BEHIND THE BRAND | Vent For Change
Tell us about your brand; what inspired you to start your brand? Where did you get the idea for your products?
In 2014 I bought an aging production line to produce pencils from recycled plastic, after 18 months of improvements to the machinery we were making a million more pencils than we needed for the market we were in. Having been an environmental entrepreneur since 1999 I thought it was time to focus on the people as well as the planet and wanted to use the excess capacity to that end. Pencils are the most iconic educational tool going back centuries and there are millions of children worldwide missing out on the education they deserve. I thought what if we could use the extra pencil we had to help get more children back into school, often it is just a pencil they did to access the education so desperately crave. By 2017 we were giving away tens of thousands of pencils to charities and NGOs globally and running a UK based nationwide education day but we knew more could be done. We decided to create a brand and sell the pencils along with a collection of notebooks into retail. The idea being we could use the money from those sales to support existing education projects and charities worldwide.
How long has your brand been operating? Have you been at Home & Gift before?
We launched the first VENT retail collection at the start of 2019 and it was a huge hit. Sales were fantastic and awards starting coming in, then COVID hit. Thankfully we weren’t carrying huge levels of stocks or overly burdensome costs as we were still so small. We spent those two years developing ideas and designs and relaunched at our first Home & Gift as the restrictions were lifted.
What’s your biggest highlight of owning your brand? Why do you love what you do?
Having your own brand allows you to blend creativity and responsibility without having to answer to anyone else. Creativity in designing beautiful products that people are going to want to have in their bags or on their desks, responsibility being creating ranges that protect the environment and respect the supply chain. Everything we make is produced from recycled and sustainable materials, all produced in the EU or the UK and is socially responsible. That’s hard to do if you’re working for others we an agenda to place profits before purpose.
Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself when you first started out?
I’ve run my own businesses before and thankfully they are still going and supporting VENT, this meant I’d made a lot of my mistakes before embarking on VENT. We’ve made mistakes but if it feels wrong don’t wait and think it’ll get better, act on the mistakes and make the changes necessary before its too late. COVID was obviously a huge challenge but with sensible cost cutting and stock management, not to mention fabulous retailers supporting us, we managed to negotiate our way through.
What can we look forward to seeing from your new collections that you are bringing/launching at Home & Gift?
We’re bringing out a beautiful collection of notebooks with covers produced using a gorgeous fabric made from recycled ocean waste, combined with 100% recycled paper in four muted yet eye catching colourways
Do you have any personal favourites from your new collection?
My favorite changes each time I look through the sampling and the swatches, that’s a good sign, if I’m happy regardless of which one I were given then I’ll take that
What are you most excited for when exhibiting at Home & Gift?
Seeing our wonderful retailers and hearing their feedback, thankfully it’s normally very positive so it’s a joy to catch up with them all, we also love meeting new potential customers and telling them about our journey and what we stand for
How do you operate your brand sustainably?
We ONLY operate our brand sustainably, it’s the very essence of what we stand for alongside our Social philosophy supporting education. We’re all about the people and the planet and every decision from product design to brand marketing has sustainability at it’s core