Shop Sustainable: Felt Fancy
Welcome to my new series 'Shop Sustainable', where I will be collaborating with some of the coolest ethical brands to give you some environmental inspiration. For my first instalment in this sustainability series, I spoke to 19-year-old Eleanor Claudie from Hampshire, who runs a small sustainable business, Felt Fancy, where she sells adorable handmade jewellery for an affordable price. All of her social links and her Depop shop can be found at the bottom of this article!
First off, tell me a little bit about yourself, what your business is about and why you started it…
I’m an ethical and sustainable fashion blogger at eleanorclaudie.com and after taking a gap year, albeit an impromptu one, I wanted to start a business alongside my current job where I could express my creativity, affinity with sustainability and share that joy with others. Along came Felt Fancy.
How did you get into sustainability? Were there any particular stories or events that resonated with you enough to change your habits?
My sustainability ‘journey’ has been a long one and I’m still learning, especially on the lifestyle aspect side of things. I first became interested in learning more after watching a documentary on the treatment of factory workers in a geography lesson; the production of fast fashion through the eyes of Nike and Primark highlighted the danger to the workers and the environment caused by such manufacturing. I also did GCSE Textiles where we were encouraged to learn about organic materials, as well as waste. That was about four years ago now, and I’ve learnt and engaged with sustainability so much more through my blog, resources and other people doing amazing work towards sustainability.
Can you tell me a bit about how you have made your business practices sustainable?
In terms of my own business, I use recycled sterling silver from a lovely supplier, as well as sustainably sourced wool (there is no practice of mulesing, which involves the removal of strips of wool-bearing skin from around the sheep’s breech, and all the dyeing is done at the farm). I also try to use either recyclable or recycled packaging.
Are there any areas of your business that just can’t be made sustainable?
I think the hardest thing with sourcing new materials, even if they are recycled, is you can never be 100% certain on their origins. I’d never commit to something I wasn’t totally happy with or didn’t know enough about, but there is only so much transparency you can have before you finally say, ‘yes I think this supplier is definitely sustainable’. I question everything, which I don’t think is a bad thing, but there are some things out of my control, like shipping or the exact impact of the dyeing process for the wool.
Do you hope to expand your business in future or are you happy with where you are at?
I make jewellery because I love it and it’s so lovely seeing others share that love. I’d love to expand it, but with a more charitable bent - especially as I’ll have a greater audience when I go to university in September. Currently, £1 of every purchase goes to the Trussell Trust but I definitely would like to do some more charitable work with the brand in the future. Granted, the whole thing began in my mind as more of a creative project so to become a viable business is in itself an expansion.
What has been your favourite part about running your business so far?
By far my favourite part are customers loving the earrings, seeing pictures of them wearing them or, if they’re sending them as a gift, the comments they’d like sent alongside. It makes the work put in so worthwhile - the ways people style them are so fun! It’s also been lovely to participate in amazing causes like What’s A Pound and one of Durham’s charity fashion shows.
What is the one cause that you are most passionate about in terms of sustainability/environmentalism?
I definitely think the cause I’m most passionate about with regards to sustainability is the fashion industry. It does so much damage to the environment, workers and in turn brands encourage over-production and consumerism. I thought for a long time that I wouldn’t make jewellery because it was contributing to the production of new goods that aren’t necessarily needed, but if I can do it in a sustainable way that is both fun, makes people happy as well as making a difference then I think I made the right decision in starting the business.
How do you think people should go about promoting sustainability in their everyday lives?
It’s tricky to say that everyone should promote sustainability in their everyday lives because although individual action is important, governmental action is key to securing a more sustainable future (which is a worrying thought in the face of the exit strategy of COVID, now is crucial). I think that we can all try to do our bit through consuming more consciously, exchanging plastic products for sustainable materials and having a discussion with those around us about making steps. It’s also about promoting the need to systematic change through these discussions - as I’m aware changing our purchasing habits can be a product of privilege.
All images courtesy of Felt Fancy on Instagram.