Chicken Doorstops, Snake Draught Excluders and Catnip Mice – three of our favourite products here on ECOutlet and all born from the minds of Kerry and Nick Robertson. We recently caught up with Kerry for a chat who filled us in on the origins of their eco-friendly creations.
Your products are all made with vintage and reclaimed fabrics and attention is paid to ensure all packaging is biodegradable or recyclable. What motivated or inspired you to set up business in the green sector and work in an environmentally conscious manner?
When we set up in 2005 we thought that if this was going to be our business then it should reflect our ethics and concern for climate change. If we were going to go into manufacture and retail whatever we did had to have a minimal impact on the environment.
From the beginning we started to design things with that in mind, using recycled vintage fabrics, sizing objects so that there would be little waste or creating items that could be made from the offcuts. Even the idea of making the chicken doorstops flat packed was born out of the wish to have something that was light to transport so that we didn’t need to drive our car to Greenwich Market every weekend – now we can take the bus! Creatively speaking, thinking in that way gives us a definable boundary to work within so we’re not blinded by options, for example we may never have come up with the buckwheat hulls as stuffing for our snakes if we hand not been looking for a sustainable, biodegradable alternative and it turns out that they work far better than the traditional fibre filling.
The materials you use are described as vintage and reclaimed. Can you give us an idea of what types of uses they might have had before or the kinds of places you source the fabric?
For the last 5 years I have built up quite a hoard of fabric which I source from markets, ebay and secondhand shops. I can spot what I’m looking for in a instant, the design for our funky chicken doorstop was based around the repeated patterned fabrics that were very fashionable in the sixties and seventies so if I see any of that whether it be on a pinny, tablecloth or pair of curtains, I grab it and will have it fashioned into a chicken in no time.
All the items are handmade here in the UK by yourselves. How important is this aspect of the business to you?
We are very proud of the fact that we have not outsourced the manufacture of our products to China or India which would really be defeating the object – though even if we wanted to I don’t know if it would be possible to send an old pinny to china and have it come back as a chicken doorstop!
The snake draught excluders are definitely in my top three eco products of all time. Do you have a favourite eco friendly product?
My favourite eco friendly product has to be the good old sewing machine – it’s amazing what you can do with one – make and mend and even start a whole new career. If I was a purist I would get an old peddle-powered singer but I may not get much work done.
If you could give our readers one eco tip to incorporate into their lifestyles this month what would it be?
If you want your perfect pair of jeans to stay on the right side of worn and you don’t want the thread bare bits to turn into rips iron on some mender to the inside, something like korbond, you can get it from the supermarket and it’s a super easy way to extend the life of a garment.
Finally, which came first the chicken or the snake?
Now that would be telling.