Vendor Spotlight: Elephant Branded

“The idea of Elephant Branded is like The Big Issue in that it is run like business, not a charity, and shows that business can be a force for good.”

That’s the view of James Munro Boon, co-founder of Elephant Branded – a social enterprise that make bags, laptop cases and wallets out of recyclable materials to make a difference.

For every one sold, a child in Cambodia gets a school bag to help them with their studies.

“The idea of Elephant Branded is like The Big Issue in that it is run like a business, not a charity, and shows that business can be a force for good.”

That’s the view of James Munro Boon, co-founder of Elephant Branded – a social enterprise that make bags, laptop cases and wallets out of recyclable materials to make a difference.

For every one sold, a child in Cambodia gets a school bag to help them with their studies.

“To be honest, that’s the only reason I do it,” he says. “I go out there every three or four months and that has been since uni when I was spending all my student loan on flights out there every five or six months.

“I’ve seen kids growing up and have their own children thanks to the work we do. I love spending time there and I think that the really valuable thing is where we support people to run their own business and build their own lives.”

While Elephant Branded faces a constant battle to find new recyclable materials – with a struggle to find a waste material available in high volume that doesn’t vary in quality and consistency – it is constantly attempting to innovate with new products on the way.

But the original three ranges of products are available in The Big Issue Shop.

“As well as the exposure, I think working with The Big Issue adds a degree of credibility,” says James.

“Just like how it is wrong for me to Cambodia and tell people what to do and how to run their business, The Big Issue gives vendors a chance to work their way out of poverty.

“And I think that people who buy The Big Issue have the same ethos and concerns as we do. I’ve met a family in Cambodia that I would never have had a chance to meet and that’s where I see the synergy with The Big Issue.”

Vendor Spotlight: The Social Mercenary

The Social Mercenary

Vendor Spotlight: The Social Mercenary

Founded by Jack Fellows, The Social Mercenary is dedicated to bringing a distinctly West African flavour to modern street apparel. They take an ethical approach to textile manufacturing and have teamed up with social enterprises in Ghana to create a unique range of clothing, bags and accessories. All of their products are manufactured using local fabrics and our business supports local communities to create an incredible set of unique on-trend products.

It all started in Hong Kong when Jack, working in a job he didn’t enjoy living in a room effectively the size of a coffin he began to think of those precious times back in Ghana and back to those beautiful fabrics that so inspired him and, the amount of attention and praise he got for his new, quirky backpack.

It took time but day after day Jack shared this message with others and at one particular fair, was dragging people in through the door in order to tell people about his mission. “On the days that I didn’t have meetings I took a suitcase full of bags and flyers down to the local universities and just set up and told my story to EVERY single person that walked past”. After time Jack began to sell more and more bags and was even picked up by news journalist Alessandro Meccheri that studied at Hong Kong University.

Jack then managed to make enough money to go back to Ghana, where he met Ethical Apparel Africa. He found with the first set of backpacks that they were all so different and that quality wasn’t consistent throughout. After several meetings with EAA they have redesigned the backpacks for superior quality.

Vendor Spotlight: GLOW


Vendor Spotlight: GLOW

Founded by Comet Chukura, who graduated from The London College of Fashion, GLOW enables you to stand with those who are vulnerable, as you stand out at night. Each piece is individually handmade by disadvantaged women, providing them with an opportunity to gain work skills, a supplementary income and be part of a greater community. GLOW aims to empower their makers, paying them a fair wage, utilising their established skill set and enabling them to believe and realise their value.

Glow Agape White Hat

The light reflective accessories range are expertly crocheted using a cutting-edge wool blend that has a 15% glass fibre component woven into it which is light reflective. Meaning in the daytime, the pieces look trendy whilst at night, the glass fibre elements reflect light: car light, road lights etc and come to life, illuminating the wearer as light bounces off of it. The delicate knit texture makes it soft to the skin and luxurious to wear making it a unique gift that looks good and feels good.

Vendor Spotlight: weareone:collective

WEAREONE Collective Drop Earrings Not Bombs

Vendor Spotlight: wearareone:collective

weareone: collective is a network of change makers who collaborate, innovate and share skills and resources to enable social change. Aimed at addressing social injustice, the collective focuses on bringing together individuals, groups and organisations from humanitarian, business and creative sectors, to collaborate on developing innovative programs which facilitate skill sharing opportunities.

Founded by Saleh Rifaie and Pru Waldorf in 2016 following a year of intensive volunteering on the ground in Greece working with refugee communities, the ethos behind the group is to give agency, not aid. It was conceived to address the lack of enrichment activities and self-development orientated projects provided for people who are refugees.

weareone:collective facilitates participatory enrichment projects with marginalised communities which have a real and a lasting impact and allows them the opportunity for agency and self-development , rather than keeping them dependant on handouts.

WEAREONE Collective Drop Earrings Not Bombs

The Drop Earrings Not Bombs project is one such project. The aim of this project is to create a space for colour therapy, community building, and artistic expression. Each pair of these handmade DROP earrings is a unique display of creativity and design, a story told through the eyes of a person who has been through more than anyone in life should experience. All those taking part are refugees for various reasons including war and political turmoil.

100% of the proceeds from the Drop Earrings Not Bombs project goes back into Small Projects Istanbul, a community space and program which provides the refugee community with access to supplemental education and programs that assist students and families from Syria succeed in Turkey and beyond, paving the way for better futures.

Handmade Drop Earrings Rainbow

Vendor Spotlight: Sweet Cavangh

Vendor Spotlight: Sweet Cavangh

The cost of inpatient care is staggering and the strain on the NHS means that many people do not get the help they desperately need. Patients leave treatment early, not because they are ready but rather, because facilities and services run out of funding. Sweet Cavanagh hopes to combat this issue by filling the gap in the services currently provided by the private and public sector.

Based in Notting Hill, Sweet Cavanagh jewellery is handmade in London by women recovering from eating disorders and addictions. Designing and creating each unique piece provides a therapeutic outlet for the women that is enhanced by more formal therapy groups, all of which is free of charge for those in need.

As part of their four-month program, women are able to have access to individual and group therapy, drama and movement therapy, and individual and group nutritional counseling with a registered dietician. They also run a “Work to Recover”, in which they partner with London based recruitment agency, Sidekicks, to offer monthly workshops on CV writing and interview coaching. Graduates from the recovery program also have the opportunity to be placed in internships with the aim to eventually getting full or part-time work placements.

Many of the jewellery pieces are one-offs, so they are perfect as a one-of-a-kind gift. To see the full collection, click here.