Celebrating Small Businesses
Working in sustainability can sometimes feel like pushing a rock up a hill.
There is a mammoth challenge ahead. It can feel overwhelming. The changes we need require a major overhaul of systems across energy, industry, agriculture, food & waste, buildings & cities, and our mindset must change towards restoring nature.
Even though there are days where it feels impossible, there are other days where you meet people or see the amazing things businesses are doing. These businesses and people are the ones that need to be celebrated.
Last week, exactly this happened. I went to the local market town and met two inspiring individuals that set up Wildish, a new specialty coffee shop and outdoor club in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire. This little town has been shouting out for some good coffee for a while, so it is a winner in my eyes, even if the story did end here.
But it doesn’t.
The founders of this shop, Oscar and Nell, set Wildish up to meet new people, connect people with nature, and have a retail store to showcase their sustainable bag business, BearMade.
BearMade is an outdoor lifestyle bag brand. They started with the idea of creating a fly fishing bag to carry the ‘bare essentials’ for a day in the water. Oscar competed in fly fishing for the England youth team, so fly fishing plays an important role in the story of BearMade.
The range of bags have now expanded, offering different bags for many occasions. I’d expect their range to grow over the coming years, but one thing that won’t be growing, is their capacity. This is where BearMade are different.
We are taught to believe successful businesses are the biggest ones with fastest growth. This is not the view BearMade have. They’ve set their bag capacity at 25 bags per week. They don’t want to produce anymore. They believe success comes from being happy, being able to spend time outside in nature, being able to help people connect with nature and improve mental wellbeing.
Setting their capacity at 25 bags means they can continue to use the same bag maker, Amy, for everything. Amy is based in Suffolk, meaning all bags are handcrafted in the UK. Having a short supply chain ensures the bags do not travel long distances, keeping emissions from transportation as low as possible.
BearMade also have a more limited line of bags. At the moment, it is the Acorn Edition. With every purchase of the Acorn Edition bag, BearMade plant a one year old tree in the local, privately owned woodland about one mile from the shop. Again, keeping things local.
This is the same woodland they hosted their first Wildish Club, a club to help people get out more, enjoy nature and improve mental wellbeing.
Oscar and Nell want to a run a meaningful business, producing great products that don’t cost the earth. We could all learn something from the way they operate.
Seeing businesses like this make you feel more optimistic about the challenges we face. They make things feel worthwhile.
I could write a lot more about what BearMade are doing, but if you’re interested in reading about their full story, check them out here.
Let me know what you think, and if you have any other great business stories, please get in touch.