Our Changemaker Chats interview series tells stories from the front line of impact entrepreneurship, as we get to know changemakers from the #EthicalHour community.
Changemakers come in many different forms, but ultimately are united by one thing – the desire to leave the world a better place than they found it, and the proactive attitude to make change happen.
In this series, we invite them to share their story openly and honestly, the highs and the lows, to give the world a better understanding of what it takes to make an income and an impact.
By bringing together thousands of changemakers and highlighting their journey, we want to collect and showcase the things they have in common and what sets them apart.
Through this series we hope to create a roadmap for the changemakers that come after us, so they can learn from our mistakes and take our successes further.
Today we talk to Elizabeth, founder of Home of Juniper, about her changemaker journey…
Home of Juniper is a home and gift brand with it’s essence in conscious consumerism. The core value is to curate a range of high quality products; with accessible price points and ethical credentials. Each piece is carefully chosen from British makers, ethical groups and artisans abroad.
What first inspired you to become a changemaker?
As far back as I can remember I have wanted my own home and gift shop. After years of working in shops I am very aware that retail is not always ethical. I wanted to inspire joy in my customers and ensure support and fair pay for the makers of the products.
I started with the idea of supporting British makers and producers who are working abroad using ethical practices. It was important to me that we support a charity a year through our business. Our 2019 charities are Mind Mental Health and BBCT Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
As our business has grown we have made progress in other areas as well, for example, moving towards becoming a plastic-free business. Ethical Hour has made me more aware of the different aspects of ethical consumerism.
Which of the Sustainable Development Goals do you focus on? How do you create impact against them?
I am proud to say that Home of Juniper covers a number of the SDGs.
By working with a mixture of male and female makers (many of whom began their work during their maternity) we support Gender Equality. The fair-trade groups we support help us to focus on No Poverty, Zero Hunger and Reducing Inequalities.
Good Health and Wellbeing, is at the core of our business. We create positive content on social media and our blog on wellbeing and mental health topics, and many of our products and gift sets are curated to encourage wellbeing and self care. We also give 10% from the sale of some items to Mind, the mental health charity.
Responsible and Sustainable Consumption and Climate Action are also important to us, which is why we stock a range of plastic alternatives and recycled products, such as bird feeders made from recycled plant pots. This also helps us to support Life Below Water and Life on Land.
When you knew you wanted to be a changemaker, what was the first step you took?
The first step was to search for makers who worked within ethical guidelines similar to my own, while also sharing the same brand style. This is still an important part of my role as I am always on the lookout for new makers and new ideas.
How did you get your first customer?
It was actually on Facebook as our website was not yet up and running. I posted a photo of a bracelet that was going to be on the site, and a lovely lady contacted me and asked for six! I was taken aback by the immediate confidence I felt upon receiving our first order.
How are you inspiring others to support your cause?
We hope to inspire change through our social media and blog. We always keep our message positive and try to cover a range of topics, from the Sustainable Development Goals to making your garden more friendly for wildlife.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your journey so far? How did you overcome it?
I read somewhere that the biggest issue for small business owners is self-belief, and I can completely identify with this.
I often struggle with ‘imposter syndrome’ – the belief that at any moment, someone will expose that I don’t know what I am doing. But through growing my business I have become better at managing this, because not only do I know what I’m doing, but I am improving all the time! Even small steps like taking part in The Changemaker Chats has been hugely beneficial for my confidence.
Support from friends, family and happy customers has also helped, whether it is a nice comment on social media or a purchase, so I always try and make sure I am supportive of small business owners too. People don’t realise how much support like this can mean to a small business!
I would also say to anyone else who has self-doubt or imposter syndrome: persevere and celebrate little achievements – it all adds up!
What’s the best decision you’ve made that’s had an impact for your business so far?
As more businesses adopt ethical practices, working with ethical makers has become less of a USP, which is ultimately a very good thing for the world.
My decision to work with ethical businesses remains the best decision that I have made for my business, and it has helped me to keep focus on what is important to me.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
A simple but brilliant “Go for it”, courtesy of my brother. There are always going to be reasons not to do something, I know, because I spent years coming up with them! My brother told me it would be the hardest thing I would ever do, and he was right, but it was so worth it.
Where do you see yourself and the world around you in ten years? What’s your vision for a more ethical & sustainable future?
That’s a big question! I am hopeful that we can, as citizens of the world, make an impact on all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals. We have a long way to go, but I think it is doable and I think people are beginning to realise how necessary this is.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring change makers?
Always listen with gratitude to advice given to you by others, even if you don’t follow it. And most importantly, as my brother said – go for it!
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