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The Diary

Our Journey to Becoming Regenerative

Since the day our House was built, a sense of compassion for people and planet has served as the foundation of everything we do.
Follow our journey, in our founder Frieda’s words, as we move from being a B Corp sustainable business, to a regenerative one.
Following the seasons, Frieda will share her journal of House of Hackney’s mission to leave our home better than we found it. 

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens
can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” 

- Margaret Mead US Anthropologist

The Diary

Our Journey to
Becoming Regenerative


Since the day our House was built, a sense of compassion for people and planet has served as the foundation of everything we do. Follow our journey, in our founder Frieda’s words, as we move from being a B Corp sustainable business, to a regenerative one. Following the seasons, Frieda will share her journal of House of Hackney’s mission to leave our home better than we found it. 

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” 

- Margaret Mead US Anthropologist

An Introduction

There is change in the air this Spring.

As I sit in the garden in Cornwall, Nature is bursting into life and the show of Spring is revealing itself day by day. It’s a time of rebirth and new ideas.

Reflecting on our story so far I’m grateful for the postage stamp backyard of our house in Hackney that was the catalyst in 2011 to create a brand that would bring the natural world into the home. Giving birth to and sustaining a business is an exhilarating rollercoaster of a ride; similar to the raising of a child and the deep life learnings it teaches the parent along the way. The journey has taught us so much. Mother Nature was our design muse from the start and we could only but try to imitate her perfect forms and palette. We couldn’t take such endless inspiration from her without acting in reciprocity - not just by observing her but by deeply listening to her. She has become our biggest teacher on how to be and the need to ‘inter-be’ - acting in togetherness with our Earth community.

We can’t take without giving back, and over time House of Hackney has evolved in its purpose to be a voice for the natural world. As founders of the brand, we humbly work to deliver on this purpose. This is a work in progress; as we become more aware, we need to seek more creative and innovative solutions. As Maya Angelou so beautifully said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” We are dedicated to this mission.

As April 2023 marks 12 years of House of Hackney, we embark on a new chapter in the journey of the brand; one where we move the dial from being a ‘sustainable’ business to

becoming a truly ‘regenerative’ one. Instead of simply ‘sustaining’ our eco systems, we want to actively regenerate them, leaving our planet - our home - better than we found it.

Since our family moved to Cornwall 4 years ago, we’ve learnt a lot from our regenerative farmer neighbours about working with Nature’s systems and the benefits this can quickly bring to the health of the soil and people alike - so let’s look to Nature’s systems to regenerate our businesses. There is so much that we can learn from Nature. Nature takes just what it needs and doesn’t exploit; Nature champions the diversity of species through symbiosis; Nature fits form to function; Nature rewards cooperation and doesn’t value ownership; in Nature waste is never wasted. Nature doing well means everyone doing well and we want to embed these holistic principles in our company to benefit our people and planet. We have forgotten that we are Nature

Consumerism has become the predominant story. It claims that a progressively greater level of consumption is beneficial to everyone; it promises endless growth as something worth striving for and asks how much value can be extracted from the Earth and the people who call it home?

However the future is not won by repeating the old ways. Infinite growth in a finite world is no longer sustainable. Radical times call for radical action. Business as usual is no longer viable. 

The Covid pandemic reminded us of the fragility of our eco and life systems, of the importance of equilibrium in how we operate and of the importance of time spent in Nature .

In the absence of integrity and inspiring leadership in our governments, we need in Gandhi’s words, “To be the change we want to see in the world”. We believe in the power for business to be a force for good and that it has the ability to balance the needs of people, planet and profit. It’s time to unlearn the old and replace the capitalist story with a new one - one that speaks to how companies can positively impact the communities they touch, and where new metrics of collaboration, holism and happiness replace exploitation, separation and extraction.

Think of the beautiful origins of the word ‘company’. The wisdom keeper and life-long activist Satish Kumar reminds us in his 2023 book Radical Love, that the wordcomes from the Latin ‘companio’, meaning ‘one who eats bread with you’ and the French ‘compagnie’, which means, ‘friendship and society’. It originally described how merchants would gather, share stories, eat together, and trade. 


House of Hackney was founded around our kitchen table; the sharing hub of our home. In our companies we need to move from a transactional business model to one which has relationships and community at the heart of it. As E.F. Schumacher’s landmark book Small is Beautiful celebrates its 50th year, its message is perhaps more important today than when it was written. Arguing for an economic landscape in which people and planet truly matter, he wrote about the importance of environmental sustainability, living within the limits of our planet and the bringing together of communities. He believed the principle purpose of economics should be the establishment of fulfilling livelihoods for all. Given today’s global financial, energy and food crises, climate change, growing inequality and social tensions, perhaps now is a good time to revisit his work.

In early 2023, my senior management team and I embarked on studying Regenerative Economics; an economic model that moves away from extractive business models and unlocks the potential for positive contributions to Nature and society. Using Nature as a blueprint for business is a fast growing movement and it feels as though we are on the cusp of seismic change and the birth of a new narrative. But right now, although the study of regenerative economics is gaining big traction there are as yet few practical examples of companies actively applying these principles in business. On paper House of Hackney is a pioneering, sustainable B-Corp brand. Year- on -year we set ourselves higher targets as our level of awareness rises. We are learning on the job. Where we used to plant trees we learnt that protecting ancient woodland is even more important to our ecosystems. In 2022 we helped protect 170 acres of sacred trees thanks to our partnership with the World Land Trust, and we proudly became a certified carbon neutral company. We value our people and a work life balance and we were an early pioneer of the 4 day week and shorter winter hours, honouring our natural circadian rhythms. But we know we can do more.

In the spirit of sharing and collaboration that is so needed right now, we are going to put our neck on the line and share our journey of stewarding House of Hackney towards becoming a regenerative business in the hope of inspiring others to join the movement. 

Nature teaches us that there is a time for everything. Yes it’s going to be hard, but knowing that this is in our nature and it’s the way that our universe works gives us a deep sense of purpose.

So we invite you to join us on this journey; not just as an observer but as a participant of meaningful transformation; where the possibilities and potential to do good with our businesses are endless.

With courage and love,

Frieda

Plan Of Action
RADICAL TIMES CALL FOR RADICAL ACTION

How are we going to do it? 

Instead of productivity alone we need to look at all aspects of our company through a lens of planetary and personal health, exploring how we can use Nature’s systems to improve the holistic design of our communities. 

We defined the pillars of change that we need to look to make a positive impact with:

  1. Our internal community (our team, culture and practises)
  2. Our factory communities (our supply base, culture and practises)
  3. Our local communities in our brand neighbourhoods of London, New York and Cornwall
  4. Our business communities
  5. Our governance and financing

We started with setting the overarching aims around our mission to help drive out ideas and actions.

Base 1 Our Internal Community

We want to foster a culture where everyone has purpose and comes to work every day feeling that they are participating in something for the greater good .There is nothing in Nature that serves just one purpose and we want to call on the creativity and intelligence of each of our team members to join the journey.

We want to help our team forge stronger relationships to Nature so that each person is conscious of her in all decision-making; to nurture them to become positive advocates for Nature within their circles of influence, creating an ever -growing continuum of advocates and activists. A deeper connection to Nature makes for happier, healthier people.

Base 2 Our Factory Communities

How do we extend the aims of our team to our extended family - our factories - where we in turn work with them to grow their connection to Nature and raise their awareness of considering people and planet in all of their decision-making. How do we work together to find materials and processes that have a footprint of positive impact? How do we help support regeneration in our factories’ local communities? How do we fully trace back the source of our key materials, especially cotton and review its journey? Which materials do we need to find kinder alternatives to? How do we look at each product we are launching through a lens of it having a purpose and benefit?

Base 3 Our Local Communities

How do we actively engage to make a truly positive long standing impact on our local communities? In a homogenised globalised world we are excited at the prospect of a local future. In the words of Satish Kumar, 

“We need to think globally – one humanity, one earth family, one world future. But we need to act locally- we need to value the diversity of local community, local employment , local manufacturing, local arts…” 

We have forgotten our sense of place. How do we nurture the life of our communities, leaving them better than how we found them?

Base 4 Our Business Communities

As business leaders we have the opportunity to be part of the solution rather than the problem. We have a duty to optimise our systems as a whole rather than maximising short term economic gains for a few and the economic, social and ecological detriment of many.

We want to come together in collaboration instead of competition to share our wisdom and experience, ideas and solutions to co-create new models of regenerative business and nurture the movement. We want to hold to account exploitative financial models and welcome new ones that are in service to others. We want to learn how we can use our profit for better purposes and have a fair split between people, planet and shareholders’ interests. How do we make companies about relationships again? How do we bring a head-heart-hand approach to business?

Our Organisation

How do we consider Nature in all decision making? 



Financing

Beyond profit and high growth, how do we create and establish new metrics of what a successful business looks like with a focus on the holistic health of our companies through collective action and input? Finance gives life to business, but from our experience many of the current forms are too short term and extractive, benefitting only the few. 

Within this deep inquiry there will be small impactful pivots and long game actions; we will see the outcomes of some, while others will benefit future generations.

Nature & Future Generations On The Board 

As we write it’s November, which means acorn and mushroom season in the Northern hemisphere.

The majestic Oak, a much loved design muse to us at House of Hackney, is a  symbol of strength and wisdom that reminds us of our divine and enduring connection to Nature. There is a lot that we can learn from the wisdom of the Oak and the living systems it forms a part of, to inspire us in how we look after our communities and organisations.

Supported by its mycelium network, each part is dependent on the other in order to thrive, and each plays an equal and important part in the ecosystem, without the need for a leader, boss, or hierarchy of power.

Sadly us humans have forgotten that we are just a part of Nature’s living system. Indeed at only 200,000 years old compared to the tree’s 56 million, we are Nature’s saplings, and we don’t have the wisdom of Grandfather Oak yet. We have lost our way, thinking we have ownership over Nature when in fact we are Nature. 

We have forgotten how to live in kinship with the natural world, and this separation has gotten our planet into a lot of trouble. We have forgotten that we are part of a sacred web of life with all living organisms including plants, animals, rivers, mountains, oceans and their co-created living systems which have equal and inherent rights to exist and thrive.

In order to try to stabilise our precious eco-systems, of which we are dependent on for our own existence, we need to urgently bring Nature back into our community and back into communion with us. Nature doing well means us all doing well. In order to safeguard her we need to recognise Nature as a peer.

Nature has been our design muse from the start. But we can’t take such endless inspiration from Her without giving back and over time House of Hackney has evolved in its purpose to use its voice to represent the natural world we love so much and need to protect and serve. We need to look after it not just for our lifetimes but for future generations. As founders of the brand we humbly work to deliver on this purpose.

Year- on - year we set ourselves higher targets of restoring more than we take. We learnt (and continue to learn) on the job. Where we used to plant trees we learnt that protecting ancient woodland is even more important for our ecosystems.

In 2022 we helped protect 170 acres of sacred woodland thanks to our partnership with the World Land Trust, and we proudly became a certified carbon neutral company. We give 1% of our sales to people and planet initiatives and we’ve ensured that we’ve grown at a slow and steady level. We don’t believe that fast growth and planetary wellbeing is compatible.

However radical times call for radical action and it’s time to move the dial further. It’s no longer enough to just be sustainable - to merely ‘sustain’ life - we need to restore and ultimately regenerate it, actively leaving our planetary community, our home, better than we found it.

In these urgent times where we are exceeding planetary boundaries, and in the absence of leaders with integrity who show that they are committed to tackling the climate crisis, the business sector has a big opportunity to step into its power and use it for good. We have an economic system based on unlimited growth in a finite world. The extractive, exploitative capitalist business model focuses on shareholder wealth, which only benefits the few at the detriment of the natural world and our future ancestors. This has played a major part in getting the world into the mess we now find ourselves in, and the private sector now has a duty to pivot into action.

We have been following the growing momentum of the Nature Rights movement, where ecosystems such as rivers, lakes and mountains are given legal personhood in the same manner as human beings. 

This movement has the opportunity to right many wrongs and truly shift the narrative away from a human-centric view to solve so many of the planetary crises we are facing today.

Such a change in our legal and political thinking would produce a shift from our current extractive economy towards a regenerative economy and make political institutions accountable for any damage to the environment. This will benefit not only the natural world but every aspect of our lives too.

It was around this time last year that we learned the excitingnews that B Corp cosmetics company Faith in Nature had made a powerful and pioneering move; they had put Nature on their board. Faith in Nature had become the first company in the world to bring Nature into the very heart of their decision-making process by making Mother Nature herself a director, thereby giving her an active voice (and vote), ensuring that the natural world’s best interests are represented at all times. This spoke to the very heart of our brand.

This A few weeks before this news, US brand Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard had also made global headlines when his company took an unprecedented move in transferring all profits to protecting Nature and declaring thatEarth is now our only shareholder”, using the wealth they create to protect the source of all wealth. As Yvon so simply put, 

“Without a healthy environment there are no shareholders, no employees, no customers and no business.”

- Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia

The act of putting Nature on the board was hugely inspiring to us. To do this ourselves would mean that we could go beyond our good intentions and structure something meaningful and legal which would also safeguard Nature through all of the company’s touchpoints. We would no longer personally need to be the main advocates of considering Nature in our actions – it would be deeply and legally enshrined in our company directives now and in the future. 

So we reached out to Lawyer’s for Nature, who had worked with Faith in Nature to create the articles that would give legal personhood to Nature and asked if they could help us to formally bring her into our board room. 

Lawyer’s for Nature are part of an exciting movement using the power of the law to give Nature the protections afforded to people, and a much needed voice. Co-founder Brontie Ansell guided us on our journey, and she will stand as a representative for the voices of Mother Nature & Future Generations.

We wanted to take the process one step further and appoint a Future Generations director to ensure that they are also considered in our decision making. As parents we are deeply concerned for the world we will leave our children. We are the first generation to grow up knowing about climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it.

Business, like our governments, has focused on short term planning, ignoring the impact on the future. We can learn a lot about good governance from Indigenous Peoples, who safeguard 80% of the planet's species. They have shown how they are trusted custodians of the world. We are particularly inspired by the principle of 7th Generation Thinking, where decisions are made considering the impact on those 7 generations in the future.

Learning about this long term planning galvanised usto rip up our 3-5 year business plan and instead go deep into the ancient sequoia woods near our home to sit in Nature and start to create a vision for what House of Hackney’s 150 year mission and ultimately legacy could be. What is our purpose for existing? The world didn't need another interiors brand when we launched 12 years ago and it certainly won't need one in 150 years time.

We We defined our long term purpose as:

Using the creativity and beauty of the natural world to encourage connection and the protection of Nature, safeguarding it for the generations to come.

This mission became our North Star which all shorter term planning needs to align with; if it doesn't, it doesn't make the cut. 

As we invite Nature and Future Generations into our board room, everything will come under scrutiny. It will make us ask difficult questions and confront our responsibility to these important stakeholders. Saying ‘no’ when we must, and seeking more beautiful, kinder, innovative solutions is an important part of our journey and we have a lot to learn along the way. But we are up for the challenge, and ultimately, we have no choice.

The new director will support us in making strategic and significant decisions that impact Nature and Future Generations with the freedom to consult a wide network of experts as and when required. The system is designed in a way to avoid bias personally, professionally and financially, and to provide a truly ethical view of the business and all decisions made. Their voice is independent of our business interests therefore they can freely advocate for Nature and Future Generations.

Right now we are in the depths of a planetary emergency. As it currently stands we are heading towards a world in 2100 that is 3 degrees warmer than today with potentially devastating consequences for billions of people. We are 6 years away from the 2030 goals set in the Paris agreement to tackle climate change and shift towards a net zero emissions world, and in the absence of trustworthy governance, we need responsible leaders to drive the change.

Business as usual is no longer an option.
We can no longer be bystanders in a broken system.

The Although it’s easy to feel that big business runs the world, it’s a hopeful statistic that 99.9% of UK businesses are SMEs. Imagine the impact that the sector could make if we came together and co- created a new vision for the future where long term planning and benefits for all replaced short term gains for the few. 

We need Nature to have a voice, a vote and a presence in our board rooms.

A Nature-positive business might seem like a paradox right now, but as we bring Nature’s voice into our companies and use metrics of mutual flourishing and  wellbeing across people, planet and profit, a better future can be unlocked. Business holds the key to this transformation from our current extractive economy towards a regenerative one, and to a society and planet that serves all. This will benefit not only the natural environment but every aspect of our lives.

Leaving a legacy is not about leaving money in the bank, it’s about leaving our world better than how we found it. This reparation work is our legacy.

Nature doesn’t belong to us, we are Nature. And we have a responsibility to tend to it with care, not just for ourselves, but for those yet to come.

 “We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children.” 
- Chief Si'ahl

Frieda & Javvy
Founders, House of Hackney

Along with the additional responsibility and accountability that will be placed on safe-guarding futures in our business actions, we see this act as an opportunity to inspire our team, our factories, our audience, and other businesses with a reminder to consider Nature and future generations in all decision-making. We are open sourcing the legals and our hope is that we can support other businesses to bring Nature’s voice into their companies.
We are keen for other brands to explore bringing these important voices into their board rooms and we’d be thrilled to take you through the process if it is of interest. We have been generously guided on our journey by Faith in Nature, and Lawyers for Nature, and we are keen to pass this knowledge on and grow the momentum of Nature Rights in business. We see corporate activism as being an important part of this call to action.

After all, there is no business on a dead planet 

An Introduction

There is change in the air this Spring.

As I sit in the garden in Cornwall, Nature is bursting into life and the show of Spring is revealing itself day by day. It’s a time of rebirth and new ideas.

Reflecting on our story so far I’m grateful for the postage stamp backyard of our house in Hackney that was the catalyst in 2011 to create a brand that would bring the natural world into the home. Giving birth to and sustaining a business is an exhilarating rollercoaster of a ride; similar to the raising of a child and the deep life learnings it teaches the parent along the way. The journey has taught us so much. Mother Nature was our design muse from the start and we could only but try to imitate her perfect forms and palette. We couldn’t take such endless inspiration from her without acting in reciprocity - not just by observing her but by deeply listening to her. She has become our biggest teacher on how to be and the need to ‘inter-be’ - acting in togetherness with our Earth community.

We can’t take without giving back, and over time House of Hackney has evolved in its purpose to be a voice for the natural world. As founders of the brand, we humbly work to deliver on this purpose. This is a work in progress; as we become more aware, we need to seek more creative and innovative solutions. As Maya Angelou so beautifully said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” We are dedicated to this mission.

As April 2023 marks 12 years of House of Hackney, we embark on a new chapter in the journey of the brand; one where we move the dial from being a ‘sustainable’ business to

becoming a truly ‘regenerative’ one. Instead of simply ‘sustaining’ our eco systems, we want to actively regenerate them, leaving our planet - our home - better than we found it.

Since our family moved to Cornwall 4 years ago, we’ve learnt a lot from our regenerative farmer neighbours about working with Nature’s systems and the benefits this can quickly bring to the health of the soil and people alike - so let’s look to Nature’s systems to regenerate our businesses. There is so much that we can learn from Nature. Nature takes just what it needs and doesn’t exploit; Nature champions the diversity of species through symbiosis; Nature fits form to function; Nature rewards cooperation and doesn’t value ownership; in Nature waste is never wasted. Nature doing well means everyone doing well and we want to embed these holistic principles in our company to benefit our people and planet. We have forgotten that we are Nature

Consumerism has become the predominant story. It claims that a progressively greater level of consumption is beneficial to everyone; it promises endless growth as something worth striving for and asks how much value can be extracted from the Earth and the people who call it home?

However the future is not won by repeating the old ways. Infinite growth in a finite world is no longer sustainable. Radical times call for radical action. Business as usual is no longer viable. 

The Covid pandemic reminded us of the fragility of our eco and life systems, of the importance of equilibrium in how we operate and of the importance of time spent in Nature .

In the absence of integrity and inspiring leadership in our governments, we need in Gandhi’s words, “To be the change we want to see in the world”. We believe in the power for business to be a force for good and that it has the ability to balance the needs of people, planet and profit. It’s time to unlearn the old and replace the capitalist story with a new one - one that speaks to how companies can positively impact the communities they touch, and where new metrics of collaboration, holism and happiness replace exploitation, separation and extraction.

Think of the beautiful origins of the word ‘company’. The wisdom keeper and life-long activist Satish Kumar reminds us in his 2023 book Radical Love, that the wordcomes from the Latin ‘companio’, meaning ‘one who eats bread with you’ and the French ‘compagnie’, which means, ‘friendship and society’. It originally described how merchants would gather, share stories, eat together, and trade. 


House of Hackney was founded around our kitchen table; the sharing hub of our home. In our companies we need to move from a transactional business model to one which has relationships and community at the heart of it. As E.F. Schumacher’s landmark book Small is Beautiful celebrates its 50th year, its message is perhaps more important today than when it was written. Arguing for an economic landscape in which people and planet truly matter, he wrote about the importance of environmental sustainability, living within the limits of our planet and the bringing together of communities. He believed the principle purpose of economics should be the establishment of fulfilling livelihoods for all. Given today’s global financial, energy and food crises, climate change, growing inequality and social tensions, perhaps now is a good time to revisit his work.

In early 2023, my senior management team and I embarked on studying Regenerative Economics; an economic model that moves away from extractive business models and unlocks the potential for positive contributions to Nature and society. Using Nature as a blueprint for business is a fast growing movement and it feels as though we are on the cusp of seismic change and the birth of a new narrative. But right now, although the study of regenerative economics is gaining big traction there are as yet few practical examples of companies actively applying these principles in business. On paper House of Hackney is a pioneering, sustainable B-Corp brand. Year- on -year we set ourselves higher targets as our level of awareness rises. We are learning on the job. Where we used to plant trees we learnt that protecting ancient woodland is even more important to our ecosystems. In 2022 we helped protect 170 acres of sacred trees thanks to our partnership with the World Land Trust, and we proudly became a certified carbon neutral company. We value our people and a work life balance and we were an early pioneer of the 4 day week and shorter winter hours, honouring our natural circadian rhythms. But we know we can do more.

In the spirit of sharing and collaboration that is so needed right now, we are going to put our neck on the line and share our journey of stewarding House of Hackney towards becoming a regenerative business in the hope of inspiring others to join the movement. 

Nature teaches us that there is a time for everything. Yes it’s going to be hard, but knowing that this is in our nature and it’s the way that our universe works gives us a deep sense of purpose.

So we invite you to join us on this journey; not just as an observer but as a participant of meaningful transformation; where the possibilities and potential to do good with our businesses are endless.

With courage and love,

Frieda

Plan Of Action
RADICAL TIMES CALL FOR RADICAL ACTION

How are we going to do it? 

Instead of productivity alone we need to look at all aspects of our company through a lens of planetary and personal health, exploring how we can use Nature’s systems to improve the holistic design of our communities. 

We defined the pillars of change that we need to look to make a positive impact with:

  1. Our internal community (our team, culture and practises)
  2. Our factory communities (our supply base, culture and practises)
  3. Our local communities in our brand neighbourhoods of London, New York and Cornwall
  4. Our business communities
  5. Our governance and financing

We started with setting the overarching aims around our mission to help drive out ideas and actions.

Base 1 Our Internal Community

We want to foster a culture where everyone has purpose and comes to work every day feeling that they are participating in something for the greater good .There is nothing in Nature that serves just one purpose and we want to call on the creativity and intelligence of each of our team members to join the journey.

We want to help our team forge stronger relationships to Nature so that each person is conscious of her in all decision-making; to nurture them to become positive advocates for Nature within their circles of influence, creating an ever -growing continuum of advocates and activists. A deeper connection to Nature makes for happier, healthier people.

Base 2 Our Factory Communities

How do we extend the aims of our team to our extended family - our factories - where we in turn work with them to grow their connection to Nature and raise their awareness of considering people and planet in all of their decision-making. How do we work together to find materials and processes that have a footprint of positive impact? How do we help support regeneration in our factories’ local communities? How do we fully trace back the source of our key materials, especially cotton and review its journey? Which materials do we need to find kinder alternatives to? How do we look at each product we are launching through a lens of it having a purpose and benefit?

Base 3 Our Local Communities

How do we actively engage to make a truly positive long standing impact on our local communities? In a homogenised globalised world we are excited at the prospect of a local future. In the words of Satish Kumar, 

“We need to think globally – one humanity, one earth family, one world future. But we need to act locally- we need to value the diversity of local community, local employment , local manufacturing, local arts…” 

We have forgotten our sense of place. How do we nurture the life of our communities, leaving them better than how we found them?

Base 4 Our Business Communities

As business leaders we have the opportunity to be part of the solution rather than the problem. We have a duty to optimise our systems as a whole rather than maximising short term economic gains for a few and the economic, social and ecological detriment of many.

We want to come together in collaboration instead of competition to share our wisdom and experience, ideas and solutions to co-create new models of regenerative business and nurture the movement. We want to hold to account exploitative financial models and welcome new ones that are in service to others. We want to learn how we can use our profit for better purposes and have a fair split between people, planet and shareholders’ interests. How do we make companies about relationships again? How do we bring a head-heart-hand approach to business?

Our Organisation

How do we consider Nature in all decision making? 



Financing

Beyond profit and high growth, how do we create and establish new metrics of what a successful business looks like with a focus on the holistic health of our companies through collective action and input? Finance gives life to business, but from our experience many of the current forms are too short term and extractive, benefitting only the few. 

Within this deep inquiry there will be small impactful pivots and long game actions; we will see the outcomes of some, while others will benefit future generations.

Nature & Future Generations On The Board 

As we write it’s November, which means acorn and mushroom season in the Northern hemisphere.

The majestic Oak, a much loved design muse to us at House of Hackney, is a  symbol of strength and wisdom that reminds us of our divine and enduring connection to Nature. There is a lot that we can learn from the wisdom of the Oak and the living systems it forms a part of, to inspire us in how we look after our communities and organisations.

Supported by its mycelium network, each part is dependent on the other in order to thrive, and each plays an equal and important part in the ecosystem, without the need for a leader, boss, or hierarchy of power.

Sadly us humans have forgotten that we are just a part of Nature’s living system. Indeed at only 200,000 years old compared to the tree’s 56 million, we are Nature’s saplings, and we don’t have the wisdom of Grandfather Oak yet. We have lost our way, thinking we have ownership over Nature when in fact we are Nature. 

We have forgotten how to live in kinship with the natural world, and this separation has gotten our planet into a lot of trouble. We have forgotten that we are part of a sacred web of life with all living organisms including plants, animals, rivers, mountains, oceans and their co-created living systems which have equal and inherent rights to exist and thrive.

In order to try to stabilise our precious eco-systems, of which we are dependent on for our own existence, we need to urgently bring Nature back into our community and back into communion with us. Nature doing well means us all doing well. In order to safeguard her we need to recognise Nature as a peer.

Nature has been our design muse from the start. But we can’t take such endless inspiration from Her without giving back and over time House of Hackney has evolved in its purpose to use its voice to represent the natural world we love so much and need to protect and serve. We need to look after it not just for our lifetimes but for future generations. As founders of the brand we humbly work to deliver on this purpose.

Year- on - year we set ourselves higher targets of restoring more than we take. We learnt (and continue to learn) on the job. Where we used to plant trees we learnt that protecting ancient woodland is even more important for our ecosystems.

In 2022 we helped protect 170 acres of sacred woodland thanks to our partnership with the World Land Trust, and we proudly became a certified carbon neutral company. We give 1% of our sales to people and planet initiatives and we’ve ensured that we’ve grown at a slow and steady level. We don’t believe that fast growth and planetary wellbeing is compatible.

However radical times call for radical action and it’s time to move the dial further. It’s no longer enough to just be sustainable - to merely ‘sustain’ life - we need to restore and ultimately regenerate it, actively leaving our planetary community, our home, better than we found it.

In these urgent times where we are exceeding planetary boundaries, and in the absence of leaders with integrity who show that they are committed to tackling the climate crisis, the business sector has a big opportunity to step into its power and use it for good. We have an economic system based on unlimited growth in a finite world. The extractive, exploitative capitalist business model focuses on shareholder wealth, which only benefits the few at the detriment of the natural world and our future ancestors. This has played a major part in getting the world into the mess we now find ourselves in, and the private sector now has a duty to pivot into action.

We have been following the growing momentum of the Nature Rights movement, where ecosystems such as rivers, lakes and mountains are given legal personhood in the same manner as human beings. 

This movement has the opportunity to right many wrongs and truly shift the narrative away from a human-centric view to solve so many of the planetary crises we are facing today.

Such a change in our legal and political thinking would produce a shift from our current extractive economy towards a regenerative economy and make political institutions accountable for any damage to the environment. This will benefit not only the natural world but every aspect of our lives too.

It was around this time last year that we learned the excitingnews that B Corp cosmetics company Faith in Nature had made a powerful and pioneering move; they had put Nature on their board. Faith in Nature had become the first company in the world to bring Nature into the very heart of their decision-making process by making Mother Nature herself a director, thereby giving her an active voice (and vote), ensuring that the natural world’s best interests are represented at all times. This spoke to the very heart of our brand.

This A few weeks before this news, US brand Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard had also made global headlines when his company took an unprecedented move in transferring all profits to protecting Nature and declaring thatEarth is now our only shareholder”, using the wealth they create to protect the source of all wealth. As Yvon so simply put, 

“Without a healthy environment there are no shareholders, no employees, no customers and no business.”

- Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia

The act of putting Nature on the board was hugely inspiring to us. To do this ourselves would mean that we could go beyond our good intentions and structure something meaningful and legal which would also safeguard Nature through all of the company’s touchpoints. We would no longer personally need to be the main advocates of considering Nature in our actions – it would be deeply and legally enshrined in our company directives now and in the future. 

So we reached out to Lawyer’s for Nature, who had worked with Faith in Nature to create the articles that would give legal personhood to Nature and asked if they could help us to formally bring her into our board room. 

Lawyer’s for Nature are part of an exciting movement using the power of the law to give Nature the protections afforded to people, and a much needed voice. Co-founder Brontie Ansell guided us on our journey, and she will stand as a representative for the voices of Mother Nature & Future Generations.

We wanted to take the process one step further and appoint a Future Generations director to ensure that they are also considered in our decision making. As parents we are deeply concerned for the world we will leave our children. We are the first generation to grow up knowing about climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it.

Business, like our governments, has focused on short term planning, ignoring the impact on the future. We can learn a lot about good governance from Indigenous Peoples, who safeguard 80% of the planet's species. They have shown how they are trusted custodians of the world. We are particularly inspired by the principle of 7th Generation Thinking, where decisions are made considering the impact on those 7 generations in the future.

Learning about this long term planning galvanised usto rip up our 3-5 year business plan and instead go deep into the ancient sequoia woods near our home to sit in Nature and start to create a vision for what House of Hackney’s 150 year mission and ultimately legacy could be. What is our purpose for existing? The world didn't need another interiors brand when we launched 12 years ago and it certainly won't need one in 150 years time.

We We defined our long term purpose as:

Using the creativity and beauty of the natural world to encourage connection and the protection of Nature, safeguarding it for the generations to come.

This mission became our North Star which all shorter term planning needs to align with; if it doesn't, it doesn't make the cut. 

As we invite Nature and Future Generations into our board room, everything will come under scrutiny. It will make us ask difficult questions and confront our responsibility to these important stakeholders. Saying ‘no’ when we must, and seeking more beautiful, kinder, innovative solutions is an important part of our journey and we have a lot to learn along the way. But we are up for the challenge, and ultimately, we have no choice.

The new director will support us in making strategic and significant decisions that impact Nature and Future Generations with the freedom to consult a wide network of experts as and when required. The system is designed in a way to avoid bias personally, professionally and financially, and to provide a truly ethical view of the business and all decisions made. Their voice is independent of our business interests therefore they can freely advocate for Nature and Future Generations.

Right now we are in the depths of a planetary emergency. As it currently stands we are heading towards a world in 2100 that is 3 degrees warmer than today with potentially devastating consequences for billions of people. We are 6 years away from the 2030 goals set in the Paris agreement to tackle climate change and shift towards a net zero emissions world, and in the absence of trustworthy governance, we need responsible leaders to drive the change.

Business as usual is no longer an option.
We can no longer be bystanders in a broken system.

The Although it’s easy to feel that big business runs the world, it’s a hopeful statistic that 99.9% of UK businesses are SMEs. Imagine the impact that the sector could make if we came together and co- created a new vision for the future where long term planning and benefits for all replaced short term gains for the few. 

We need Nature to have a voice, a vote and a presence in our board rooms.

A Nature-positive business might seem like a paradox right now, but as we bring Nature’s voice into our companies and use metrics of mutual flourishing and  wellbeing across people, planet and profit, a better future can be unlocked. Business holds the key to this transformation from our current extractive economy towards a regenerative one, and to a society and planet that serves all. This will benefit not only the natural environment but every aspect of our lives.

Leaving a legacy is not about leaving money in the bank, it’s about leaving our world better than how we found it. This reparation work is our legacy.

Nature doesn’t belong to us, we are Nature. And we have a responsibility to tend to it with care, not just for ourselves, but for those yet to come.

 “We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children.” 
- Chief Si'ahl

Frieda & Javvy
Founders, House of Hackney

Along with the additional responsibility and accountability that will be placed on safe-guarding futures in our business actions, we see this act as an opportunity to inspire our team, our factories, our audience, and other businesses with a reminder to consider Nature and future generations in all decision-making. We are open sourcing the legals and our hope is that we can support other businesses to bring Nature’s voice into their companies.
We are keen for other brands to explore bringing these important voices into their board rooms and we’d be thrilled to take you through the process if it is of interest. We have been generously guided on our journey by Faith in Nature, and Lawyers for Nature, and we are keen to pass this knowledge on and grow the momentum of Nature Rights in business. We see corporate activism as being an important part of this call to action.

After all, there is no business on a dead planet 

The New Year Brings New Hope 

As The pause between Christmas and New Year is a sacred one; a liminal moment where time transcends the confinements of the clock. A time without much expectation except to truly bed in and honour our body’s circadian rhythms and our innate need to winter. This sacred pause brings with it a time for reflection and dreaming up ideas for the new year ahead.

As we take pause and reflect on the past year, we are grateful for the deep learning journey the last 12 months have been for us at House of Hackney. It was where we started to ask ourselves some big questions around our purpose as a company, like “What is our reason for being?” and “What positive contributions can we make towards our planetary community?”

This year we began our evolution from being a sustainable business to a regenerative one; where instead of just ‘sustaining’ life we actively heal and restore our business touchpoints and communities. It’s been a year of starting to convert big thinking into new ways of doing business that put people and planet first.

Mother Nature started as our design muse back in 2011 when we launched House of Hackney. Our mission was to bring the beauty of the natural world into the home - we didn’t expect it to become our biggest teacher. More than any seasoned board member, Mother Nature, as the ultimate designer and architect, continues to teach us the most about how to run our organisation in ways that honour our living systems, which is why in October, we made the decision let her take a seat at the board table and legally made Mother Nature a director of the company. We felt the need to bring this ancient voice in, while at the same time we identified the growing importance of listening to the voices of the next and Future Generations, ensuring that we are considering our impacts on them. In our companies (and governments) we need to go beyond the detrimental short term planning that benefits only the few, to long term planning that truly considers the world that Future Generations will inherit. As the current stewards of the planet it is our responsibility to be good ancestors, and so we became the first company in the world to appoint a Future Generations director.

The appointment of our two new directors has forced us to compost old practices that we now know don’t align with Nature’s interests, to make space for new, kinder ones. As we start to operate under this new lens it is already making us more innovative and more creative.

Although the responsibility of considering Nature and Future Generations in our actions means saying ‘no more‘ to certain revenue streams and may impact on short term profitability, we know in our hearts that what is best for Nature is best for us, and best for business.

At House of Hackney this mission has encouraged everyone to bring their purpose to work every day. It has been beautiful to see our factory community come together this year for the first time in a spirit of collaboration instead of competition, sharing knowledge and innovation to help shift the industry towards new practices. It has been exciting to witness the need to find alternative materials and manufacturing methods drive true innovation.

To meet our goals we need some industries to catch up with these ways of thinking, in particular the paint industry, which is behind the curve on sustainable production, so we are working to develop a plant based binder which will alleviate the need for harsh chemicals and acrylic materials.With wallpaper as our primary business, we calculated that as a company we use 115 trees per year (a much smaller amount than we thought). Whilst we protected approximately 116,000 trees last year through our partnership with the World Land Trust, we are deeply uneasy with the cutting down of any trees, and in the coming year we will work with paper scientists to explore creating wallpaper from non-wood fibres.

After many years in the making, 2023 saw the exciting launch of our first mycelium products; products which are made from regenerative, completely biodegradable fungi fibres. In our future fabric collections, we will see the use of more regeneratively grown fibres. The vision we are working to make a reality is to regeneratively farm our materials in our local communities. The benefits for people and planet are huge; regenerative farming can heal a field in a year, sequesters carbon and increases biodiversity.

As we get further into our product journeys, we will be working on understanding the ‘true cost’ of our products. In business we only calculate the financial cost of a product but this is a false economy; we need to be asking what the cost to the earth and its communities are. We also realised that we can’t keep taking from Nature without giving back, so in 2024 we will launch a Royalties for Nature programme, where we recognise and remunerate Nature for her contribution to our company as teacher, muse, model, material, and architect, restoring and safeguarding Nature stewardship initiatives in the process.

We want to move away from the economics of pure fiscal growth being a measure of success which ultimately tends to drive exploitation of people and planet to attain ever higher profit margins.

We need to define new metrics of holistic success in business - ones that focus on the health of the organisation as a whole, which is ultimately underpinned by practices that promote the wellbeing of all. In the coming year we will start measuring the success of our business under the lens of balance between the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

Our journey over the past year has given us a lot of hope for the future. A year of collaboration and cooperation, we’ve met a whole new tribe of great people doing great things at community level; humble people whose invisible choices are healing the world, and the momentum is growing. In a time of despairing war and climate headlines it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless, however we end the year with active hope. With the Winter Solstice behind us we move towards Spring as the sun returns, charging us as we step into our power for good.

With love and hope,

Frieda & Javvy

Thank you for following us on this new path to deeper purpose and Nature first- practices in our beautiful organisation House of Hackney. As our customers we are grateful for your support on this journey. If you are interested in initiatives we are working on and would like to know more, please reach out on Instagram @houseofhackneyregen and we would be happy to share knowledge and resources.

An Introduction

There is change in the air this Spring.

As I sit in the garden in Cornwall, Nature is bursting into life and the show of Spring is revealing itself day by day. It’s a time of rebirth and new ideas.

Reflecting on our story so far I’m grateful for the postage stamp backyard of our house in Hackney that was the catalyst in 2011 to create a brand that would bring the natural world into the home. Giving birth to and sustaining a business is an exhilarating rollercoaster of a ride; similar to the raising of a child and the deep life learnings it teaches the parent along the way. The journey has taught us so much. Mother Nature was our design muse from the start and we could only but try to imitate her perfect forms and palette. We couldn’t take such endless inspiration from her without acting in reciprocity - not just by observing her but by deeply listening to her. She has become our biggest teacher on how to be and the need to ‘inter-be’ - acting in togetherness with our Earth community.

We can’t take without giving back, and over time House of Hackney has evolved in its purpose to be a voice for the natural world. As founders of the brand, we humbly work to deliver on this purpose. This is a work in progress; as we become more aware, we need to seek more creative and innovative solutions. As Maya Angelou so beautifully said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” We are dedicated to this mission.

As April 2023 marks 12 years of House of Hackney, we embark on a new chapter in the journey of the brand; one where we move the dial from being a ‘sustainable’ business to

becoming a truly ‘regenerative’ one. Instead of simply ‘sustaining’ our eco systems, we want to actively regenerate them, leaving our planet - our home - better than we found it.

Since our family moved to Cornwall 4 years ago, we’ve learnt a lot from our regenerative farmer neighbours about working with Nature’s systems and the benefits this can quickly bring to the health of the soil and people alike - so let’s look to Nature’s systems to regenerate our businesses. There is so much that we can learn from Nature. Nature takes just what it needs and doesn’t exploit; Nature champions the diversity of species through symbiosis; Nature fits form to function; Nature rewards cooperation and doesn’t value ownership; in Nature waste is never wasted. Nature doing well means everyone doing well and we want to embed these holistic principles in our company to benefit our people and planet. We have forgotten that we are Nature

Consumerism has become the predominant story. It claims that a progressively greater level of consumption is beneficial to everyone; it promises endless growth as something worth striving for and asks how much value can be extracted from the Earth and the people who call it home?

However the future is not won by repeating the old ways. Infinite growth in a finite world is no longer sustainable. Radical times call for radical action. Business as usual is no longer viable. 

The Covid pandemic reminded us of the fragility of our eco and life systems, of the importance of equilibrium in how we operate and of the importance of time spent in Nature .

In the absence of integrity and inspiring leadership in our governments, we need in Gandhi’s words, “To be the change we want to see in the world”. We believe in the power for business to be a force for good and that it has the ability to balance the needs of people, planet and profit. It’s time to unlearn the old and replace the capitalist story with a new one - one that speaks to how companies can positively impact the communities they touch, and where new metrics of collaboration, holism and happiness replace exploitation, separation and extraction.

Think of the beautiful origins of the word ‘company’. The wisdom keeper and life-long activist Satish Kumar reminds us in his 2023 book Radical Love, that the wordcomes from the Latin ‘companio’, meaning ‘one who eats bread with you’ and the French ‘compagnie’, which means, ‘friendship and society’. It originally described how merchants would gather, share stories, eat together, and trade. 


House of Hackney was founded around our kitchen table; the sharing hub of our home. In our companies we need to move from a transactional business model to one which has relationships and community at the heart of it. As E.F. Schumacher’s landmark book Small is Beautiful celebrates its 50th year, its message is perhaps more important today than when it was written. Arguing for an economic landscape in which people and planet truly matter, he wrote about the importance of environmental sustainability, living within the limits of our planet and the bringing together of communities. He believed the principle purpose of economics should be the establishment of fulfilling livelihoods for all. Given today’s global financial, energy and food crises, climate change, growing inequality and social tensions, perhaps now is a good time to revisit his work.

In early 2023, my senior management team and I embarked on studying Regenerative Economics; an economic model that moves away from extractive business models and unlocks the potential for positive contributions to Nature and society. Using Nature as a blueprint for business is a fast growing movement and it feels as though we are on the cusp of seismic change and the birth of a new narrative. But right now, although the study of regenerative economics is gaining big traction there are as yet few practical examples of companies actively applying these principles in business. On paper House of Hackney is a pioneering, sustainable B-Corp brand. Year- on -year we set ourselves higher targets as our level of awareness rises. We are learning on the job. Where we used to plant trees we learnt that protecting ancient woodland is even more important to our ecosystems. In 2022 we helped protect 170 acres of sacred trees thanks to our partnership with the World Land Trust, and we proudly became a certified carbon neutral company. We value our people and a work life balance and we were an early pioneer of the 4 day week and shorter winter hours, honouring our natural circadian rhythms. But we know we can do more.

In the spirit of sharing and collaboration that is so needed right now, we are going to put our neck on the line and share our journey of stewarding House of Hackney towards becoming a regenerative business in the hope of inspiring others to join the movement. 

Nature teaches us that there is a time for everything. Yes it’s going to be hard, but knowing that this is in our nature and it’s the way that our universe works gives us a deep sense of purpose.

So we invite you to join us on this journey; not just as an observer but as a participant of meaningful transformation; where the possibilities and potential to do good with our businesses are endless.

With courage and love,

Frieda

Plan Of Action
RADICAL TIMES CALL FOR RADICAL ACTION

How are we going to do it? 

Instead of productivity alone we need to look at all aspects of our company through a lens of planetary and personal health, exploring how we can use Nature’s systems to improve the holistic design of our communities. 

We defined the pillars of change that we need to look to make a positive impact with:

  1. Our internal community (our team, culture and practises)
  2. Our factory communities (our supply base, culture and practises)
  3. Our local communities in our brand neighbourhoods of London, New York and Cornwall
  4. Our business communities
  5. Our governance and financing

We started with setting the overarching aims around our mission to help drive out ideas and actions.

Base 1 Our Internal Community

We want to foster a culture where everyone has purpose and comes to work every day feeling that they are participating in something for the greater good .There is nothing in Nature that serves just one purpose and we want to call on the creativity and intelligence of each of our team members to join the journey.

We want to help our team forge stronger relationships to Nature so that each person is conscious of her in all decision-making; to nurture them to become positive advocates for Nature within their circles of influence, creating an ever -growing continuum of advocates and activists. A deeper connection to Nature makes for happier, healthier people.

Base 2 Our Factory Communities

How do we extend the aims of our team to our extended family - our factories - where we in turn work with them to grow their connection to Nature and raise their awareness of considering people and planet in all of their decision-making. How do we work together to find materials and processes that have a footprint of positive impact? How do we help support regeneration in our factories’ local communities? How do we fully trace back the source of our key materials, especially cotton and review its journey? Which materials do we need to find kinder alternatives to? How do we look at each product we are launching through a lens of it having a purpose and benefit?

Base 3 Our Local Communities

How do we actively engage to make a truly positive long standing impact on our local communities? In a homogenised globalised world we are excited at the prospect of a local future. In the words of Satish Kumar, 

“We need to think globally – one humanity, one earth family, one world future. But we need to act locally- we need to value the diversity of local community, local employment , local manufacturing, local arts…” 

We have forgotten our sense of place. How do we nurture the life of our communities, leaving them better than how we found them?

Base 4 Our Business Communities

As business leaders we have the opportunity to be part of the solution rather than the problem. We have a duty to optimise our systems as a whole rather than maximising short term economic gains for a few and the economic, social and ecological detriment of many.

We want to come together in collaboration instead of competition to share our wisdom and experience, ideas and solutions to co-create new models of regenerative business and nurture the movement. We want to hold to account exploitative financial models and welcome new ones that are in service to others. We want to learn how we can use our profit for better purposes and have a fair split between people, planet and shareholders’ interests. How do we make companies about relationships again? How do we bring a head-heart-hand approach to business?

Our Organisation

How do we consider Nature in all decision making? 



Financing

Beyond profit and high growth, how do we create and establish new metrics of what a successful business looks like with a focus on the holistic health of our companies through collective action and input? Finance gives life to business, but from our experience many of the current forms are too short term and extractive, benefitting only the few. 

Within this deep inquiry there will be small impactful pivots and long game actions; we will see the outcomes of some, while others will benefit future generations.

Nature & Future Generations On The Board 

As we write it’s November, which means acorn and mushroom season in the Northern hemisphere.

The majestic Oak, a much loved design muse to us at House of Hackney, is a  symbol of strength and wisdom that reminds us of our divine and enduring connection to Nature. There is a lot that we can learn from the wisdom of the Oak and the living systems it forms a part of, to inspire us in how we look after our communities and organisations.

Supported by its mycelium network, each part is dependent on the other in order to thrive, and each plays an equal and important part in the ecosystem, without the need for a leader, boss, or hierarchy of power.

Sadly us humans have forgotten that we are just a part of Nature’s living system. Indeed at only 200,000 years old compared to the tree’s 56 million, we are Nature’s saplings, and we don’t have the wisdom of Grandfather Oak yet. We have lost our way, thinking we have ownership over Nature when in fact we are Nature. 

We have forgotten how to live in kinship with the natural world, and this separation has gotten our planet into a lot of trouble. We have forgotten that we are part of a sacred web of life with all living organisms including plants, animals, rivers, mountains, oceans and their co-created living systems which have equal and inherent rights to exist and thrive.

In order to try to stabilise our precious eco-systems, of which we are dependent on for our own existence, we need to urgently bring Nature back into our community and back into communion with us. Nature doing well means us all doing well. In order to safeguard her we need to recognise Nature as a peer.

Nature has been our design muse from the start. But we can’t take such endless inspiration from Her without giving back and over time House of Hackney has evolved in its purpose to use its voice to represent the natural world we love so much and need to protect and serve. We need to look after it not just for our lifetimes but for future generations. As founders of the brand we humbly work to deliver on this purpose.

Year- on - year we set ourselves higher targets of restoring more than we take. We learnt (and continue to learn) on the job. Where we used to plant trees we learnt that protecting ancient woodland is even more important for our ecosystems.

In 2022 we helped protect 170 acres of sacred woodland thanks to our partnership with the World Land Trust, and we proudly became a certified carbon neutral company. We give 1% of our sales to people and planet initiatives and we’ve ensured that we’ve grown at a slow and steady level. We don’t believe that fast growth and planetary wellbeing is compatible.

However radical times call for radical action and it’s time to move the dial further. It’s no longer enough to just be sustainable - to merely ‘sustain’ life - we need to restore and ultimately regenerate it, actively leaving our planetary community, our home, better than we found it.

In these urgent times where we are exceeding planetary boundaries, and in the absence of leaders with integrity who show that they are committed to tackling the climate crisis, the business sector has a big opportunity to step into its power and use it for good. We have an economic system based on unlimited growth in a finite world. The extractive, exploitative capitalist business model focuses on shareholder wealth, which only benefits the few at the detriment of the natural world and our future ancestors. This has played a major part in getting the world into the mess we now find ourselves in, and the private sector now has a duty to pivot into action.

We have been following the growing momentum of the Nature Rights movement, where ecosystems such as rivers, lakes and mountains are given legal personhood in the same manner as human beings. 

This movement has the opportunity to right many wrongs and truly shift the narrative away from a human-centric view to solve so many of the planetary crises we are facing today.

Such a change in our legal and political thinking would produce a shift from our current extractive economy towards a regenerative economy and make political institutions accountable for any damage to the environment. This will benefit not only the natural world but every aspect of our lives too.

It was around this time last year that we learned the excitingnews that B Corp cosmetics company Faith in Nature had made a powerful and pioneering move; they had put Nature on their board. Faith in Nature had become the first company in the world to bring Nature into the very heart of their decision-making process by making Mother Nature herself a director, thereby giving her an active voice (and vote), ensuring that the natural world’s best interests are represented at all times. This spoke to the very heart of our brand.

This A few weeks before this news, US brand Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard had also made global headlines when his company took an unprecedented move in transferring all profits to protecting Nature and declaring thatEarth is now our only shareholder”, using the wealth they create to protect the source of all wealth. As Yvon so simply put, 

“Without a healthy environment there are no shareholders, no employees, no customers and no business.”

- Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia

The act of putting Nature on the board was hugely inspiring to us. To do this ourselves would mean that we could go beyond our good intentions and structure something meaningful and legal which would also safeguard Nature through all of the company’s touchpoints. We would no longer personally need to be the main advocates of considering Nature in our actions – it would be deeply and legally enshrined in our company directives now and in the future. 

So we reached out to Lawyer’s for Nature, who had worked with Faith in Nature to create the articles that would give legal personhood to Nature and asked if they could help us to formally bring her into our board room. 

Lawyer’s for Nature are part of an exciting movement using the power of the law to give Nature the protections afforded to people, and a much needed voice. Co-founder Brontie Ansell guided us on our journey, and she will stand as a representative for the voices of Mother Nature & Future Generations.

We wanted to take the process one step further and appoint a Future Generations director to ensure that they are also considered in our decision making. As parents we are deeply concerned for the world we will leave our children. We are the first generation to grow up knowing about climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it.

Business, like our governments, has focused on short term planning, ignoring the impact on the future. We can learn a lot about good governance from Indigenous Peoples, who safeguard 80% of the planet's species. They have shown how they are trusted custodians of the world. We are particularly inspired by the principle of 7th Generation Thinking, where decisions are made considering the impact on those 7 generations in the future.

Learning about this long term planning galvanised usto rip up our 3-5 year business plan and instead go deep into the ancient sequoia woods near our home to sit in Nature and start to create a vision for what House of Hackney’s 150 year mission and ultimately legacy could be. What is our purpose for existing? The world didn't need another interiors brand when we launched 12 years ago and it certainly won't need one in 150 years time.

We We defined our long term purpose as:

Using the creativity and beauty of the natural world to encourage connection and the protection of Nature, safeguarding it for the generations to come.

This mission became our North Star which all shorter term planning needs to align with; if it doesn't, it doesn't make the cut. 

As we invite Nature and Future Generations into our board room, everything will come under scrutiny. It will make us ask difficult questions and confront our responsibility to these important stakeholders. Saying ‘no’ when we must, and seeking more beautiful, kinder, innovative solutions is an important part of our journey and we have a lot to learn along the way. But we are up for the challenge, and ultimately, we have no choice.

The new director will support us in making strategic and significant decisions that impact Nature and Future Generations with the freedom to consult a wide network of experts as and when required. The system is designed in a way to avoid bias personally, professionally and financially, and to provide a truly ethical view of the business and all decisions made. Their voice is independent of our business interests therefore they can freely advocate for Nature and Future Generations.

Right now we are in the depths of a planetary emergency. As it currently stands we are heading towards a world in 2100 that is 3 degrees warmer than today with potentially devastating consequences for billions of people. We are 6 years away from the 2030 goals set in the Paris agreement to tackle climate change and shift towards a net zero emissions world, and in the absence of trustworthy governance, we need responsible leaders to drive the change.

Business as usual is no longer an option.
We can no longer be bystanders in a broken system.

The Although it’s easy to feel that big business runs the world, it’s a hopeful statistic that 99.9% of UK businesses are SMEs.

Imagine the impact that the sector could make if we came together and co- created a new vision for the future where long term planning and benefits for all replaced short term gains for the few. 

We need Nature to have a voice, a vote and a presence in our board rooms.

A Nature-positive business might seem like a paradox right now, but as we bring Nature’s voice into our companies and use metrics of mutual flourishing and  wellbeing across people, planet and profit, a better future can be unlocked. Business holds the key to this transformation from our current extractive economy towards a regenerative one, and to a society and planet that serves all. This will benefit not only the natural environment but every aspect of our lives.

Leaving a legacy is not about leaving money in the bank, it’s about leaving our world better than how we found it. This reparation work is our legacy.

Nature doesn’t belong to us, we are Nature. And we have a responsibility to tend to it with care, not just for ourselves, but for those yet to come.

 “We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children.” 
Chief Si'ahl

Frieda & Javvy
Founders, House of Hackney

Along with the additional responsibility and accountability that will be placed on safe-guarding futures in our business actions, we see this act as an opportunity to inspire our team, our factories, our audience, and other businesses with a reminder to consider Nature and future generations in all decision-making. We are open sourcing the legals and our hope is that we can support other businesses to bring Nature’s voice into their companies.
We are keen for other brands to explore bringing these important voices into their board rooms and we’d be thrilled to take you through the process if it is of interest. We have been generously guided on our journey by Faith in Nature, and Lawyers for Nature, and we are keen to pass this knowledge on and grow the momentum of Nature Rights in business. We see corporate activism as being an important part of this call to action.

After all, there is no business on a dead planet 

The New Year Brings New Hope 

As The pause between Christmas and New Year is a sacred one; a liminal moment where time transcends the confinements of the clock. A time without much expectation except to truly bed in and honour our body’s circadian rhythms and our innate need to winter. This sacred pause brings with it a time for reflection and dreaming up ideas for the new year ahead.

As we take pause and reflect on the past year, we are grateful for the deep learning journey the last 12 months have been for us at House of Hackney. It was where we started to ask ourselves some big questions around our purpose as a company, like “What is our reason for being?” and “What positive contributions can we make towards our planetary community?”

This year we began our evolution from being a sustainable business to a regenerative one; where instead of just ‘sustaining’ life we actively heal and restore our business touchpoints and communities. It’s been a year of starting to convert big thinking into new ways of doing business that put people and planet first.

Mother Nature started as our design muse back in 2011 when we launched House of Hackney. Our mission was to bring the beauty of the natural world into the home - we didn’t expect it to become our biggest teacher. More than any seasoned board member, Mother Nature, as the ultimate designer and architect, continues to teach us the most about how to run our organisation in ways that honour our living systems, which is why in October, we made the decision let her take a seat at the board table and legally made Mother Nature a director of the company. We felt the need to bring this ancient voice in, while at the same time we identified the growing importance of listening to the voices of the next and Future Generations, ensuring that we are considering our impacts on them. In our companies (and governments) we need to go beyond the detrimental short term planning that benefits only the few, to long term planning that truly considers the world that Future Generations will inherit. As the current stewards of the planet it is our responsibility to be good ancestors, and so we became the first company in the world to appoint a Future Generations director.

The appointment of our two new directors has forced us to compost old practices that we now know don’t align with Nature’s interests, to make space for new, kinder ones. As we start to operate under this new lens it is already making us more innovative and more creative.

Although the responsibility of considering Nature and Future Generations in our actions means saying ‘no more‘ to certain revenue streams and may impact on short term profitability, we know in our hearts that what is best for Nature is best for us, and best for business.

At House of Hackney this mission has encouraged everyone to bring their purpose to work every day. It has been beautiful to see our factory community come together this year for the first time in a spirit of collaboration instead of competition, sharing knowledge and innovation to help shift the industry towards new practices. It has been exciting to witness the need to find alternative materials and manufacturing methods drive true innovation.

To meet our goals we need some industries to catch up with these ways of thinking, in particular the paint industry, which is behind the curve on sustainable production, so we are working to develop a plant based binder which will alleviate the need for harsh chemicals and acrylic materials.With wallpaper as our primary business, we calculated that as a company we use 115 trees per year (a much smaller amount than we thought). Whilst we protected approximately 116,000 trees last year through our partnership with the World Land Trust, we are deeply uneasy with the cutting down of any trees, and in the coming year we will work with paper scientists to explore creating wallpaper from non-wood fibres.

After many years in the making, 2023 saw the exciting launch of our first mycelium products; products which are made from regenerative, completely biodegradable fungi fibres. In our future fabric collections, we will see the use of more regeneratively grown fibres. The vision we are working to make a reality is to regeneratively farm our materials in our local communities. The benefits for people and planet are huge; regenerative farming can heal a field in a year, sequesters carbon and increases biodiversity.

As we get further into our product journeys, we will be working on understanding the ‘true cost’ of our products. In business we only calculate the financial cost of a product but this is a false economy; we need to be asking what the cost to the earth and its communities are. We also realised that we can’t keep taking from Nature without giving back, so in 2024 we will launch a Royalties for Nature programme, where we recognise and remunerate Nature for her contribution to our company as teacher, muse, model, material, and architect, restoring and safeguarding Nature stewardship initiatives in the process.

We want to move away from the economics of pure fiscal growth being a measure of success which ultimately tends to drive exploitation of people and planet to attain ever higher profit margins.

We need to define new metrics of holistic success in business - ones that focus on the health of the organisation as a whole, which is ultimately underpinned by practices that promote the wellbeing of all. In the coming year we will start measuring the success of our business under the lens of balance between the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

Our journey over the past year has given us a lot of hope for the future. A year of collaboration and cooperation, we’ve met a whole new tribe of great people doing great things at community level; humble people whose invisible choices are healing the world, and the momentum is growing. In a time of despairing war and climate headlines it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless, however we end the year with active hope. With the Winter Solstice behind us we move towards Spring as the sun returns, charging us as we step into our power for good.

With love and hope,

Frieda & Javvy

Thank you for following us on this new path to deeper purpose and Nature first- practices in our beautiful organisation House of Hackney. As our customers we are grateful for your support on this journey. If you are interested in initiatives we are working on and would like to know more, please reach out on Instagram @houseofhackneyregen and we would be happy to share knowledge and resources.

Designed to be a think tank for change, the Garden of Tomorrow
is a story of hope and solution. Our aim is to inspire other leaders,
entrepreneurs and consumers to do things differently and to be an
advocate for our beautiful planet and fellow kin.

- Co-Founder, Frieda Gormley

Designed to be a think tank for change, the Garden of  Tomorrow is a story of hope and solution. Our aim is to inspire other leaders, entrepreneurs and consumers to do things differently and to be an advocate for our beautiful planet and fellow kin.

- Co-Founder, Frieda Gormley

‘Nature is Everyone's Business’

Since the day our House was built, a sense of compassion for people and planet
has served as the foundation of everything we do.

Our Values

Discover More

Our Purpose

Discover More

‘Nature is Everyone's Business’

Since the day our House was built, a sense of compassion for people and planet has served as the foundation of everything we do.

Our Values

Discover More

Our Purpose

Discover More