Sustainability’s the name of the game where Big Tree Little Tree’s concerned, a company that sells seeded stationery to encourage people to grow their own food. Owner and visionary Sally Morris spills the beans… literally!
Sally Morris owns and runs Big Tree Little Tree, promoting sustainability through a range of seeded stationery – cards, gift tags, wrapping paper and recipe cards all made with seeded paper that you can plant to grow your own food. The business has only been going two years and counts Mary Portas as one of its fans. What more can we say? We’ll let Sally tell you the rest…
”The idea for the company came from watching the Philippe Starck programme Design For Life. A girl was doing a pitch to a large company selling a planted product and I thought, wouldn’t it be a good idea to leave a copy of her pitch behind on seeded paper to really make them remember her.
"I did a bit of research and found out that seeded paper was actually quite common - but in general it was being produced with Canadian wildflower seeds and the designs were all pretty naff. I got in contact with a botanist, designed some shapes and had them made up. The rest has grown from there.
"When I was first testing the seeds my windowsills were full as I tested everything in various different stages. I don’t really have a garden as such and I wanted to prove that a garden wasn’t essential to growing a small amount of fruits, flowers or vegetables.
"I’m everything in the business, from accounts to design to sales and marketing, although I have had help along the way from friends and family - and anyone who is happy to be paid in tea and cake.”
“At Christmas time I can’t make enough of the You Nose It’s Christmas card, which has an illustration of a snowman on the front with a carrot nose that you can pull off, plant and grow carrots. It’s my favourite hands down, I like anything with a pun! Overall, however, I’d say the Strawberry Fool recipe card is my most popular product - probably because it’s a cute design and who doesn’t like strawberries?
"The business has grown in every way since it began. We started with one set of four cards on a Christmas market and, just over two years later, we have close to 100 stockists across the UK and Europe. We regularly attend trade shows across the UK and we now have a range of 21 different designs that encompass wrapping paper, gift tags, bookmarks and cards.
"The most exciting thing to happen to the business happened at the Pulse Trade show this summer. Mary Portas and her team were there and, working in conjunction with House of Fraser, they were on the lookout for new products. I had sent in our cards for consideration and, out of 170 entrants we were one of seven companies chosen to go through to the next stage - a live Dragons Den-style presentation in front of an audience and judging panel. It was the most nerve-wracking thing I have ever done but we got a great response and we were chosen along with two others to have our products stocked within the Mary Portas concession in the House of Fraser stores!"
It is easy being green
”Almost everything’s sustainable! The cards are printed using vegetable inks onto recycled kraft board, the seeded shape is made from starch and dissolves as it’s watered and the cello wrap packaging is made from corn starch and is compostable. Our glue dots are probably the only element that isn’t recyclable - but we’re working on that. Sustainability is a responsibility. I think people are now more aware of the effects on the environment if we don’t act in an eco-friendly way, and now people in general are just stepping up to do their bit.
"It’s just time and effort. It’s so easy to just chuck stuff in a landfill bin rather than sort it all into recycling piles or walk down to the bottle bank. It just takes a bit of time and extra effort to do the right thing, but it’s worth it in the long run, and it makes you feel like a better person.
"Research is key. I thought I was stuck having made an eco-friendly card and having to package it up in a plastic bag. That just wasn’t an option, so I had to put a bit of effort in, but eventually I found a company that make cello bags from corn starch. They break down in your compost bin and so are a much more environmentally friendly option. It took a bit of effort to find them but, again, it’s worth it.”