FEEL GOOD HOMEWARES PURCHASES WITH HAPPY + CO
In the last couple of months you may (or may not) have noticed that I've started to take a slightly less consumeristic approach to how I run my blog. It's all well and good enjoying products as expression of your identity and personality but all too often on the internet everything becomes a huge wash of 'buy this then you'll be cool' and I'm really not down with it. I know as a blogger that seems somewhat at odds with what I do... and it is a lot of the time. As I've said on here before I'm constantly in the middle of the push and pull of this conundrum, but hopefully finding a happy medium! With that in mind today I'd like to highlight a brand that are bringing the 'give back' to the front and centre.
Happy + Co, yes, make products. So how exactly does this fit with what you're saying Sarah? Well, they stood out to me not only because of their distinctive illustrated print work homewares but also because they invest 10% of their profits from every single product sold to a farm in Cambodia. This provides much-needed jobs for the young men and women, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables for the whole community.
I wanted to show you a couple of their cool products in my home and share the ethos of Happy + Co in a bit more detail, so I had a chat with Penny Capper, one of the co-founders.
How important is the give back of your business?
Our farm is the heart of Happy + Co. It gives us a purpose and runs through everything we do. The company started with the farm at its core and it will continue to do so. We even hope to in the future be able to bring products from the farm e.g. jams etc. over to the UK.
Gary currently lives in Thailand and fell in love with Cambodia many years ago. He initially supported students in the poor provinces of Siem Reap to get degrees etc. Following many years of this support he decided that a logical next step would be to establish a small business which would employ the skills and improved knowledge of his supported students. As most of the students were from rice farming families, the decision was made to establish a venture related to agriculture.
Vegetable growing in the barren soil of northern Cambodia faces enormous challenges, thus the dependence by locals on imports from Vietnam and Thailand, but by employing soilless hydroponic techniques, Happy + Co farm now supplies many of the larger hotels and restaurants in Siem Reap.
Can you explain share a personal story or journey of any of your workers in Cambodia?
The farm has already helped Dara, a former tuk tuk driver, qualify as a chef; Sompah, a young girl who supported her elderly parents, become a teacher; and Sokha (pictured), a hotel doorman, complete his business degree and become the manager of the
Happy + Co Farm. And this is just the beginning...
The farm now provides monthly salaries to its workers many of whom in the past were forced to leave their communities to find labouring work in Thailand. This migration had a severe social impact on their families.
Are you seeing the 'give back' way of business becoming more popular?
More and more companies are adopting a strong social stance. Consumers want to buy from brands that have similar values to them, and brands more and more themselves want to make a difference.
For us the farm is such an important part of our company, we don’t see it as an add on but something that runs throughout everything we do. We find it to be such an incredibly rewarding part of our business.
Do you think business owners in the UK are more concerned with profits than giving back to communities?
I think that there is always pressure to perform, however more and more companies are seeing the importance of giving back. There are some brilliant examples of brands that give back particularly in the States, for example Warby Parker's buy a pair, give a pair initiative.
How would you encourage consumers (and bloggers like me) to give back?
The majority of consumers are very savvy these days and will very much look into the ethos of a company before they buy from it. I would just suggest doing a bit of homework to ensure that the values of the companies that we buy from where possible meet your own.
I love what Happy + Co are doing, OK as lover of interiors we may not be able to step totally out of consumer land, and we probably don't want to, but at least with brands like Happy + Co around we can feel a bit better about whose pockets our cash is lining. I'm obsessed with my new cushions for the bedroom and the napkins will be livening up a dinner party very soon! Plus when you get cushions from Happy + Co they come in these awesome drawstring sacks which double up as the perfect laundry bags. Smart!
What do you think of Happy + Co's initiative? Should more homewares companies embrace the 'give back' ethos?
*This post is in collaboration with the wonderful Happy + Co*