How We Work
We are passionate about the wide range of proven benefits of craft making (from enhanced mental health and mobility to reduced isolation) and in the value that making-based charities, social enterprises and community organisations bring to the people they support and society at large. In the light of an increasingly challenging funding environment for these organisations, we launched Aerende to support them, to foster greater thought and consideration for the things we buy and to offer a truly beautiful range that challenges perceptions and genuinely integrates environmental and social considerations in the way we do business.
Our non-profit status is enshrined in our legal status (Company Ltd by Guarantee) as we feel it should be possible to run a successful, money-generating business that benefits solely those who work within it (by keeping all surplus funds within the business), rather than shareholders or financial institutions.
We work with a range of vulnerable makers and our priority is to ensure that any relationships are based on mutual benefit and respect. As it says on the Makers page of our website, we prefer to partner with charities and social enterprises that are able to best meet the specific needs of their service users and advocate on their behalf. All of our partnerships are fully consensual, and flexible, to accommodate the sometimes unpredictable circumstances of our makers.
Makers and maker organistaions only appear on the website or social media with written permission. All makers have an open invitation to take over our social media feeds, to contribute blog posts and to add content to our website. We are working hard to help make this as easy as possible for them.
Payment structures vary between organisations. Most frequently, we pay the charity or organisation a set price per item or product and they are responsible for overseeing payment for their service-users/volunteers (where relevant). In some cases this revenue stream forms part of the vital funds necessary to ensure the continuation of their care services (for example, Studio 306, where our makers volunteer for 2/3 hours a week and help make Aerende products as part of that time). In some, makers are paid a full London Living Wage (The Soap Co; FabricWorks). In others, makers may not receive a 'salary' but receive valuable in-kind benefits such as housing, the chance to engage in meaningful activity and a wider range of therapeutic benefits (for example, makers at Camphill Village Trust or Parkwood Pottery). Where we pay individuals directly, prices vary but we normally expect to pay in the region of around 50%-60% of the total profit on the product (after materials, shipping and other costs). If you would like some specific breakdowns, please email us on email@example.com and we would be happy to supply them.
In every case, we pay prices set by the maker organisations. We never try and knock them down or seek discounts and we are completely open about the mark-up we put on the product. This mark-up covers the costs of website hosting, photography, beautiful packaging and of course the kind of publicity that may have bought you here – which we feel is invaluable in terms of bringing these unseen talents to a wider market, and to ensuring the success of the business, which in turn benefits our makers on a longer-term basis.
The collaborative and positive relationship Aerende has with its maker organisations should be clear from our social media streams in which both sides are pleased to support each other. As our partner makers at Studio 306 recently said: “We are so glad we found you. We simply don’t have time to photograph or sell our products online or in person and can’t get the kind of public reach that you are able to achieve. By working with Aerende we can keep offering our creative service to adults recovering from mental health illnesses.”
Aerende is not a charity. As you will see on our FAQs, we are a company limited by guarantee. Any profit is put straight back into the business and there are no dividend or bonuses paid to anyone associated with the company. However, Aerende does need to make money to be able to exist and grow which will in turn enable us to support a greater number of makers, charities and organisations. A small salary for the staff of one is paid, along with flexible working and pay for additional support (accounting, photography, retail finance) and this will never be more than the total amount paid to our maker organisations in any given year.
We are proud of our working practices and aim to work with integrity and transparency at all times. We always welcome genuine feedback about our processes.