For the series Good Folk on this blog I have sent interview questions to some really wonderful people who are either making things, running shops, or generally promoting sustainability. I think you will enjoy reading their answers as much as I have, and I hope they inspire us all with the knowledge that there are people doing good in the world!
This interview is with Joey from Leiho, a brand with a simple but important mission to make purchasing more meaningful. I met Joey, and her business partner Thuta at a sustainable Christmas market last year, and immediately loved their business model. Here Joey explains what that business is and her tips for ethical shopping.
Tell me about yourself and the work that you do.
I’m Joey Li and I am the founder of Leiho with my business partner Thuta. Leiho is a social impact brand that helps provide basic essentials for people in need. Our journey began with bamboo socks because clean socks are the most requested item of clothing at homeless shelters. For every pair of socks sold, we give another pair to a homeless person.
How or why did you get started?
I was always passionate about wanting to find different ways to help people in need. There are so many basic essentials out there that vulnerable communities need and by offering a creative and fun way to share them will hopefully inspire more people to do good in their lives. Take socks as an example, everyone wears socks and buys socks but there are a lot of homeless people who need socks, so sharing another pair with someone can really help improve their quality of life.
What is your favourite thing about the materials that you work with?
Our socks are made with bamboo and bamboo only requires 1/3 of the water that cotton uses. It is also hypoallergenic, temperature adapting and super soft!
How has working sustainably impacted your non-business life?
I feel like your business and personal values should always go hand in hand so by being a sustainable brand that considers the environment in all business decisions, it makes me more conscious about how I purchase from other brands and the decisions I make in my own life. I have stopped using plastic bags, I am starting to buy fruit and veg that isn’t wrapped in plastic and I no longer use wrapping paper that can’t be recycled.
What are you most proud of?
What are your plans for the future?
We hope to expand our product line according to social causes we want to support. We want every item at Leiho to help someone in need but also be good for the environment.
Can you recommend any other makers or businesses that work in an ethical or sustainable way?
There are so many brands out there that we love but in terms of sustainable brands, we love Pangaia, Patagonia and of course we love Stellen’s jewellery, it is so nice to see brands find ways to repurpose wasted materials!
Have you got a particular cause or issue that you would like to raise awareness of?
There are too many causes and issues that we are passionate about raising awareness for but something close to my heart would probably be mental health and helping lonely old people!
Do you have a motto or quote that defines your practice?
“No act of kindness, no matter how big or small, is ever wasted” - Aesop
Do you have any advice for people trying to shop more ethically?
Invest in yourself and if that means buying pieces that are nicer and last longer then it’s always worth it. I’m sure we’ve all in the past bought from fast fashion brands with pieces that break or wear out after a couple of times which is just not sustainable at all. In terms of ethically shopping it doesn’t stop and start at fashion there are so many other ways you can shop ethically such as switching your shampoo, body wash or even make up to eco-friendly, chemical free and cruelty free products!
What’s your favourite thing to do with your free time and why?
I am such a foodie so I love cooking and experimenting different recipes in the kitchen! It is so therapeutic and just too much fun!
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
You will start to fear a lot of things in life as you get older especially when responsibilities and life kicks in but you will never get over your fears unless you face them. Fear only holds you back from getting where you want to be but once you learn to accept fear, you’ll learn to overcome it.
What would be the top thing that you would change about the way we treat the planet if you could?
Be mindful about recycling, repurpose when you can, reduce your plastic consumption
Where can we find you on the internet/buy your work?
You can find us on www.leiho.co.uk but we also sell on several online marketplaces such as Not on the Highstreet, Wearth, Social Supermarket and few more.
Photographs by @leiho_uk