Remind us who is the team behind Been Bags?
We’re a small all-female team, based here in London Fields, East London. At the moment it’s just four of us - Hannah looks after our comms, Mal makes sure all materials are ordered on time and all production runs smoothly, Darya looks after our sourcing and I do everything in between. I absolutely love our team - its a bunch of people who really care and have often traded very successful careers at leading brands to join us because of our mission and how we approach everything we do.
Our amazing makers are based in Stratford , just around the corner, and all packaging and postage is taken care of by an amazing social enterprise training Londoners with learning disabilities.
How has 2020 been for you personally, what are your reflections?
It’s been tough on a personal level as I have two young children who were off school for a good part of the year (and are now as I’m typing this!). But what we managed to do at BEEN London has been incredible and in some weird way the pandemic created the time and the headspace to do really big, important things. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was measuring the carbon footprint of our bags and comparing it to a high street equivalent’s footprint. We partnered with Terra Neutra and just got the results - turns out our bags have just 1/10th of the footprint compared to leather ones available on the high street. The difference alone is the equivalent of leaving the lights on for almost a year. I’m really happy we can now share this with our customers and show them what a huge difference they’re making.
How has Covid affected your small business?
Incredibly it felt like people actually turned to brands like ours preferring thoughtful, locally made fashion to larger brands. For which I’m incredibly grateful. We didn’t have to lay anyone off or go on furlough and kept the makers busy whenever it was safe to do so.
How have you had to adapt?
I think this year brought us even closer to our extended family - makers, material manufacturers and our community. This kept us sane!
Social impact is an important part of your business - How has this been affected?
The first lockdown meant that some of our packaging team - vulnerable young adults with Down Syndrome and autism - had to self isolate, which we knew would have been extremely lonely. We quickly emailed our community saying we could pass on any words of support and received an avalanche of the kindest messages from around the world!
Lastly, some positive learnings from 2020?
For me personally 2020 will go down in history as the year of community. Seeing how we can support each other when we come together is so so beautiful.