Heidi Ellender and Sarah Forderer are the sisters behind Suffolk-based, eco-friendly clothing brand, Earth Lovers. Here, Sarah explains how living in Africa was a game changer
I think our lives so far have been perhaps more eventful than most. Having dealt with a very difficult childhood tragedy this probably set our life on the course of you need to live every day and just take what life throws at you and make the best of it.
Our true passion is Africa. I spent many years living in South Africa and working with African wildlife. Heidi visited us on the reserves where we worked many times and caught the wildlife warrior bug. This experience has been a huge influence on our passion to be a voice for the voiceless. Dealing with day-to-day battles such as poaching and human animal conflict fuelled our need to make people aware of the difficulties that are faced by many species. It is important to us to help raise awareness. There are so many amazing people out there doing everything they can to protect the environment, it is important to us that we support them where we can.
The pandemic certainly was a difficult time. I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for what was about to happen. We started Earth Lover in August 2020. Lockdown was a great opportunity due to having a lot of time on our hands to connect with so many amazing people all trying to do what they can to make a difference. Heidi had to start working from home which in a way was a refreshing change as she was normally based in London. That long daily journey was not missed and really made you think about what is important and that is time for family, friends and for yourself.
Heidi and I had always wanted to work together on a project that we were both passionate about. When I returned from South Africa we decided after a couple of years of settling back that we were ready to put our plan into action. Our idea was to not only provide sustainable alternatives but to create a platform for promoting positivity and good energy. We are at the start of our journey.
Starting an eco-brand in the current climate has its positives and negatives. The heightened awareness of green issues has certainly had great momentum over the last few years, on the flip side many people are still struggling from the difficulties of the pandemic this does make it a difficult time for small business owners. Sustainable living needs to become the new normal.
We wanted to choose a charity that was close to our hearts. Tofauti is a Kenyan based charity run by Crista Cullen OBE, the charity is committed to building resilience, rather than reliance among Africa’s communities and wildlife. Their vision is to create long term solutions for wildlife protection and place education at the centre of what they do. Crista is a close friend of a family member, and we chose this charity as we knew that whatever monies we would be able to donate to would go to the animals and communities within this environment.
Our brand of clothing is made of organic cotton and recycled products. Organic cotton is a product that is produced in ways that is not harmful to the environment, animals, or people. Our supplier is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified meaning that it meets the global organic textile standard. It is also People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) approved, vegan friendly and is a Fair Wear product ensuring a strong social responsibility ethos for workers. All our packaging is eco-friendly, and our products are printed locally. We also have a large Jute shopper within our range, offering a plastic free simple swap. Jute is a product which biodegrades and is also compostable.
We hope to slowly expand our brand in the future. Our vision is to provide a variety of eco-friendly products that help kick start people on their sustainable journey. The aim will be eventually to provide UK made products where possible and to look at recycling old into new. We will also continue to raise awareness and promote sustainable living via our social media platforms and blog.
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Featured image Heidi Ellender (left) and Sarah Forderer (right)