This year has been a difficult year for us all, but especially for small business owners. They’ve had to totally turn around their business models during one of the worst recessions this country has ever seen. But, through all this, young creatives have rolled with the punches, and adapted to a new way of working. As the festive season draws near, it’s more important than ever to support the small companies, rather than Amazon and the man who is set to become the world’s first trillionaire.
Amazon’s success, and the success of other huge, fast delivery online stores, results from the modern shopper’s want for both convenience, and the instant gratification of a parcel through your letterbox the next day. Whilst this model is great for Bezos and the other big fish at the top, the quest for low prices when still maintaining large company profits leads to the exploitation of sellers, warehouse workers and the environment.
These mega companies have caused an economic culture centred around the ‘chuck it out and buy another’ consumer mentality pervasive today; low prices are put above quality, subsequently meaning the item breaks after only a few uses and is replaced with another, equally low-quality item. People are locked in this repeating cycle, likely spending more in the long run on multiple cheap items. Rather than spending more on a one-off quality item, people are opting for the cheapest and easiest option, whether that be purchasing a handmade dress from big fast fashion corporations like Missguided over a small business like By Megan Crosby, or purchasing stocking fillers from Waterstones instead of using uk.bookshop.org.
In comparison, oftentimes, small creative businesses are run by a handful of people, who put their heart and soul into products they make by hand, and are motivated not by raking in the big bucks, but by sharing passion for their craft in an ethical and sustainable way. Buying small and handmade, you get a totally unique piece, often customisable or made to measure, accompanied by unparalleled customer service from people who want your item to last as long as possible, rather than the scheduled obsolescence that mega conglomerates and late stage capitalism provide you with.
In addition, these small, cottage industry-type businesses are often run by a tight knit group of friends of family members, so you know that people are being paid a decent wage for their time, no matter whether they’re coming up with product launches or packing orders.
The South London Makers Market (@asouthlondonmakersmarket) is a perfect example of creativity adapting to the current climate. Borne out of the dream of two small-shop-advocating sisters, Daisy and Liv, online markets take place a few times a month, and have absolutely thrived through the current restrictions. Each maker, usually operating out of bedrooms-turned-studios, sets up a digital market stall, featuring the most drop dead gorgeous items from their range, as well as one-off pieces only available at the market.
Their Instagram feed is full of success stories – often students who’re creating and making products along- side their studies. No matter how gloomy and unending lockdown has seemed, browsing through each colourful stall and chatting to sellers on market day reminds me of the resilience and ingenuity of the young creatives.
So, have a day at the (online) market, buy your mum a hand-knit hat (@myivoryroom), your partner a box of brownies (@lustrebakery), and yourself some elegant candles (@alinacandles). After the year we’ve all had, we deserve it, and so do small business owners still pursuing their dreams.
Illustration: Alexandra Barker