5 brighton brands that give back
Ok, we admit it. We’re not entirely averse to the rush of endorphins we get when we buy something new, especially after a crappy day with our faces stuffed into someone’s undeodorised armpit for the good part of an hour. (Yes, on a train.) And, we know, it’s not the answer to all our problems, but sometimes that brief purchase-induced spark of joy really helps, at least until the rush of guilt floods in telling us off for fuelling our consumer-based culture and for buying another big-brand item that we really don’t, let’s be honest, actually need. So when we discovered that there are lots of Brighton brands out there not only making beautiful things but making a real social and economic difference, our guilt knocked off for the day and had a beer. Yes, these brands have found the sweet spot where aesthetics meet ethics and we couldn’t be happier (and far freer of shopping-induced guilt). These are our favourites right now:
The eyes have it
Pala is an ethical sunglasses brand set up by digital media expert and glasses wearer John Pritchard. They make a wide range of fashion-led sunnies to suit your style, whether that’s bold and beautiful or classic cool. And we can happily testify that their high-quality shades are beautifully finished and super-comfortable to wear. Plus, they look way more expensive than they cost. But, even better than all that, Pala has a ‘buy-give’ promise. The company donates a proportion of the sale from each pair of sunglasses to funding visionary projects (such as vision centre dispensaries and screening programmes) in Africa, which suffers from a huge lack of eye-care. Oh, and their name, Pala, comes from the ‘impala’ antelope who are, apparently, renowned for their superb eyesight. We do love it when we can shop, do good and learn.
Burn baby burn
We’re not good when there’s money burning a hole in our pockets, we’d far rather be using it to burn candles. Particularly the gorgeous Seven Seventeen ones, which look as delicious as they smell (the Moroccan rose is particularly divine). That font! Set up by two magazine journalist friends, these mood-boosting luxury candles are made in England from clean-burning natural plant wax and fine oils and are paired with a suitably uplifting mantra. Needless to say, we were sold from the very first sniff. They also regularly collaborate with like-minded people, such as mental health blogger Natasha Bailie – check out their brilliant U Ok Hun? candle. Plus, they donate £1 from the sale of each of their white label candles, black label candles and reed diffusers to the Pandas Foundation, Calm, and Sane, respectively. To date, the company has raised over £10k for mental health charities. Now that puts us in a really good mood.
We sea you
Ruth, Kath and Cat met in the sea in 2017 and, whilst chatting, bobbing and drinking tea, they came up with the idea of Seabirds. They produce a range of high-quality, ethically made sustainable goods, such as the above enamel and stainless glasses (for beer AND tea!), that are built to last. With products such as their stainless steel straws and brightly coloured anti-plastic coffee cups and water bottles (we have our eyes on this rose gold beauty), they hope to steer people away from single-use plastic products that damage the environment. They also sell brilliant swimming paraphernalia, such as bold changing robes and the Puffin bag/float (no more worrying about your stuff being nicked when you take a dip). And, importantly, Seabirds is a social enterprise, which means the profits they make are donated to local community groups and charities that work to improve wellbeing and the environment and get more people in the sea so they, too, can benefit from its health-boosting joy. Hurrah!
Over the (Ruby)Moon
Set up by Jo Godden, a former swimwear designer for Victoria’s Secret and GapBody, RubyMoon makes stylish and sustainable pieces from a special nylon yarn that’s derived from used fishing nets and other waste materials. Many of the long-lasting vibrant items are designed to take you from swim to gym and back again, cutting down on the need to buy separate pieces. But this not-for-profit business has a positive social as well as environmental impact: it partners with Lendwithcare to allow 100% of its net profits to be made available to women entrepreneurs in 13 developing countries in the form of micro-loans, allowing these women to work themselves out of poverty. The repaid loans are reinvested in the company, enabling RubyMoon to grow and offer more loans in the future.
We also need to give a huge shout-out to Brighton’s brilliant FAIR Shop, which, since it first opened ten years ago, has been working tirelessly with local organisations in the developing world to help its producer partners out of poverty. The fair-trade and ethical fashion specialist stocks a wide range of fantastic clothes and accessories brands (like fashion faves People Tree), many of which use organic and sustainable fabrics, as well as a whole host of lovely things-you-don’t-need-but-really-want. It even hosts exhibitions, too, such as the Brighton Beach Collective’s beach waste installation earlier this summer. But one of the best things about shopping here is that you can be absolutely sure that everything you see in the shop has impeccable ethical credentials and uses environmentally friendly materials. Phew!