One of the unexpected upsides to come out of the current situation has been the fostering of a much greater sense of community and connection. From bonds formed between neighbours to daily video chat check-ins with friends and family – not to mention a dedicated effort to support local and independent businesses. So, with the latter in mind, we’ve gathered together a few of the smaller brands loved by the team here at Neptune that you can still shop with online and that all, as the cherry on the cake, are ethically and sustainably-minded.
The champion of craft Midgley Green
Natural materials, handmade pieces, an edited colour palette, contemporary styling with a sense of heritage: if you’re as big a fan as we are of any of the above, you’ll almost certainly love this homewares shop. Based out of Clevedon in Somerset, Midgley Green is owned and run by husband and wife duo Katherine Midgley and Seamus Green (with a little help from son, Malachy, and cocker spaniel Bailey). Purveyors of crafted pieces from small British makers, look out for ceramics from Carmarthenshire-based potter Tim Lake, screen-printed tea towels by Cornish artist Lou Tonkin, and baskets woven through with catkins and pussy willow by Claire Kinsella (which sell out within hours, so join their mailing list to be the first to know when the next batch is in).
The organic skincare brand Bashó
Cornish brand Bashó is about so much more than just skincare. Their approach goes much deeper and centres around a holistic understanding of your skin and the creation of everyday rituals to balance both body and mind. Their website is a library of knowledge designed to help you develop this better connection, from clear and concise recommendations for different skin types to teachings on how daily and long term changes can affect yours. Named after 17th-century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, known for his masterfully honed haikus, it should come as no surprise that theirs is a philosophy of stripped-back simplicity too, with all their face and body oils created from just a handful of entirely natural ingredients.
The heritage workwear maker Carrier Company
Made using natural fabrics – oilskin, cotton drill, Scottish lambswool – and to traditional designs – smocks, slops, Guernseys – this is truly time-honoured workwear, eschewing modern manmade textiles and high-tech features in favour of tried-and-tested practicality. Founded by gardener and environmentalist Tina Guillory in 1995, Carrier Company started out with just one product, the Classic Carrier (a large jute square with handles at each corner so it can act as both sheet to collect garden clippings and bag to carry them to the compost heap), and has grown into a collection of clothing, bags and accessories (think canvas windbreaks for the beach and fingerless gloves for the garden) inspired by a life spent outdoors, and all still designed by Tina in Norfolk. Made with longevity in mind, this is a sustainable brand in the most long-established sense of the word.
The childrenswear designer What Mother Made
Designing and making in East London, the small team behind What Mother Made combine practicality with pretty details (waterproof trousers with floral lining, cotton utility rompers with striped collars, and hooded jackets in vibrant patterns) to create hand-me-down worthy clothing for little ones. Traditional shapes keep things feeling timeless while bright colours lend a playful, up-to-date edge and locally-sourced fabrics tick another sustainability box (as does their zero-wastage policy). The brand also create coordinating, not-too-matchy outfits for women too, as well as carrying an edited collection of books and games, making it easy to put together a parcel of activities and clothes perfect for days spent mucking about at home.
The sustainable home shop The Kind Store
Founded on the basis of encouraging us to buy less and to buy better, The Kind Store is the online equivalent of your local zero-waste shop. Founder Tash (who runs the store herself) has brought together everything you could need for a more environmentally-friendly home, including charcoal sticks for filtering water, brushes and sponges made from coconut fibres, vegan wax food wraps and natural, packaging-free soaps. Tash’s company is socially-conscious too, working with fair-trade brands and aiming for complete transparency at every stage of the supply chain, as well as donating 10% of her own profits to charity too. In fact, you can even read her ‘sustainable business plan’ online, while The Kind Store’s newsletters are filled with articles and guides to help you lead a kinder life.
Just a card
There are lots of seemingly little ways that you can support your local shops and businesses right now that’ll make a big difference to them. Some of our favourites are…
Buying a voucher for a restaurant that might be shut right now but that you’re sure to visit in the future. You could also send one to a friend as a promise of a future coffee-and-cake get-together.
A good, old-fashioned postal order placed over the phone with a favourite local shop that doesn’t have an online store.
An appointment booked now as a promise that, when all has returned to normal, you’ll be sure to come back in.
The ‘just a card’ campaign, started by artist and designer Sarah Hamilton, to encourage support for galleries, illustrators and shops in the smallest and simplest of ways.