Sustainability can begin with a scouring pad, a dustpan, or a beautiful tray you’ll keep for life. Founded only last year, Shaun Houcke created Hive to reinvent everyday objects in a better light. That means good design and good ethics – items that can make you happy and make a difference in the world.
It's a pleasure to feature Hive Homeware in our September box, inspiring our theme 'Origins' with the care taken over their products, from creation to packaging to shipping. Here's our interview with Shaun:
What does your business offer?
Spending our time between city and rural life, Hive Homeware is a small independent studio specialising in ethical and sustainable homeware, interior design and styling. We work in both the domestic and commercial markets, with people who are looking to craft spaces which embody and embrace sustainability and an ethical way of life; with people who want to redefine their everyday. Our services include home styling, staging and property presentation, bespoke homeware commissions and interior design.
We have established relationships with craftspeople from across the world to deliver bespoke pieces, including furniture and joinery, ceramics, textiles and glass, all with the highest ethical and sustainability standards. We are also able to assist in the selection of art, antiques, and everyday objects.
What are your values?
We offer people the chance to take small steps towards a more sustainable life.That could be one small change a week – it doesn’t need to be head on.
You can buy as little or as much as you want, but anything you choose from us will make a difference. We take care in every aspect to be ethical, not just environmentally, but also socially, economically and financially. Our buying ethos is this - to be conscious, consistent, appreciative, familiar and necessary.
Why would you consider yourself to be sustainable?
We offer a true blueprint approach to sustainability, right from who’s picking the cotton to who’s wrapping it, packing it and getting it to us.
My suppliers wince when they see me at trade fairs because I ask hard questions. Take a toothbrush – I’ll pull it apart and ask what material is holding to bristles in. I’ll make sure sustainable packaging is used and ask for goods to be transported by ship instead of by plane.
We take a militant approach to sustainability so you don’t have to.
Tell me about a project you’re proud of
Opening – that was a big achievement. I left a very stable, financially rewarding job that was mentally horrific. I took the decision to leave without having anything to support me. My other half helped a lot. I had to get my head in the game and launch quickly, but getting our products right took time. Finally opening was a big thing.
How has your business changed and learnt over time?
We’re introducing a lot more accessible price points to people so they can take that first step to sustainability. Starting with something as simple as a washing up brush – customers can test it at home and, when they do, they might want to take a second step and try out another of our products.
People have come up to our market stalls and given us new ideas for services. Home staging – presenting a home for photography – is something I never thought I’d do. Now it’s my bread and butter.
You recently set up Hive Dine, could you tell us more about it?
Hive Dine is dedicated to cooking seasonal, slow food, served at special events from our base in Cardiff throughout the year. We work with only the freshest ingredients which means our menu changes event to event depending on what is in abundance in the fields. All of our meat is grass-reared and fish sustainably caught.
Being part of a Hive Dine Social will be something to remember. We think great food tastes even better when you enjoy it with other people, so most of our guests will share tables with fellow diners. Uniquely, there is just one sitting, and the whole pop-up restaurant is served together at the same time, with generous platters of food to pass around and share. Tickets always includes your food & wine, so you are left to just enjoy the night.
Food is one of my passions - I'm spending a lot of time on this right now!
What’s your advice for creating a beautiful, sustainable home?
Keep all fixed surfaces as neutral as possible. The colours you like and your taste will change. You can change the whole feel of a room with an orange cushion, but painting your wall orange is a commitment.
Read the labels. Check whether paint contains volatile organic compounds (VOC) which could harm your health. VOC free paint is super easy to get now. I buy from Celtic Sustainables. It’s a sustainable builders’ merchant selling eco-friendly paint and materials.
Shaun and I have chosen two plastic-free kitchen items to feature in our September box - get yours here.