Have you heard of #justacard week? It’s a great campaign encouraging everyone to support small independent businesses, artists & creators. The name ‘Just a Card’ came from owners of a closed gallery who could have stayed open if everyone who loved their space had bought, you guessed it, ‘just a card’. Read more about it here.
The campaign set up five prompts as an Instagram challenge last week, to raise awareness, celebrate makers and drown out the hyper-consumerist Black Friday madness. It was great to join in and meet loads of other designers, creators and independent businesses through the wave of social media posts. Here's a recap of how our week looked!
Day one called for 10 facts about me. Awkward, but here goes!
- I’m Ruth and I grew up in lovely Hertfordshire.
- At the start of 2012 I left my London job and moved to India ‘for a year’. I stayed for four years and gained a million happy memories, friends who became family, a kilo or two in dosa weight and a very excellent husband.
- We moved from Bangalore to Bangkok where we lived until two months ago. I’m still coming to terms with the price of bubble tea in London!
- I’ve always been a fan of textiles and shiny sparkly things, to the point that my mum tells an embarrassing story about how she used to have to check my pockets after nursery school because I’d try and stuff them full of gold fabric and craft scraps to bring home...
- My dream career for the longest time was to be a costume designer. I’d love to see how that panned out in a parallel universe!
- The name Gold is a Neutral came from a shoe shopping trip with my Bangalore roommate before attending a wedding. It just made so much sense that of course gold would go with everything! It’s very India (never too much sparkle) but also speaks to celebrating the everyday, wearing gold shoes on the regular because why the heck not?
- I was never ‘into babies’ until having my own and now I find him the most fascinating, perfect creature on the planet. Yesterday he used two words together for the first time and I couldn’t be more proud of what they were: “more cheese”.
- I can’t listen to music while I work because I get so easily distracted. Instead I built my website to the sound of rain and rivers and birds thanks to YouTube. Dork, right?
- My favourite country I’ve ever visited (so far) is Macedonia. Lake Ohrid is the absolute bee's knees.
- I cannot be trusted around potatoes in any form. Keep your ice cream & gimme the chips!
Day two was about what the 'Just a Card' campaign means to me personally.
Well, that cute little meme that says ‘when you buy from a small business an actual person does a little happy dance’ - that couldn’t be more true! The support of people willing to buy from a new brand means the world. It feels like solidarity and companionship in working towards a more fair and ethical way of doing business and in celebrating everyone involved in the production chain. I’m so glad you care who made your bag too.
Being able to run this label means I get to stay home with the aforementioned cheese-eating toddler, it means I have a creative outlet alongside peeling spaghetti off the walls, it means I get to meet all kinds of interesting folks. And crucially, when people support me it means I get to invest in and support super talented craftspeople in a dignified and empowering way. Winning!
The prompt for day three was community! Sharing our favourites and sharing the love.
My favourite artist is Gerry Wilmer, pictured above with some of her beautiful work. She is kind and brave and wise, she brings colour to the world and to my life. Her Etsy shop has wonderful prints and cards!
Have a look at my Instagram post for day three to browse a long list of other creative businesses that I love!
If you’re planning to shop from independent sellers this holiday season, THANK YOU. Because it’s never #justacard, it’s always a hug, a happy dance, a pat on the back, a moment of encouragement for someone following their dreams.
Day four of the #justacard campaign was about events. What do we have coming up?
Our first ever market will be the Fair Christmas Fayre 2018 on Oxford Street on December 1st and I'm busy planning the stall and getting all the finishing touches together. It's London's longest running ethical Christmas market and you can start to get sneak peeks by meeting some of the stallholders on the Fair Christmas Fayre blog (including us!).
Gold is a Neutral bags are also in a brilliant pop up shop in Islington. Conceptualised by the creative and passionate folk at Backstage Boutique, 'Review Your Life Differently' is open now until 23rd December at 53 Barnsbury Street in Islington, London. It's a real honour to have our bags there alongside the work of such fascinating, progressive designers, all on a sustainable quest for new technologies and a better use of natural resources.
And finally, day five of 'Just a Card' week was labelled 'indie Friday' with the intention of drowning out the Black Friday madness. Here's what we shared, mulling over that whole situation!
Oh Black Friday! You big beast of consumerist chaos. It's unavoidable even in the UK now (how did that happen?) and is a complex one for ethical retailers: everyone has to make a living - but it's impossible to compete with giant faceless corporations slashing their prices for one day - do you even want to take part in something built on the manic consumption of 'stuff'? - but what if you reach new shoppers and give them a sustainable alternative? - what if you make extra money you can pass on to your producers?
Uff! We don't have a sale today, but we're loving all of the campaigns for an alternative way to shop - #colourfulfriday is our favourite!
Marketing in general is a funny one when your core brand principles go against mindless consumerism. "Buy less, choose well and make it last" sums up our thinking pretty well (thanks, Vivienne Westwood), so if you are making purchases today please do consider supporting small, ethical businesses and bringing some colour back into the marketplace.
Check out #independentfriday, #justacard, #shopethicalinstead, #greenfriday and, of course, #buynothingday.
It was our first time taking part in #justacard week and it was great to connect with likeminded people as well as being prompted to think about the Gold is a Neutral journey in different ways, and to highlight the amazing work being done by my favourite fellow creators. If you're looking to 'shop small' this season do continue to check the #justacard hashtag on social media to discover brilliant alternatives to the high street.