Gah, I love London.
I love it for its buzz and energy, art, history, culture and diversity. Even though I’ve lived on the outskirts for my whole life, I’m always finding different parts to explore and get excited about.
I had a free afternoon today, so popped into the #trendy East End to scout out a couple of ethical start ups. Here are a couple of things to recommend…
#1 Know the Origin Pop-Up Store (Ethical Clothing)
Know the Origin is a fashion brand and company set up by London College of Fashion graduate, Charlotte Instone. After learning some of the horrific realities of the fashion industry, Charlotte founded KTO to prove that beautiful clothing can be made alongside a commitment to ethical production, transparency, and accountability.
KTO has been running a series of pop-up shops over the last few months, and until this Saturday they’ve set up in two spaces at Old Street Station. At the first you can shop over thirty ethically sourced brands including Birdsong London, Henriand Saya Designs. At the second, you can look at a gallery of images showing the entire production process of Know the Origin’s designs while sipping on a Pump n’ Grind coffee.
And the store is beautiful! It’s slick and light and has a gorgeous range of stock to browse through, featuring copious other brands alongside KTO’s own clothes, copies of Ethos magazine, underwear, wallets, and handcrafted jewellery. There were also some snazzy info leaflets about the different brands at the checkout. I loved dropping by, and I love my affordable (£26) striped shirt. If you see me in the next month I will probably be cuddling it.
KTO is at Old Street Station until Saturday 26th August… do go and have a look! And at a very walk-able distance away you’ll find…
#2 Kahaila (Coffee Shop)
I think this might be my new happy place.
Nestled in the middle of Brick Lane, Kahaila opened up its doors in 2012 and I’ve wanted to go ever since the Huffington Post ran a feature.
As you walk in, the overriding feeling is one of *homeliness*. Wooden floorboards, lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling and rich modern artwork lining the bricked walls, acoustic background music, cosy sofas and sunflowers… it’s The Dream.
Kahaila is a church, charity, cafe and community which has founded and supports 3 exciting projects: Reflex (which delivers educational life skill courses for women in prison), Luminary Bakery (giving employability courses for women from vulnerable backgrounds) and Ella’s Home (supporting women who have been trafficked or sexually exploited).
The cafe funds the project, but is its own little beacon of positivity, with boardgame nights, book clubs and a chilled ‘We go to church at 6.30 on Sundays!’ invite on the chalkboard. I’ve never had such a joyful brownie or calming flat white.
If you’re meeting a friend for coffee in London, let me gently nudge you towards Brick Lane (or the branch in Aldgate).
Isn’t social enterprise a wonderful thing? Traffickers and abductors seek to enslave people for profit. These hubs of creativity and community give me hope as they put people first again. And they’re all over the place!
Have you come across any enterprises you think are marvellous? Let us know!