This week we celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and each day we will highlight a different homegrown company, because SMEs are on the front line and the first to be hit by any economic changes.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Dubai’s economy, representing 95% of all establishments in the Emirate. These SME businesses account for 42% of the workforce and contribute around 40% to the total value add generated in Dubai’s economy.
We hope our features will inspire you to #golocal and support small businesses. Do get in touch if you are a homegrown company with a sustainable edge and we will add you to our directory.
#staysafe #stay connected and #golocal
Q&A with Jo England – Founder, TRIBE Furniture & Design
Jo’s love of exotic travel and all things sustainable led her to set up Tribe, an independent, bespoke home decor studio. With ethical trade at its core and the mantra it must be good for the environment, good for the artisan and good for the community, Founder Jo England, is really leading the way when it comes to her commitment to sustainability on all levels and is a proud supporter also of homegrown brands.
Can you tell me your story of how Tribe was created and why?
Tribe represents my long-standing passion and appreciation for handmade, organic and sustainable goods. Over the 30 years I have travelled the world I’ve sourced products, met with the artisans and supported the continuation of these artists’ timeless skills. Ethical trade is the core of my business principle. It must be good for the environment, good for the artisan and good for the community. I saw the opportunity to have a new point of view and like myself, found that people were looking for something unique, a more relaxed, elegant, chic/casual feel that reflects and works in harmony with our amazing coastal environment of Dubai.
Small businesses have taken a huge hit due to the pandemic, what challenges have you encountered?
There have been huge challenges with retail, sourcing of materials, delayed shipments and production of custom-made products as well as shifting operations remotely during lockdown.
We are of course really happy to see you have implemented sustainable practices in to your business, can you tell me about these and why you chose to do so?
The core ethos of our business is based on sustainable materials and we always strive to do more. Not only do we work with natural sustainable materials like rattan, bamboo, hemp, abaca, jute, raffia, but we also look for like-minded people to collaborate with and enhance our journey. We push the boundaries of our design projects– for example we designed an incredible range of chairs that stack and save space and money, all made from sustainable, biodegradable and recyclable materials. We also created the PEG+ furniture collection, entirely made from salvaged wood from the UAE. Our forests are in fast decline so we don’t want to contribute to this at all by depleting forest resources – there’s always something you can do to help. The whole collection is made in-house and the ecological footprint was kept in mind throughout each part of its design. We further support this by planting 100’s of trees with onetreeplanted.com – a non-profit organisation tackling global deforestation.
Our planets natural resources are being exhausted, the effects of fast furniture, deforestation, plastic and mass-production are devastating our oceans and the world’s forests are depleting at astonishing rates. All our products are bio-degradable so in many years from now at the end of the products’ life it will biodegrade and not contribute towards landfill. This slower pace of production supports the real artists and craftsman to build their own sustainable businesses. This in turn supports their local communities and creates opportunity in some of the poorest areas of the world.
Could you share with us just one inspiring story about how buying ethically sourced products supports communities/small businesses in other countries?
We are so proud to represent wonderful brands and initiatives such as Armadillo & Co Rugs, 100% hand-made, sustainable and Certified Fair-Trade. This company provides employment for their ‘family’ of 1,500 weavers and sustains an incdustry of ancient craftsmen. It also supports education and local schools in their weavers’ villages, builds schools and a brighter future for children in these underprivileged communities. It is Kaleen certified which is the commitment that NO CHILD LABOUR is used in the making of these rugs. Cheap rugs mean someone hasn’t been paid fairly or child labour was involved. We want to highlight the reality of fairtrade and why its so important.
Realistically, how can local businesses thrive in a market filled with huge multinational companies?
As a local business we can adjust quickly to the requirements of our customers and engage with them on a more personal level. Having a smaller business enables us to react quickly. Our bespoke services allow us to custom make furniture that clients have been searching for. By organising workshops, we give an opportunity for like-minded people in the community to meet, share their experiences and learn a new craft.
Do you think consumers will now be readdressing their spending habits by thinking more consciously about what they buy and from whom, will we see a shift away from the global and towards the local brands?
I really hope so as the ‘support small businesses’ and ‘buy local’ mentality is what is required to keep this wonderful community of independent companies going strong.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
Local businesses contribute positively to the community through employment, a smaller carbon footprint and support of the economy. At Tribe we sell many items that are produced locally like our certified sustainable Palm Wax candles, soaps, many of our furniture pieces and sofas, some decor and soft furnishings. This supports many local artists and companies. We have also collaborated with a local photographer to produce a collection of Dubai focused prints that are exclusive to Tribe.
Can you share with us any sustainable practices you implement in to your daily life?
It’s small changes that makes a big difference. I have been using the same shopping bags for the last 12 years. My kids are the best at refusing plastic, their hands go out and they say ’no plastic’. I also have a fold up bag in my handbag and carry my refillable water bottle everyday. I take my curry tiffin to get takeaway food too. As a family we order our drinks with no straws. I carry a spoon in my sunglass case. I’m also conscious about how much I buy and only buy what I need. I buy classic pieces that will last a long time. It’s so easy to do, it’s about creating a habit and making and promise to yourself and the future of your children and be sure you are just that little bit more prepared.
Where do you source all your products? How do you choose which producers to buy from?
We source from over 25 countries. We have 1000’s of artisans under the Tribe roof so our collections are diverse and unique and constantly evolving.
We consciously choose to work with artists and support their talents based on our ethos and the impact to the environment. Like the food you choose and the desire to know where it came from and who made it, we believe this should be the same for all industries and make well informed choices for our homes. We know exactly where our products are made and the journey they make to reach our beautiful store. Being socially responsible is a lifestyle choice and not just a trend to follow so we strive to be the benchmark for a conscious lifestyle.
Why should consumers think more consciously about what they buy?
The production of the items they purchase could have a negative impact on their health, the environment or the people working to produce those products. It is important to watch documentaries and understand the impact of our choices and lifestyle and how we can make changes for the future. Support fair-trade, ethical and organic production methods. Always question where the wood comes from, what materials you are buying and the end use will it end up in landfill.
What are your Eid plans?
More cooking, zooming, hanging out with my family, relaxing and getting back to reading fabulous books.
Disclaimer: These articles are not ads neither paid features.