This month, we caught up with Bethan and Joe. The amazing brother and sister team who own a thriving online shop and are currently on the market to sell the business to explore other ventures.
Decorator’s Notebook is an online shop where design, quality and ethics are at the forefront of the business.
Bringing together the finest ethical homeware designs and gifts made by artisans around the globe - Bethan and Joe's curated collection of handmade products enrich the marketplace and offer customers the unique and rare opportunity to buy fairly priced products without making any ethical compromise. Ethical commerce is in high demand and on the rise. We wanted to share their story...
How did your business start?
Decorator’s Notebook is an online shop selling design-led home accessories made by social enterprises, fair trade groups and artisan co-operatives around the world. Our mission is to show that beautiful design and ethical production can go hand-in-hand.
We are a brother and sister team. Bethan began writing a blog – the original Decorator’s Notebook – in 2011, while she was working as an interiors journalist. The idea for a shop that sold a curated collection of products with a similar aesthetic grew from there. Joe was working in e-commerce development at the time, so we teamed up, enrolled on a startup business course and launched the Decorator’s Notebook shop in October 2013.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I genuinely believe that design can change the world! I’m really passionate about helping people create a home that’s personal to them and connecting them to the makers of the things they buy. There are so many artisans in developing countries making beautiful things, but too many retailers opt for mass-produced goods instead. As a result, traditional craft skills are being lost and families are often torn apart when they’re forced to move to the cities and find work in factories. By paying fair wages and helping our artisans develop their designs, we can help them make a sustainable living from their skills, stay in their homes and keep families together.
What type of products do you sell?
Our products are a celebration of traditional crafts and contemporary design. We sell a curated collection of design-led home accessories made by artisans who get a fair deal. You’ll find sisal baskets handwoven by members of a women’s co-operative in Kenya, quilts made from vintage saris by women recovering from trafficking in Bangladesh, hand-thrown pottery made by disabled artisans in India and so many more. Connecting the products to the people and stories behind them is really important to us, so when you visit our shop you’ll also find interviews with our artisan partners and photographs of them at work. Some products are even signed by the individual maker.
How do you decide what goes into the collections?
I look for beautiful products with an inspiring story to tell. Quite often, making socially responsible choices when you shop can mean compromising your style… I don’t think that needs to be the case. Our mission is to prove that design, quality and ethics can go hand in hand, so it’s really important to me that every product scores equally highly on all counts. I want to challenge the perception that ethical goods are all ‘hippyish’ and give people a beautiful online shop where they can buy thoughtfully-designed homeware that shines in a contemporary home.
What is your favourite product that you currently sell and why?
The kantha quilts are amazing. We work with a social enterprise in Dhaka, Bangladesh, that helps women escape the sex trade and offers fairly-paid employment making traditional kantha quilts from vintage saris. Every single one is unique with a different vintage sari on each side and embroidered all over with neat lines of hand-stitching. They also come with an embroidered label with the name of the lady who made it and a link so the new owner can read her personal story. Our kantha quilts really embody what Decorator’s Notebook is about – beautiful products that make a genuine difference to the lives of the makers.
What do you love most about running your own business?
Working with our amazing suppliers in developing countries and showcasing the quality of their work to our customers. We weave the stories behind the products into all parts of our website so customers can connect with the makers and understand how their purchase makes a difference to improving their lives. Craft and design have the power to bring people on other sides of the world closer together - we love making that happen.
This fabulous business is currently for sale. View the full advert and speak to Bethan and Joe directly by clicking here.
Posted on December 01, 2019 | Business for sale, ecommerce, ethical business, ethics, selling a business