What it is
Aerende is an online shop selling beautiful, hand-crafted homewares made in the UK by people facing social challenges.
Our products are desirable and useful, and tap into the increasing desire for consumers to buy objects that come with stories and resonance. They also provide opportunities for our makers by enhancing self-esteem, providing meaningful activity and raising revenue for skilled people who are unable to access conventional routes into work. The benefits of this retail model, both for customers and suppliers, is why we've chosen the strapline 'life-improving homewares'.
We like to think of it as a refreshing antidote to the impersonal nature of mass-produced, high-street products and an innovative way to celebrate under-appreciated talent.
How we're going to do it
The founder, Emily Mathieson, has travelled the country meeting makers who are supported by organisations both big and small. By understanding their diverse needs, Aerende can provide a considerate business partnership that recognises and appreciates low-volume production and values the time and skill involved in hand-making items.
Our website is stylishly photographed and simple to use, making for a positive retail experience that taps into the growing trend for unique, limited items with a high social value. We believe in being transparent and honest. Product descriptions will detail not only the makers but also the materials and techniques that goes into the creation of each item. By purchasing items upfront and fulfilling all orders, we limit risk and pressure on our makers and offer a reliable source of income. Because we're confident our customers will understand how our pricing will reflect the above, and because we know they care about the world, we can spend a little extra on fully compostable packaging.
Aerende will operate as a social enterprise, with social and environmental benefits at the core of our business. All profits will be reinvested in the company, the makers it supports and the creative projects it promotes. To this end, Aerende has been set up as company limited by guarantee, which means it cannot operate for the profit of any individual or be sold for profit.
Why we need your help
We have our launch suppliers and items in place, and have started building our website but we need your help to get things off the ground. Your donations will be used to buy stock, photograph it, buy packaging materials (from British eco-friendly suppliers) and host the website so we can start selling. We'll keep you posted and if all goes according to plan, Aerende should be fully up and running in July. By keeping things small and flexible, we'll iron out any teething issues before we begin our press and marketing campaign, and can easily launch new items and add makers to the site as we find them. (If you are someone – or know someone – making a product you think we should stock, do get in touch).
Risks and challenges
Aerende has become my life, but as a kitchen-table organisation and staff of one (me!) meeting the needs of my other job (the one that pays the mortgage) means a lot of juggling. This is a challenge that can be overcome with your help - by supporting this crowdfunding project you'll enable me to drop some of the balls and focus on making the business the success I know it can be.
The nature of the business means we'll inevitably only be ordering small batches of items. We will make customers aware that most of our products will effectively be limited edition and though we will try hard to maintain stock, we may sometimes sell out of some items. We believe this will be testament to the desirability of our collection and hope that out customers will take pleasure in the delayed gratification of waiting for a unique, hand-made product to love, rather than something that comes mass produced from a factory. Of course, it's also an incentive to 'buy it now, avoid regret later'.
Our business and financial planning foresees Aerende turning a profit within the first year but slow growth is imperative to the success of the business. We also have big ambitions and great collaboration ideas but need to consolidate the core elements of the business before building on it.