Barker And Stonehouse

The United Kingdom is an old nation with a broad history of entrepreneurs. And sometimes, businesses pass through generations whilst keeping a family-centric vein and fusing in an increasingly modern approach. One such company, with a rich history and energetic future ispost-war-founded furniture retailer Barker and Stonehouse.

Barker and Stonehouse was first founded in 1946 by two Royal Air Force veterans, Charles Barker and Alex Stonehouse. After enduring the trauma of WWII, the two friends dreamt of bringing a bit of pizzazz to British homes after the dreary years of the war. In the time since, Barker and Stonehouse has remained a family company, with the Barker side buying Stonehouse out in the 1970s. They’ve also grown considerably too, since starting out on Stockton-On-Tees in the ‘40s, expanding around the north-east with stores on Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Gateshead, Darlington, Hull, Knaresborough, Leeds and Nottingham – ultimately reaching London. The brand has also been able to be agile and nimble enough to change with the times, shifting towards a more conscious approach to retail. 

Over the past decade, Barker and Stonehouse has vowed to become more sustainable, with some well-meaning initiatives. For starters, they’re founding members of Trees4Trees, a reforestation initiative in Indonesia. Focused on helping the environment, Trees4Trees doesn’t just plant new trees in deforested areas, they also host educational programmes on communal reforestry, advocating for a more responsible treatment of trees. Indonesia is arguably one of the world leaders in sustainable forests, with government policies aimed at reforestation and a solid commitment to transition to a low-carbon economy. Many British and European furniture brands have joined the Indonesian efforts towards responsible forest management to create durable pieces that respect our Earth.

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Sustainable Toy Brands For Mums Looking To Break The Plastic Cycle – Tenderleaf Toys

Sustainability isn’t just the basis of my work in fashion: it’s a guiding force in my life. I make a very conscious effort to navigate the world through environment-friendly practices, such as trying to cut back on plastic consumption in all areas of life. When I became a mother, this way to see things came with an extra responsibility: I am now raising a small human to be aware of his direct impact on the planet. I wanted to pamper my child with beautiful and fun toys, of course, but I also wanted the things that surround him to be meaningful. And so the quest to find sustainable toys began.

As a new mum, I have a set of basic standards when it comes what I want my baby to play with. I’m looking for nice-looking toys that can help him through each stage of development, but I also need toys that will entertain him and keep him safe, which quickly eliminates more than a few brands that still use toxic components. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a synthetic plastic polymer with tons of harmful additives, has long been used to build toys, and it hasn’t been entirely phased out yet. Some of the biggest brands in the world continue to use this hard-to-recycle and dangerous plastic, which is good enough reason for me to steer away from those companies’ products. Unfortunately, crossing out brands that use harmful chemicals also diminishes the umbrella of options and so when it comes to eco toy sets, I am not there yet!

Finding environmentally sound toy brands with ethical work practices can prove somewhat difficult, even in Europe and the US. The amazing thing is that we’re getting an increasing number of choices, which in turn means they’re not a luxury anymore. Celebrities and royalty aren’t the only ones who can afford sustainable toys for their toddlers and growing children at this point, as there’s a growing variety of more affordable options. There’s no need for children in general to grow up surrounded by PVC and who knows what other toxic components.

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Harley and Lola, impeccably sustainable

More than anything else, I believe in the relationship between fashion and sustainability. My personal quest on conscious living began designing and producing clothes ethically, and it has expanded to every corner of my everyday life – or I try my best for it to! There’s no reason living as sustainably as possible should mean drifting away from aesthetics, even when it comes to the customisation of our spaces – in fact, it should be quite the contrary. When redecorating my home, I was glad to see that sustainability has permeated the furnishings industry for a while, and the that the trend is still very much growing. When researching about sustainable British furniture brands, one happily kept popping up: Harley & Lola. While mostly focused on retail, they also have their own brand, which offers a comprehensive range of natural candles and diffusers, wood and Capri leather furniture. 

Take a look at the Harley & Lola website, you will know pretty instantly that this is a brand with a vision for our planet. On the homepage, centre stage, you’ll find information on their Green Scheme, a programme dedicated to being friendly towards our environment, by keeping their emissions as low as possible. Fully focused on responsible handling of their own carbon emissions as a business, Harley & Lola has a strong will when it comes to lowering their impact. Their environmental scheme consists of two major steps: carbon neutral delivery and free CarbonClix for every lb spent on their store. 

While it’s nearly impossible to fully eliminate the negative carbon imprint of shipping (products will always need to be moved around, most often in polluting trucks), this company is truly dedicated to offsetting emissions. The initiative is simple yet effective and when purchasing with Harley & Lola, customers have the option to choose carbon neutral delivery. Then, the company commits to balancing things out by either planting new trees or building green energy plants, whether they’re hydroelectric, solar or wind-based.

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Notre Monde give me goosebumps

Despite how it may seem, I am a housecoat and when work seasons get intense, I appreciate my time at home that little bit more. Being home means getting the chance to get “sit in” of everyday life, which feels a blessing when I’ve lost that sense of normalcy for a few weeks. That’s part of why I wanted to re-decorate my home in a way that made it feel almost like a sanctuary, an oasis. And finding a brand with a traveller’s heart like Notre Monde made all the difference!

Founded by American self-taught artist Dawn Sweitzer in 1997, Notre Monde designs stem from her art and travels. Her biggest inspirations are cultures from around the world, and she pours her experience with colours and the feelings evoked by certain places into her art. Back in 2013, Notre Monde became part of the larger Ethnicraft Group, thus expanding its reach. The merger also gave Notre Monde a new crew of artisans from all over the world, most particularly from their large factory in Java, Indonesia. Notre Monde works towards doing everything in-house: designing, producing and distributing its products.

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Pure Thoughts, a Britain-Made Alternative to Conventional Candles

I love having candles around the house, particularly those that work their aromatherapy magic. However, I also have an infant at home, and my number one priority is always keeping the safest environment possible for him. Having a small child has made me hyper-aware of the number of mainstream things that contain harmful chemicals, and scented candles are no exception. Babies are highly sensitive to smells and chemicals, and it turns out that traditional candles release a lot of toxins when they’re burning. With that knowledge, my quest to find natural candles that wouldn’t jeopardise the health of my family began: the last thing I’d ever want to do is pollute the air inside the safe space of my home.

As an aromatherapy lover, I’m looking for soothing smells whenever I search for candles. Meanwhile, as a firm believer in sustainability, I also need to find a brand that matches ethical standards. Lastly, as a mum, I’m looking for something that the grownups in the house can enjoy that doesn’t come close to harming the little one. I’m happy to say that, after searching for a while, I’ve finally found the perfect brand: Pure Thoughts. Read more…

Kalinko – Knowledge and Skill at its finest…

While it’s easy to think of sustainability as merely the act of ‘doing things’, like when we’re walking instead of driving, or remembering to turn off the light switches, but committing to it as a lifestyle means taking a lot of things into account. An all-around awareness of our own carbon imprints is essential, as is looking to purchase environmentally friendly products for everyday life. One thing that is easy to overlook when it comes to lifestyle and home furnishing is the importance of craftsmanship traditions, ones that have gone on for centuries, respectful of their surroundings and constant despite the ever-changing times. The couple behind Kalinko are lovingly focused on this precise part of the complex sustainable design equation.

Londoners Sophie Garnier and her husband had been living in Myanmar for over a year when they decided to create Kalinko. Sophie fell in love with the beautiful craftsmanship she found while travelling around Burmese towns. She realised that incredibly talented artisans, with generations worth of knowledge, had been left behind by industrialisation decades ago, nearly forgotten in remote villages. She then took it upon herself to become a bridge between the Burmese craftspeople and British consumers, connecting both cultures in a way that would have been infinitely more challenging otherwise. The Kalinko mission is simple: bringing beautiful and traditionally made Burmese handicrafts to the European public, and particularly the British one.

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An Urban Oasis of Luxury at AKA, the Perfect Place for a Longer Los Angeles Stay

Los Angeles is a great town, but that comes with a few hiccups: it’s also noisy and it can even feel altered. The iconic California city might be full of palm trees and have the joy of places by the ocean, but it’s no less a great metropolis. So, while it’s a lovely vacation spot, it can be a little tricky to find peace here, particularly for a couple travelling with a baby.

We needed to stay at a place where we could enjoy the vibe of the City of Angels without compromising a quiet time. We weren’t just craving luxury, we needed a lodging that we could call home, even entertaining guests. AKA gave us exactly what we craved, and then some.

The AKA Collection specializes in creating luxury accommodations for long-term stays, and they have venues in a few major U.S. cities as well as London. There are two AKAs in Los Angeles: one is in Beverly Hills and the other in West Hollywood. We stayed at the latter, and couldn’t have asked for a better location. We were in the midst of the thriving L.A. life, and we had no problem reaching the nearby local hotspots, from Mel’s Diner to Fred Segal. It’s one of the most walkable areas in L.A., so it was easy for us to get around without spending time in traffic – plus, of course, reducing our carbon imprint if only a little. Still, it wasn’t the prime location that made me fall in love with this place, but rather its truly cosy feel.

Our stay at AKA was absolutely incredible. First of all, the staff is among the most wonderful I’ve ever encountered in any kind of lodging. Every single person who works at AKA has a real dedication to service, from the reception to the cleaners. Everyone was very professional and friendly, making an effort in giving us the feeling of home. I was with my husband and our baby of eight and a half months, and when you’re with a small child, you need all the comfort you can get. The staff was quick to remember our preferences, always going the extra mile to make our stay as pleasant as possible. Read more…