Aerende is an award-winning social enterprise online shop that sells beautiful products and gifts for the home, all of them made in the UK by people facing social challenges and who struggle to access or maintain conventional employment.
It commissions and co-designs products with charities and social enterprises that support individuals who are facing these barriers. Many of the makers are good at what they do but are not confident about getting their products to market and this is the role that Aerende takes on. Part of Aerende’s purpose is to challenge the stigma around the capabilities of people that might have been in prison or who have a disability or other barriers to employment. Whilst Aerende doesn’t employ the makers directly, it helps the charities and social enterprises to reach a luxury niche market that most charities and social enterprises would not be able to access. Every product is purchased up front from the maker organisation. This gives the respective charities and social enterprises a sustainable income and the makers a meaningful experience and, for some, employment.
Aerende works with 13 charities and social enterprises in this way and has 90 makers, two of these organisations are working with individuals in Hertfordshire.
Emily Mathieson, CEO of Aerende says
“We create opportunities for people in this country who have amazing skills but are overlooked and don’t have opportunities for employment, to be part of the craft sector which is not very diverse”
Aerende is a company limited by guarantee and was founded in 2016. Its business model is to benefit solely those who work within it (by keeping all surplus funds within the business), rather than shareholders or financial institutions. Aerende mostly sells products on-line but has also won commissions from hotel chains for bespoke products and has recently embarked on a wholesaling revenue stream. It is a business run with ethical considerations with ethical banking, only using renewable energy and compostable packaging.
“We are passionate about the wide range of proven benefits of craft making (from enhanced mental health and mobility to reduced isolation) and in the value that making-based charities, social enterprises and community organisations bring to the people they support and society at large. Running a business provokes thought and discussion by our buyers, they feel good about shopping in this way and this encourages them to think a bit more deeply about who else they shop with”. Emily Mathieson