Little Difference launched their crowdfunding campaign today, click here and make sure to support their reforestation project 1 card = 1 tree while helping to provide employment to many communities in Madagascar. Who are Little Difference? An ethical and sustainable art design company offering Greeting Cards, Art Prints, Calendars, Weddings and more. Read my interview with Sophie Stevens, a geology graduate, an artist from the Isle of Wight and co-founder of Little difference.
1 CARD = 1 TREE
Share with our readers briefly what Little Difference is about?
Little Difference creates beautiful hand designed Greeting Cards, Art prints, Notebooks and Calendars all made from 100% recycled card and wrapped in 100% biodegradable cornstarch bags. For every single product sold, 1 Tree is planted in Madagascar towards permanent reforestation. The products are printed in the UK and shipped to anywhere in the world.
Who is Sophie Stevens? Tell us a little about yourself and background?
I am an artist and a nature lover, originally from the Isle of Wight and currently living in New Zealand. Me and my partner Pete started Little Difference in January 2016, we love to travel and run the business from wherever we are. I draw all the designs by hand, getting inspiration from wherever I am, and whatever I see around me.
What inspired you to start your own sustainable art design company?
We spend a lot of my time outdoors, surrounded by nature, and we realize the importance now more than ever that we all need to try and do our bit to protect it. I also studied papers on climate change and sea-level rise at university and learned a lot about what is happening to the global climate, and the consequences.
Can you explain the concept and mission of Little Difference?
At Little Difference we donate to the planting of 1 tree for every single product sold. Even for something as small as a greeting card, a tree will be planted, cared for, and protected to maturity in Madagascar. The mission of Little Difference is to plant as many trees as possible, helping to restore land which has been deforested. Not only is the tree planting helping to reforest the landscape, it provides jobs to local people, paying them a decent wage and lifting them out of poverty. This also teaches them how vitally important the protection of the forest is, as it’s now also their livelihood and they depend on it for a living.
What is reforestation?
Reforestation is the replanting of an area with trees. 90% of the forest in Madagascar has been cut down and the multiple effects are overwhelming. Red top soil is eroding into rivers and sea life stocks are being depleted due to run off. The country is bleeding red from it’s rivers out into the ocean and filling up the estuaries. People are starving because nothing will grow in the now arid land which was once rich forest. Reforestation is what must happen to sustain life and human well being and also help bring back what has been lost on the island of Madagascar.
Photo Credit: www.littledifference.org (I Got You a Tree Card #097)
You have a crowdfunding campaign going on right now with UpEffect on October 3rd, 2017 (which is today), tell us what are your objectives and how we all can participate and help?
Yes! We are launching a crowdfunding campaign to try and reach more people and plant more trees, creating jobs and helping to lift people out of poverty in Madagascar. If you would like to help, and receive Little Difference products at a really good price, please pledge on our crowdfunding page here: https://www.theupeffect.com/little-difference/ and help us to plant more trees and save more lives.
Also, see our crowdfunding video here If you’d like more info:
Right now, you offer 4 main products which are: greeting cards, art prints, calendars and notebooks. Everything is hand designed, then printed on recycled card and package in biodegradable cornstarch wrapping. How important it is for you to have a positive impact on the natural environment with the products you design?
For me, this is the most important thing. If the business didn't have a positive impact on the natural environment, I wouldn't do it. The more I am learning about how humans are impacting the environment, the more I am trying to make changes to my lifestyle and the things I do day to day which could be making a difference.
Little Difference partners with an American based reforestation charity - Eden Reforestation Projects. Can you tell us more about them and what they do? Where can we learn more about this organization?
Wow, they are such an incredible charity. It wasn't until we went to visit the planting sites in Madagascar earlier in the year, that I realized quite how important the work they are doing really is. On the surface they are a reforestation charity, but it is so much more than that. Whole communities are changing for the better, Eden Reforestation Projects will oversee the work but all employees are local Malagasy people and are learning so much about the importance of protecting the forest. Something else we noticed was that there is virtually no gender inequality, with a large majority of Eden Project employees being women, including many of the leadership roles. You can learn more about Eden Projects at https://edenprojects.org.
What are the changes you've witness in the local people's life who are planting the trees on site? How do you ensure the environmental effect you've envision with Little Difference?
It was so great to meet so many of the local planters while in Madagascar. We saw people employed in dignified jobs who were happy and proud of what they were doing. They were able to send their kids to school, eat a well rounded diet, get healthcare for their families and were happy to go to work.
Photo Credit: www.littledifference.org (Soph with some of the Eden Projects nursery staff in Majunga)
Photo Credit: www.littledifference.org (1 month old mangrove planting in the same plantation near Majunga. Note the small saplings planted between the sparse mature mangroves to establish full forest cover again)
What's been a specific challenge since you've started your business? How did you overcome it?
As with most start-ups, having enough in the bank to try and keep the business afloat is always a challenge! But we can say the business has grown completely organically with no outside help. We also had some skeptics at the start about the tree planting, and we had to be very weary about making sure the money went exactly to the correct place, but now we have been there, meet the people and witnessed it firsthand we have full confidence that the money is being donated correctly.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I work long hours on the business, but always make sure I am making time to enjoy life around work. I will try and go out on my mountain bike or out running most days (or skiing in winter) and do yoga. I travel a lot and always get itchy feet to visit new places, trying to get out of my comfort zone and experience new things.
As women entrepreneurs, what do you think are the most significant obstacles to women’s leadership?
There has always been obstacles for woman in the work place and I think there always will be, I think women quite often don't get taken as seriously when in a leadership role and people can make it personal. However I see now more than ever the support that women have for each other and it makes me really proud to be female. If we stand together and support each other rather than judge or be jealous we can really help the opinion of women in leadership.
After the crowdfunding campaign, what’s next for Little Difference?
After the rather large glass of wine! We will continue to push sales in more countries, including trying to get in to more retailers worldwide. We have also just launched a couple of new products (Notebooks and a new Calendar) so we will be showcasing these and of course constantly drawing new designs - my favorite bit!
Do you ship worldwide? Where can customers purchase your art designs?
Absolutely! We ship anywhere in the world and all products can be found on our website www.littledifference.org. We also have over 100 retailers which are listed on the website too. Any questions, custom design queries, comments or advice please get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can follow Little Difference here:
Facebook: Little Difference
Hope you've enjoyed this interview and don't forget to subscribe to our Newsletter. If you have any questions, comments or would like to be featured in our #LadyBossInterview Series, please don't hesitate to contact us. Thank you!