Interview with the Founder of From Belo
In today’s interview we talk to Charlotte Bingham – Wallis the founder of From Belo, an artisan brand with the mission of feeding goodness into the world. From Belo don’t only look after their artisans and their communities they aim to reframe the perception of luxury by designing beautiful and multi-functional handbags and accessories from landfill waste.
Thank you for wanting to be part our exclusive network. What were your reasons for joining us and investing in the Ethical Brand Directory / Academy and community?
From Belo believes EBD can offer amazing marketing, networking and retail opportunities. Roberta’s connections and knowledge within the field could really help us strengthen our voice through collaborations with other like minded brands and expand our reach showcasing our products online and in markets. We also want to contribute to this community by sharing our experiences along our journey, including international business and using crowdfunding platforms.
Can you give me a brief overview of your brand and the type of products you sell?
From Belo is a fashion brand focused on practical and versatile accessories with the mission to feed goodness into the world. We shape our business structure around Kindness – being kind to our workers – by practising Fairtrade – , to people in need – by donating plates of food for every product sold – and to our Earth – by using recycled and upcycled materials where possible, including scraps fabrics, plastic bottles and other materials that would end up in landfill.
- We know our artisans personally – they are respected, appreciated and paid above living wages.
- We delivered the equivalent of 282 meals in the past 6 months to an amazing NGO in Brazil. Team Belo Buys the food and delivers it to the NGO – we can guarantee that what is advertised as a donation reaches the people that need it.
- We reincarnate materials found in landfills and proudly magic them into new beautiful products!
What was your WHY? What inspired you to set up your business?
What unites and moves Maria and I is our urge to do good. Our WHY is feeding goodness into the world through kindness towards people and Earth. Our inspiration comes from our experiences seeing poverty and pain through my travels and Maria living in a 3rd world country. It shocked me into the realization of how lucky we are in the UK to have opportunities for health care, food and education. We wanted to use our love of fashion to make a difference towards a better and fairer world.
What challenges do independent brands like yourself face?
The biggest one is being so small you don’t just have one role – you are the accountant, the designer, the marketer ect.
The trend of sustainability is not so strong in South America and sourcing local materials has sometimes felt like mission impossible. Using good quality materials and a sustainable process is not cheap either. Conveying this to the customer can be challenging at times especially as we are a new brand. But a challenge worth taking up.
Why is it important to be ethical in business?
The root of change lies in Businesses understanding and striving for sustainability and Fairtrade practices. As they influence the media and the consumer behaviour. Fairtrade shouldn’t even be something that is questioned. Everyone deserves to be appreciated, paid well and safe, doesn’t matter where they come from. Practising Sustainability is important for a very simple reason: we cannot maintain our quality of life as human beings, the diversity of life, or ecosystems unless we embrace it.
What is the link to your page on ethics on your website?
What steps are you taking to ensure your brand operates as ethically as possible?
We employ a Brazilian workforce that is ruled under laws and regulations that protect the workers from slave labour & unsafe working conditions within the manufacturing industry. The manufacturers are monitored & if they do not adhere to the rules they can lose their company licence. Our current suppliers of PET Fabrics have the European Certification of approval for the EU ECO-Label. We purchase the food we donate ourselves. Maria volunteers at Casa De Maria so she sees the results 1st hand.
How important is sustainability for businesses? What are you doing in your business to reduce your environmental impact?
Businesses can influence and educate the workers and their consumers through their portrayal of their brand identity and their actions.
We pride ourselves on turning materials that are considered trash into beautiful new products you would be proud to wear. We try to keep our packaging to a minimal and use recycled materials wherever possible. For our business cards, we make a stamp with our information and stamp it into used cardboard boxes, making a great way to upcycle them.
What are you not doing in your business but want to improve on?
We use air freight to Ship from Brazil to the UK. Where possible, we use recycled materials, however this is not currently possible for every aspect of our products – especially when we are aiming to achieve high quality. We are currently using offcuts/deadstock leathers – left over from the fashion industry – and new/non recycled metal hardware on our products. We are continually researching and reviewing what is available in the Brazilian Market.
What is the link to your page on sustainability on your website?
What is your supplier and sourcing policy?
We don’t have one page on sustainability. We decided to split what we do into different sections, but maybe this is something we need to review and make clearer.
Work Force: https://www.frombelo.com/pages/our-manufacturers
Our Cause: https://www.frombelo.com/pages/our-cause
In 10 years from now where would you like to see the fashion/beauty/travel world? From a business and a consumer perspective
We would love to see businesses making conscious choices and enabling the “ethical choice” not just to be a niche option but a competitively available option is all available products. We would love to see marketing strategies that empower people into positivity, including the consumer and everyone behind the business.
Do you have any favourite ethical and sustainable quotes, or any key influencers that inspire you?
“Together we can change the world, just one random act of kindness at a time” Ron Hall
“Every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want” Anna Lappe
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” Robert Swan
“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.” Annie Leonard
Why should the general public care about supporting ethical and environmentally responsible brands?
By buying an ethically and environmentally responsible brand, the consumer is empowering local communities, making a stand for human rights, a positive impact on the environment and also purchasing a potentially better made/better quality good. They are being kind to our earth and the people who made them. Paraphrasing Gandhi, we need to be the change we want to see in the world, the power is in our daily choices.