It’s almost been a year since we travelled to Cambodia! Can you believe it? Time really does fly when you’re having fun.
We came back feeling refreshed, inspired and full of ideas to change the world, one beautiful silk scarf at a time.
Since then I’ve launched the Little Lotus blog and learnt so much about ethical living and the Fashion Revolution, which we are proud to be a part of. I set us up on social media and I’ve ‘met’ so many amazing people, bloggers and brands with big dreams and ethical ambitions from all around the world – isn’t the internet a wonderful place?
Thanks to the incredible support of the Angkor Handicraft Association our first collection has been ethically produced and arrived safely in the UK and we’ve started to sell out already. Check out our store page and if there’s something you’ve got your eye on drop me a message before it’s gone!
We’ll soon be starting talks about collection number 2, and this amazing journey has brought so many opportunities that I could never have imagined. My to do list is now over 2 pages long, and I’ve got a whole notebook full of ideas for the future, so I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on how far we’ve come and what’s going on at Little Lotus HQ:
I absolutely love blogging – as you can probably tell! There’s some amazing bloggers out there in the ethical and sustainable fashion field and I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with a few of them so far.
I’ve become a semi-regular writer for Trusted Clothes, a really inspiring organisation who are bringing together ethical people, organisations around the world to promote ethical, sustainable and healthy fashion. If you’re looking to learn more about the many different ethical issues in the fashion industry, this is your place to be. They’ve got some fantastic and knowledgeable writers so I was really honoured when they invited me to publish on the platform too. Check out my posts here.
The Green Tribe is an online lifestyle magazine promoting wellness, happiness and harmony. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for natural health tips, travel inspiration, tasty recipes or a little pick-me-up. Living ethically can be overwhelming at times, and it can be hard to avoid feeling guilty. Check out my guest post for the Green Tribe and find out how to avoid the guilt and live a more ethical life.
We love connecting with bloggers so much that we’ve decided to launch our own guest blog programme too. We’ll be featuring posts about ethical and sustainable fashion from industry experts and fellow bloggers. Kick starting our programme is Alyssa Couture, an eco fashion and style expert. Alyssa is Design Owner of eco-womenswear brand Alternative Fashion, an eco-womenswear brand and also Founder/Owner of Alternative Fashion Media, an educational platform and news/media network for the industry. She has also founded the Healthy Fashion Campaign which promotes the health effects of fibres and dyes. Check out Alyssa’s post on the leading causes of unsustainable fashion and watch this space – we’ve got some exciting plans to collaborate further!
If you’re an ethical or sustainable fashion blogger and you’ve got an idea for a guest post that would work well on the Little Lotus blog, we’d love to hear from you. Find out more about what we’re looking for in our guest blogging policy and get in touch.
Impact Women – inspiring female social entrepreneurs
The #1MillionImpactWomen campaign is all about taking women out of the shadows and empowering them to lead social change in communities around the world. “Impact Women” is a network of women who are having a positive influence on people and planet and changing people’s world through social enterprise.
I’m really pleased to announce that I’ve recently become an ambassador for the project. We’re aiming to connect over 1 million women social entrepreneurs to learn, lead and change the course of the world by 2020, so if you’re a woman working in social enterprise make sure you get connected – we’re going to be doing amazing things! Find out more and sign up to participate on the website: https://map.ogunte.com/participate
Brands we love
There’s so many great ethical brands out there, we want to help spread the word and encourage people to support small business and shop more ethically. That’s why we’re launching a “brands we love” programme. We’ll be featuring interviews, showcases and reviews on the Little Lotus blog, and we’ll even have some exclusive discounts with some of our favourite brands too.
You might notice some adverts popping up on our site from time to time. We want you to rest assured that we police this carefully to make sure the companies are ethical. We tested the waters with Google Ads, which randomly places adverts on your site – but many of the advertisers didn’t fit with our ethical values, so we pulled the plug. As a result of our “brands we love” programme, we’ll now be manually adding some adverts to the site so that we can bring you the very best ethical products from across the web, but we’ll always screen them for their ethical credentials first.
We’re also setting up some affiliate partner programmes, so from time to time you might notice a sponsored post or product link. Our top priority is delivering informative content about ethical fashion, so we’ll always make sure we stick to our values, and we’ll always screen the brands we work with. We’ve added an advertising and sponsorship policy to our site and we’ll always tell you when a post or link has been sponsored in some way. We’re all about being as transparent as possible to bring you the very best ethical shopping experience!
A few weeks ago I was on Twitter looking for some new ways to promote our blog posts. As you may know, my day job is in marketing, and I’ve had quite a lot of success with local Twitter networking hours (everyone tweets using an agreed hashtag at an agreed date and time – usually once a week. It’s like networking, but you can do it in your PJs on the sofa! What’s not to love), and I thought that surely something must exist for ethical businesses?
#FairtradeHour seems to have had some success but recently it’s gone quiet, and for a lot of ethical businesses the Fairtrade certification is too strict for them to qualify. I was quite surprised that #EthicalHour didn’t already exist, so I jumped on it, bought the domain name, started the Twitter account and got things going!
In our first week we reached over 144,427 unique Twitter accounts worldwide and got 220,738 impressions, and it’s continuing to grow! It’s a great place to meet like-minded bloggers, brands and businesses. Participants have already said that they’ve got new followers and increased impressions from taking part, there’s talk of a real life “meet who you tweet” event for some of the businesses who are in the same area and it’s already led to some great guest blog posts and brand collaborations. If you’re growing an ethical business, want to work with ethical brands, promote your ethical blog or even just find out more about the products and causes that are out there, then #ethicalhour is for you!
We tweet every Monday from 8-9pm (BST) using the hashtag #ethicalhour. Each week we suggest a topic and put it to the vote to give our conversation a theme, and new tweeters are always welcome! Join in live or schedule your tweets in advance to spread the message far and wide.
#EthicalHour brand directory
One very popular #EthicalHour topic was ethical blogging, and we soon realised that it can be hard for bloggers to connect with ethical brands. Connecting with brands is a great way of promoting ethical consumerism and can even generate an income if you’re looking to turn your blog into a business. For brands, it’s a great way of marketing and reaching new audiences. Win win!
We want #EthicalHour to become a network where people can connect and make positive things happen across ethical industries. There were some great conversations going on and people starting to work together, but we were all still frustrated at the lack of central directory which would make things easier.
So again, I jumped right on it! I’m still working out the technicalities, but we’re putting together a list of ethical brands who want to work with bloggers, and bloggers who want to work with ethical brands. A bit like internet dating! Consider it your go-to source for ethical matchmaking. There’s been lots of interest already and if you’d like to be kept in the loop then sign up to the #ethicalhour mailing list and watch this space!
We’ve launched our first collection of ethically made garments from Cambodia – the idea that started it all! They’re selling out fast so check out the store and drop me a message to get your hands on part of this beautiful collection.
We’ve got big plans for the future which include ethical fashion events and pop-up stores, so the Little Lotus collection might be coming near you soon!
Following our passion
Running a small business is not always easy, but it is always inspiring. I can’t believe how far we’ve come in under a year, and I’m so excited to see where next year takes us.
I was really honoured to be interviewed by the Love Anyway project, who were inspired by our business story so far and wanted to share it. Have a read of the interview here.
Watch this space because we’ve got podcasts, webinars and a whole host of interesting projects coming soon to the Little Lotus blog. If you’d like to get involved and work with us, we’d love to hear from you! Comment below or drop us a message.