As a small business owner, I believe that we all have an important part to play in making our brands as sustainable as possible. It’s a work in progress, and every week I’m making new steps to improve processes.
The card collections available are a mix of print to order cards, or printed/finished within a UK printing facility. For all outsourced greetings cards, they’re printed on either FCS Approved board, or recycled card stock, and in some cases both! From January 2020, the glitter card range was moved to production using biodegradable glitter.
The cards that are printed to order are made using board from a Lake District mill. All envelopes for cards are made in Yorkshire.
When you buy a card from the Oh Squirrel website, it will be sent to you without cellophane packaging, unless it’s a badge card or a glitter one. These are sent in compostable cellophane sleeves, which the wording ‘compostable bag’ printed on them. I refrain from sticking stickers on these bags, that way they can go straight on your compose heap. For wholesale orders, some of the cello sleeves on cards aren’t compostable (therefore don’t say anything on them) but as soon as I’ve used up what’s left at the studio, I will only be using compostable sleeves on cards, when they can’t be sold without.
Making Products to Order
Many products from banners through to greetings cards are made to order. Admittedly, this can make busy times of year rather frantic at Oh Squirrel HQ, but it means that for a business with a lot of different products, there isn’t an excessive amount of stock waiting around to be sold. It’s reasons like this as to why I can’t ever offer guaranteed next day delivery, but it makes for interesting days of making, and means that I can launch new products without committing to lots of stock which may or may not sell. A beautiful roll of velvet can be turned into banners, hoops or sashes! And for a sheet of lovely textured card stock (which is made in a mill in the Lake District) it can be turned into one of dozens of different cards.
I work making orders on most days, and call these ‘production days’ - I group tasks together so that I’m using any equipment that uses electricity in batches. This means, for example, I limit sewing to a couple of times a week, and group all products that need to be stitched for production on the same day. And on the subject of production, my lists for what needs to be made tend to go on the back of envelopes or misprinted items I save for this use.
Sometimes things go wrong! And when that happens, if they’re still what I’d deem to be commercial, they go in the seconds box. Once a year (and sometimes at intermittent periods too) there’s a big sample sale to sell them on. This works to reduce waste, and offer products at a lower price as a thank you for your support the rest of the year.
Website orders will be sent in an appropriate sized box or envelope, which is recyclable. Single pouches / pencil cases are sent in a compostable envelope, which will be changed over to card once the current batch runs out. Please remove all stickers before putting any packaging in the recycling bin. I’m using recyclable tape where possible too. For stockist orders, I often reuse boxes from my own deliveries, and have proudly never bought a roll of bubble wrap - I just reuse from deliveries. With offering frames now, I will be sourcing an eco alternative to bubble wrap if I’m not able to repurpose bubble wrap for your orders.
The new boxed greetings card collections are available both with or without gift boxes - I feel strongly that gift boxes should be optional as there's no need to purchase packaging as part of a product if it isn't going to be of use to you. The lovely gingham ribbon being used on the gift boxes is dead stock from another retailer.
From the very beginning of Oh Squirrel, the intention was to design products you’d want to keep; cards you’d like to frame, or special pieces that would be passed on. The party accessories side of the business has undergone a big makeover, with new sashes in the range that can be 'heirloom pieces' and trialling a recycling service on badges. The sashes are all made in the studio rather than imported from overseas.
Oh Squirrel is proudly a small business, and I’m very glad for it to stay this way! Due to the majority of products being made to order, it means I can’t compete with some of the very big mass produced companies which huge warehouses and teams dispatching products stacked up high… but I have no aspirations to be like that. By ordering from Oh Squirrel, you’re supporting a small business who really does care. I want you to be happy with your purchase, and know that real passion has gone into getting it from order through to making and delivery into your hands.
The lovely thing about the community of independent small businesses I have found myself in, is that we help each other. If one of us finds an option that can help others to be more sustainable, then we love to share it - by constantly talking about ways to be better, we can all be better. If you’re reading this and think I’m missing something that you can help with, then I would LOVE to hear from you.