Inspired by a fateful scuba diving trip, where she encountered a gyre of plastic firsthand, Debbie Rees went on to create Tabitha Eve Co from her home in Cardiff - simply to make eco-friendly supplies accessible to more people. Over the past year, Tabitha Eve Co has grown with overwhelming support.
Debbie was one of the first people I met on my path to starting Authentic House, and a real inspiration for me. It's brilliant to feature Tabitha Eve Co again this month and share their story:
What does your business offer?
Beautiful, zero-waste products for people who want to lead a less wasteful lifestyle.
How did it begin?
I started because I was using a lot of sandwich bags and disposable nappies with my girls. As a scuba diver, I experienced first hand the damage packaging is doing in our oceans and coral reefs. I talked to people and realised alternatives weren't easily available. Tabitha Eve Co was born to help people make sustainable swaps easily and make a difference in this world.
What's your approach to sustainability?
I try to source my fabrics locally from British-made companies. I get organic cotton from a cooperative in Kerala. Where possible, I choose materials that are manufactured locally to reduce our carbon footprint.
Everything I create is long lasting and, when worn out, they're recyclable and compostable. You'll never see me send anything out in a plastic bag.
What's it like running your own business?
I'm still in the middle of it all. Its hard work! I'm proud of starting and making more people aware of the need to reduce waste in our lifestyles. I feel like I'm helping people make a difference.
We've been trading now for 14 months. Our fast expansion was the big thing - we've been able to open a new studio and grow our product range. I'm pleased I can now employ two people - the first is a mum who works with me flexibly around her childcare provision and the second is a school leaver taking an apprenticeship. She's here to get some work experience ahead of taking a fashion course at university in September.
My products have always been shipped in minimal packaging, but being able to buy wholesale now means that I can reduce the packaging I receive from other companies even further!
What's the process from idea to product?
First I'll make a couple of rough and ready product versions to use around my own house. I'll trial them and wash them. That first experience helps me tweak the design and the way the product is sewn to make it more robust. Then I'll give a sample to a friend to use. She'll use it for a week. If it's fine, I'll launch from there. It's really a process of trial and error.
People have requested items before. I've been asked to create a vegan alternative to beeswax wraps. I started using soy-wax wraps but some people had allergies... I'm still investigating. It's a learning journey for me too.
If you could choose, what would be your favourite product?
To use, it would be the heavy duty sponges. They're great for every kitchen need you could imagine. To make, it's the makeup pads. They're really pretty. I enjoy making them from fabric squares and muslin.
What advice would you give to someone looking to live more sustainably?
There's a new zero-waste shop opening in Cardiff, Ripple. It's worth looking into that. Buying in bulk is handy. Go to local markets for veg. Shop with independents where you can - supporting other local business has got to be the way forward.
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