Handcrafted Homeware, With Care
In Old English, Aerende (pronounced a-ren-day) means “care” or “message”. And a “message of care” is exactly what this stylish online boutique with a social conscience aims to deliver. Launched by Emily Mathieson, the former travel editor at The Guardian and Condé Nast Traveller, UK-based Aerende purveys a range of small-batch, handcrafted homeware. Each piece, cherry-picked by Mathieson herself, is made in the British Isles by people facing social challenges or who have been barred from accessing conventional employment.
“I wanted to run a business in a way I felt was environmentally and socially positive,” she said. “One that I could really feel proud of.” And so she should. Since Aerende’s launch in late 2016, several items in the first range have already sold out, such as a set of woven linen napkins made with sustainable Lithuanian linen and sewn by women refugees who’ve sought asylum in the UK.
Thankfully, Mathieson’s passion for conscious consumption has unearthed a trove of exquisitely designed, socially aware products. A rustic elm chopping board, crafted by people with mental health issues in Edinburgh, would be a fine centrepiece in any kitchen work space. Hand-stitched espadrilles, sewn by disadvantaged women in East London and made with upcycled leather, are great for a summer romp. And a fragrant black poppy and wild fig soap is produced by The Soap Co., a charity arm in the Lake District that employs blind and disabled people.
Aerende has a noble goal of minimising the impacts of consumption and emphasising production methods that benefit society. But at the end of the day, its products “are gorgeous too,” said Mathieson. “And I believe that being surrounded by lovely things is good for the soul as well.”
By Samantha Lee