‘Let’s stop buying shit we don’t need’
I turn to Beth; “Babe first destination, bar…you’re doing this with a constant glass of champa’s in hand”
10 minutes to finding the bar…bombarded by sales reps for holidays, cakes, dresses, photographers, flowers, hair stylists, calligraphy courses, diamonds, chocolates. Sounds like a perfect shopping list right, I mean it kind of was. Beth was getting married and we had hit her first wedding fair. Giggles, drunkeness and generally gushing was totally expected, what wasn’t that we would meet someone who totally moved us both. Olivia Knight.
Entrepreneur. Feminist. Socialist. Babe. Mum. Wife. Journalist. Blogger. Business owner. Realist. Ex- Agency. Brand strategist. Founder of Patchwork. Now adopted Mentor.
Patchwork, is a platform that lets friends contribute cash, time and skill to make something amazing happen. In the words of Liv’s Nan, “it’s the whip-round love”, its Pinterest meets Kickstarter.
Liv had the idea for Patchwork when planning her wedding in 2010. She already had a family, a home and all the things that come with it. So rather than using a traditional gift list she created a website that let friends and family help to fund their ‘familymoon’ to Cuba. A lift to the airport, money towards air miles, a night’s accommodation. Liv talked about building a business off the back of the idea for over a year. And finally decided to do it when her husband Laurie said that she was getting really boring talking about the idea. So to save both their sanity she says she just had to do it.
“I remember him saying “What’s the worst that can happen? It could fail. It might. But you won’t know till you try. So just stop talking and do it.”
Liv talked to us about when working for big brands her internal conflict between socialism and selling. On starting Patchwork 3 years ago, it has allowed her to align her principles, whilst still looking to make a profit.
“It’s about being collective, creative and resourceful. We just allow people to collect money globally to spend locally on the one thing they really want, and at the same time help keep unwanted gifts out of landfill”.
Liv embraces the ethos that less is more. “Let’s stop buying shit we don’t need and strive to create something more meaningful, richer, better quality. It’s ok to lust or want stuff, but let’s be more mindful in our purchases.”
In recent years there has been lots of discussion around conscious consumerism. The rise in demand for business to be more transparent, adopt ethical practices, reduce their carbon footprint. Whilst I hope to see a growth in business taking such matters seriously. We are still a nation who massively over consume (say’s the girls in advertising!) Annie Leonard, an expert in overconsumption states that ‘the retail manufacturing industry is the second most polluting industry on earth’ and worse than that ‘only 1% of the materials used to produce our consumer goods are still in use six months after sale.’
Patchwork is a platform which not only encourages the reduction of how much we buy, but also is reflective of a changing value system. Money isn’t everything, time is more increasingly becoming such a precious commodity, in the same way that skill and craftsmanship is regaining its respect. It asks you not to just FUND, but MAKE and DO.
Patchwork enables communities and friends to easily commit to making something together. Creating their patchwork ‘piece by piece’. For me, it creates a sense of family spirit, that together we help each other to achieve something we want. Sometimes it’s the small things that we don’t want to ask for that make the big difference. Like how one Aunt donated to ‘just do the washing up’ as her wedding gift!
Patchwork is an incredible platform which I believe has huge potential to revolutionise the way people give. So Christmas is coming, get Patchworking, making, creating!
Finally, aside from Liv coming across a corker of an idea, she also is full of great advice and walking example of balancing parenthood, struggles of a start-up, building a career, finding your voice. So for anyone thinking about starting something, her’s what she has to say:
“Know exactly what it is that you want to start and why. Doing something because you hope it will make money is not really motivating in long term. You need to have a really good reason to carry on at 3am when you’re tired and stressed and skint and want to give up. You’ll never get it quite ‘right’ the first time around and actually that’s ok. Remember it will take three times longer and cost three times more than you think. And then double it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People generally like helping each other so see your request as a gift not a burden. If they can’t help they’ll tell you. But you need to ask.”
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