small business love

Small Businesses Make The World Go Round

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has been devastating for so many people. But in times of adversity, we have to try and focus on the positives. We have had to slow down and learn how to be patient again, waiting in hope for the situation to improve. I personally have learned to look for small things every day that I am grateful for and to deeply appreciate them. Many small businesses have been forced to close, and for those that are able to stay open, it has not been an easy ride. The result however has been new-found support for small businesses around the nation - helping them to thrive and stay afloat. 

The small business happy dance

Small businesses are generally thought to be the backbone of a healthy economy. By spending money at a privately owned local store, or online store, that money directly helps the people who own the business and when an order comes in, we small business owners genuinely do a happy dance! So many small businesses have had to pivot quickly, change their tactics and adapt which is pretty admirable. Giving up for many is not an option, we just need to find a new way through. I wanted to highlight some amazing small businesses and individuals that have brought me joy over the past year. 

Harriet’s of Hove 

Harriets has a special place in my heart, as it was the first ever zero waste shop to stock my plantable cards. Plant-based and plastic-free, it’s the home to all manner of sustainable goodies. Harriet's of Hove had been up and running for over a year and a half when the pandemic hit and turned their small business as they knew it upside down. But they pivoted, they remained open with new measures in place and recently set up an online shop to continue to serve the local community. They are an absolute small business gem.

Barnaby Edgley 

Barnaby is my partner and also happens to be a very talented photographer. Given we weren’t able to leave Brighton for the majority of last year and this year, he has needed to be rather inventive to seek out new and interesting perspectives. His light painting shots are like nothing I had ever come across before, as he uses long exposure to create ethereal and unique scenes. We are also very fortunate to witness Murmurations in Brighton, which locals will be very familiar with and he recently captured their sunset dance in the form of a heart! What a moment to get on film. I’ve been very lucky to get creative alongside him over the last year. Check out his work here. 

MyCharleston 

Elena and Fiona have run Charleston courses and lessons for the last few years and they have built an amazing community of people who love dancing and all things 1920s. With all the classes usually being held in person, this created a huge problem for them and they had to adapt and put all their courses online when the pandemic hit. Despite taking part from their living rooms, these weekly dance classes were a life-line for a lot of people. Elena held free morning stretching sessions for her community as well as themed Friday Night Lockdown dance parties to spread more joy during the week. They have diversified into street jazz, solo jazz and musicals. I took part in one of the street jazz courses last year and laughed so much...mostly because I realised I have two left feet, but it’s the taking part that counts!

Myshrooms

Myshrooms is a fellow zero waste small business that I came across a few years ago. I met the founder, Ayelen at a Zero Waste Christmas Market in 2019 and loved her whole ethos; healthy and delicious snacks packed with medicinal mushrooms. By incorporating mushrooms into the recipes, we’re able to improve and maintain good health. Egyptians, Shamans, and Chinese Emperors used medicinal mushrooms in ancient times, to consume their healing properties. Ayelen started doing deliveries in London at the start of Lockdown and I sent a few friends some boxes of their brownies to bring them some joy. Ayelen has all sorts of sweet treats available for delivery in London so check them out for a treat to yourself or to send to friends. 

Rat Betty 

Millie Hand is the designer behind Rat Betty, an independent jewellery brand from Brighton. She designs and makes all the pieces herself and they are all made from 100% certified recycled silver and Fair Trade Gold and uses all recycled packaging too. She’s created such head-turning designs and statement pieces. I’ve loved following Rat Betty and seeing what she comes up with next. 

Making dreams come true

Running a small business myself, I understand and appreciate the rollercoaster ride that every small business owner experiences. Your day can start extremely well but can quickly transcend into something very different by the afternoon, or vice versa. One day I received a stockist inquiry from Selfridges in the morning and then 5,000 plantable cards arrived at the wrong address by 2 pm in the afternoon. Check out our latest range of art prints here. It’s hard work, and for many people, it’s a labour of love and is a result of them not wanting to give up their passion. By purchasing something from a small business, you are literally supporting someone’s dream. We can’t do much at the moment, but knowing we can help support people in those small ways is a wonderful thing. 


Eco-Friendly Cards

Buying Plantable Cards Creates Real Change

50% of the world’s forests have been cut down, and with that comes a vast array of issues from desertification, soil erosion, increased greenhouse gases in the environment, increased flooding and drought from the barren land, as well as devastating effects to the surrounding communities. I wanted to find a way of helping projects around the world, which would make real change to not only the environment, but also the communities of people who live there. I came across Tree Nation and discovered the amazing tree planting projects they have set up. They run 30 tree planting sites around the world, and have planted an incredible 7,629,991 trees so far. 

One order = one tree planted

Towards the end of last year, I started to think about how to maximise the impact of Loop Loop. I wanted to use the purchasing of plantable cards, not only to grow flowers to help the bees, but to make an even bigger difference. I thought how incredible it would be if we could plant a tree with every order.  So in November, we became one of Tree-Nation’s partners and started to do just that. Thanks to all of your orders of plantable cards, we have planted 778 trees so far, as part of a reforestation project in Madagascar. That equates to 0.26 hectares of land and 15.56 tonnes of carbon captured. At the end of every month, we will work out how many orders of plantable cards and Loop Loop products have been made and then make a donation. You can see Loop Loop’s growing contributions to this project here. 

Environmental change through tree planting 

As forests are restored in Madagascar, disasters like flooding and erosion are reduced. Soil quality, fisheries, and farming improve, and wildlife returns to their natural habitat. Tree planting has an incredible environmental impact. Tree-Nation outlines the plethora of benefits here, which includes;

  • Purifying the water and locking more water in the soil by filtering it through tree roots. This process prevents erosion and reduces the risk of flooding. 
  • Securing water supply, as a third of the worlds large cities water supply rely on water from protected forests
  • Purifying the air and providing humans with oxygen. It’s estimated that 1 acre of trees can provide the oxygen requirements of 12 people for a year! 
  • Absorbing carbon and other harmful gases from the atmosphere
  • Creating shade which in turn cools the earth 
  • Spending time in nature and around trees improves our mental health
  • Providing habitats for fauna
  • Tree roots prevent the soil from eroding and provide much needed shelter for the soil underneath

Social change through tree planting

The social impact is equally as important as the environmental and enables members of the community, who are living in extreme poverty, to earn a fair wage. As a result of their participation in the projects, they are able to afford daily essentials like clothing, food, medicine and shelter. 

Through the Eyes of an Employee

Through the establishment of this reforestation project in Madagascar, the quality of the employees' lives and their families is vastly improving. An employee of the project, Justin, shares his experience of joining the project here. Prior to working with Tree-Nation, he was a rice farmer and a charcoal maker but could never make enough money to feed his family and he would often lose sleep due to his financial worries. In 2019, Tree-Nation opened up a new site near him and he allowed them to build a 100,000 pot nursery on his property. He has now taken the lead role on the project and is able to feed his family without worrying. Justin said,“I feel happy. It is like the sun is rising on my life. My heart is lit up as I am old, and I can make a living.” 

Every single order of seed cards, prints or notebooks through the website directly helps improve the environment and the quality of people’s lives, just like Justins. Check out the range of Loop Loop plantable cards here. 


Mindful colouring printable

Using Mindful Colouring to Ease Anxiety During Lockdown

Life is far from exciting at the moment and feels very much like groundhog day. The nuances in our days could be as small as whether you go right or left out of your door for your daily exercise, which side of the table you might sit on for work, and what you are going to have for dinner. Life has become somewhat monotonous and if you experience anxiety, this may be heightened even more at the moment. I wanted to share why mindful colouring could be a simple way to relieve lockdown-induced-stress and anxiety. 

I first started drawing and painting in my free time when I went travelling and actually ended up losing my entire sketchbook of drawings on a boat somewhere near the Komodo Islands in Indonesia. It mysteriously disappeared and my feeling was that someone pushed it off by accident. I had been drawing in this sketchbook for 6 months and it had all sorts of characters sketched out for a children’s story I was writing at the time. This situation for me was stressful, but to get through it, I felt the only thing to do was to buy another sketchbook, and start drawing and painting again. 

Years later, I am still drawing and design all the illustrations for the plantable cards for Loop Loop, which happens to be my favourite part. I still use drawing and colouring as a method to relieve anxiety and started to wonder why this is so effective. I started looking into the recent trend of mindful colouring. This was essentially what I was doing and was amazed to see how science backed up its usefulness. Psychologists and Neuroscientists have been studying mindfulness for decades and it is certainly something that’s been discussed a lot more recently as a means to manage stress in our lives. 

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

There are a myriad of benefits to incorporating a mindful practice into our lives. It can induce a state of relaxation which can have a hugely positive impact. It also: 

  • Lowers anxiety
  • Increased awareness and attention
  • Makes it easier to focus
  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Induces feeling of calm and clarity 

Studies have shown that mindfulness can help those suffering from depression by allowing people to take a step back from intrusive thoughts and feelings, and observe and recognise them without being overwhelmed by them. 

What are the benefits of mindful colouring?

There are so many ways to practice mindfulness, it can be done during practically any activity by bringing your entire awareness to the activity in hand. Mindful colouring is an amazing way to bring the benefits of mindfulness into your life. The literal act of doing it calms your amygdala, which is the part of our brain where the fear response is. It can lift your mood and help you become more grounded in yourself as opposed to caught up in your head. This is something which all of us need from time to time, or for some should be a practice which we embed into our daily lives. 

How do I start mindful colouring? 

Firstly create a relaxing space for yourself to work on, this could be clearing the area, lighting a candle or even making yourself a cup of tea. Try and clear your mind from any thoughts about tomorrow or yesterday. This can be hard at first, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Whilst you are colouring your mind will probably wander, this is perfectly normal! You can ground yourself again by focusing your attention on the act of colouring. 

If you feel your mind wondering, ask yourself these questions:

  • How does the pen feel in your hand? Is it cold? Is it smooth on your fingers? 
  • How does your hand feel next to the paper you are colouring in? 
  • Which colour do you want to choose for the leaves? 
  • Which colour do you want the circles to be? 

Hopefully you will experience a sense of calmness where you’re not thinking about anything stressful, and instead are solely focused on the colouring. This gives your mind some time to relax, away from worry or stress… It’s just you and the colouring page. 

Why not try it yourself by downloading our FREE colouring sheet. We would LOVE to see your creations, so take a pic and tag @think_looploop on Instagram, and we will share our favourites onto our stories.