As you know, Lov’edu is an ethical business based on the belief that trade is a force for good if done in a joyous and generous spirit, and that an item can only be beautiful when created with respect for the planet, it's environment and it's people.
Today we want you too meet the mind behind this beautiful concept: An Interview with Lov'edu Founder and Director, Anna Boettcher.
Anna, what inspired the name Lov’edu, and what does it mean to you?
“Choosing a name for your business is always a tricky affair, it took me a while to find the right name, but when I found it, I knew it was perfect. ‘Lovedu’ is actually a South African tribe. The particularity of this tribe, is that it’s always been ruled by a Queen, rather than a King. She is known as The Lovedu Rain Queen, so called because she brings rain to her people, allowing for a good harvest. The last Rain Queen sadly died in 2007 and there is still no heir and so, at the moment, the Lovedu tribe are ‘Queenless’. Since Lov’edu Living is an ethical business that wishes to promote fair trade and sustainable products, the metaphor of the Rain Queen making the crops grow and sustaining the tribe fits very well; Lov’edu, with the apostrophe, stands for ‘Love Education’. It is about growing awareness and consciousness around the subject of trade, products and consumption – who makes the things we buy, where do they come from, how are they made, what happens to them afterwards, and so on. Love Education is an all encompassing term to describe what I wish Lov’edu will bring to our customers, apart from beautifully designed and crafted products.”
Why do you think it’s so important to represent ethnic designers and products?
“‘Ethnic’ has become a very fashionable word in recent years but it’s origin comes from the word ethnicity, which is something to describe people’s heritage. It represents the uniqueness of people’s culture and traditions, but also their commonality of all being a part of the bigger picture which is our shared humanity and the planet we all live on. Ethnic designs and products on the one hand remind us about the differences between us, and on the other, that we are all the same. They accentuate the distinct beauty and skills of each culture which make them so special and one of a kind.”
Out of all the places in London to set up shop, Why Camden?
“That’s what I’ve been asking myself too, haha! To be honest, Lov’edu was set up out of a strong conviction, but with little time and little financial backing. I had been working in Camden for five years, so it was a very natural step for me to set up my first base here. We have started looking into alternative locations though, so if you hear of anything interesting, let us know! ;)”
What do you look for in the designers and pieces you sell?
“I look for designers that have a similar vision to mine and for pieces that are skilfully made, with designs that are aesthetically pleasing and unique. Overall, since all our products are handmade using natural materials, they all share a certain sense of history. I guess what I’m most interested in, are pieces that have character, and whose presence can be felt in a pleasant and warm way.”
What have you learnt from your travels and experiences since starting this venture?
“A lot! But in a nutshell, I’d say that I have learnt that you never know what will happen, so you just have to trust your gut instinct; keep adapting, remain flexible and open to alternatives. Things often don’t happen the way you hoped they would, but just as in life, the most beautiful things happen when you least expect them. So keep your faith in the road you’re travelling on, and be prepared to be surprised!”
What was the thinking behind Lov’edu before it got started; what was the driving force behind it?
“After graduating from King's College London with a Masters degree in International Development and Politics I came to the conclusion that Aid in the traditional sense is not the way forward. To me, the most effective way to get people out of poverty is to support them in the work they do. By buying from designers in Developing countries, you are encouraging and supporting traditional craft, local communities and individuals by helping them to build sustainable livelihoods based on their skills.
Lov’edu is the idea that owning a piece that has been hand made by someone who has mastered his/her craft is a beautiful thing - someone who has had creative independence and time, thus enjoyed themselves whilst supporting their families through their skills. Lov'edu enables you to own a piece that is unique due to the way it’s made, and there being none other like it; to own a piece that was made from natural materials, so it will decompose naturally in the end, and not add more to the ever growing waste on this planet; or even a piece that has been made of recycled materials, thereby getting rid of some of the already existing waste.
This is the idea behind Lov’edu: allowing you to be conscious, aware, and express your individuality through unique products that will last. In the age of mass production and mass consumption, this, in my mind, is the highest form of luxury.”
Are there any up and coming designers you’ve discovered recently?
“There are always new designers that I discover, and whose work I showcase at Lov’edu. Two of my recent favourites are Miss Josephine, who is a basket weaver in Nairobi. She designs the most beautiful bags and baskets out of dyed wool.
The other is a Thai lady, who studied Jewellery making at London’s Art College, Central Saint Martins. She now lives and works in Thailand, where she designs the most beautiful brass and stone jewellery. This new brass collection has been quite a departure from Lov’edu’s initial emphasis on African design, but I am very excited to have this unusual collection amongst my selection, and look forward to travelling again soon in search of other such treasures."
What’s next for Lov’edu, and where can we find out more?
“We have recently confirmed our space at this years St Albans Christmas Market, which is very exciting! So if you are in the Christmas mood and want to escape the business of the big city, come up to St Albans to get your ethical, handmade Christmas presents! We will be there from the 27th November - 10th December and from the 15th December - 22nd December 2014. For more news, updates and special offers you can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, as well as sign up to our newsletter. I also want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all who have supported the Lov'edu project so far and have enabled great things to happen. Nothing would be possible without the support of every single one of you - so Thank You!"