Hidden gems at the Home of Christmas Shopping
Early November saw Kensington Olympia come alive with all things magical and festive for the annual Spirit of Christmas fair. This ‘home of Christmas shopping’ in association with House & Gardens played host to hundreds of exhibitors selling everything from champagne and jewellery to holidays and garden design.
I was lucky enough to be able to join the ‘From Babies with Love’ stand, where Founder Cecilia Crossley had beautifully crafted a display of their new range of organic baby clothes. With all profits going to orphaned babies around the world, what better incentive did I need to roll up my sleeves and offer my support?
With so many exciting businesses under one roof, I took the opportunity to do a recce and see what other social enterprises I could find at the Fair. It didn’t take me long to stumble across Tea People, the speciality tea company that sends 50% of its profits to education projects in tea growing regions. Just a few stands along I found Jollie Goods, a sock business with a mission to support those facing issues of homelessness. My continued hunt led me to Bushbells, my eye caught by the vibrantly colourful kikoy cotton beachwear and clothing. Only when chatting to the team about my recent trips to Kenya did I discover that all their proceeds are supporting educational projects on the Kenyan coast.
The list grew as my explorations continued and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many businesses with a social mission exhibiting alongside the mainstream. Social Enterprise UK statistics have shown that entrepreneurs are choosing to start up social enterprises rather than mainstream businesses – 35% of social enterprises are start-ups, more than three times the proportion of SME start-ups.
This was certainly evident at the Fair and extremely encouraging, but it often took some digging to find those businesses creating social value in their communities. This begs the question - should the businesses be doing more to promote their social impact? Or is it only right that their products are more prominent than their stories? As a Marketer I would always argue that a desirable brand should be priority if a business is to be sustainable. However, in an environment where a captive audience is presented with significant choice, the rules should perhaps be bent and consumers should be given the opportunity to use their purchasing power to make a difference.
This debate could go on, but the fact that hidden gems are thriving alongside mainstream business is reason enough for celebration. I hope that Spirit of Christmas sees the trend continue for many years to come.