Recent Combined Honours graduate Lou shares their Catalogue of Sustainability and Ethics Certifications to help small businesses and individuals evaluate and improve their practices and choices, after support from START UP and the Careers Service NCL Internships scheme helped them get their business to where it is today.
About Lou and their business
I'm Lou, a non-binary artist based in Newcastle. My drive to utilise art in education is an essential component of my small business Goodstrangevibes, which makes a difference through art in respect to body image, mental health, LGBTQ+ topics and sex education. My art stems from my academic insights and political beliefs as well as my queer identity, past experience of an eating disorder and current experience of Anxiety and OCD.
As part of my business, I sell my artwork on products including upcycled and standard tops, recycled notebooks, stickers, postcards, zines, original art and more. Alongside products, I also create commissioned illustrations for individuals, charities and organisations as well as partake in collaborative projects. Recently, I started curating and running body gratitude art workshops. I absolutely love these as I get to connect more deeply with my audience and facilitate a shared creative experience.
Why ethics and sustainability matter to Lou
In promoting compassion in my artwork, I also want this reflected in my business practices. I want those who make my products to be paid and treated ethically and I want to ensure that environmental welfare is also upheld in my supply chain. This means I have to spend time, energy and resources on which manufacturers I use or who I collaborate with so that I stay true to these values.
How hiring an intern added value
Part of this commitment and desire to continually improve Goodstrangevibes’ ethics and sustainability involved me hiring an intern, Jemima Elliott, as Head of Supply Chain Research. This role involved researching and taking active steps to further improve Goodstrangevibes’ supply chain in terms of workers’ rights and environmental sustainability. I was able to hire Jemima for this month-long internship due to the NCL Internships scheme where Goodstrangevibes was awarded a bursary fully subsidised by the Careers Service.
From day one Jemima exceeded expectations, adding extraordinary value through harnessing her expansive knowledge in labour rights and environmental sustainability in the fashion industry to help find the best suppliers.
Goodstrangevibes’ Catalogue of Sustainability and Ethics Certifications
Jemima’s work culminated in the release of Goodstrangevibes’ third, and most transparent, Climate and Ethics Update as well as a Catalogue of Sustainability and Ethics Certifications to help us to determine the standards that companies adhere to, particularly in relation to environmental sustainability and responsibility, and labour rights.
Our catalogue is a general overview of some of the most prominent certifications, especially for companies based in the UK and Europe, so we can better understand who’s doing what and as a result, who we want to engage with. We wanted to share it publicly so businesses and individuals can use it to evaluate and improve their business practices too.
We hope you find it helpful!