provide the quality and style that we expect. When items are not from the UK, they are sourced them from as close to home as possible (eg, our linen is from Lithuania) and we try hard to find items that comply with our ethical standards. If you are a British textile maker who may be interested in collaborating or providing us with wood, metal or fabric, please do get in touch. We'd love to work towards being a 100% sourced in the UK company.
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Got a question you don't see an answer to?
Drop us a line via our contact page and we'll answer it personally and on this page.