Every week, we’re shining a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homewares and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.
From fashion and beauty to homeware and accessories, we’ll be bringing you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week, we chat to Jennie Elderkin, designer and founder of LIGA. Pronounced ‘leega’, Jennie co-founded the brand with her husband David and they create contemporary eco-friendly homeware accessories from sustainable cork.
How did LIGA come about?
My background is in interior design, sales and retail which eventually led me to open my own lifestyle shops in Cornwall. Whilst sourcing brands for the stores, I was on a mission to find great eco-friendly products that were useful, practical and affordable. I really struggled to find what I was looking for both in the UK and on overseas buying trips, so I decided to design my own collection, which launched in January 2017. Having my own retail shops gave me the opportunity to test products, identify bestsellers and learn what my customers wanted.
The name LIGA was originally from the acronym Lifestyle, Interiors, Gifts and Art (the four categories of product that we sold in the shop). At first, I didn’t have a clear direction on which products I would design, I just knew they had to be made from sustainable materials, have a purpose and be affordable. Once I started to share the LIGA name I found out that in other cultures the word means ‘collection of people’, which really appealed to me. Change happens when we work together, so we now define LIGA as a collection of people who love eco-living. One day it might be a word in the dictionary!
Why did you choose cork?
I have always loved the feeling of warmth that you get from touching cork, but I was totally unaware of what an amazing material it is until I started doing my research. My initial design idea was to print contemporary patterns on natural materials, so I started experimenting with this and the fascination with cork grew from there. Cork is totally environmentally friendly from the way it is grown, to the harvest through to the products themselves, which miraculously continue to absorb CO2 even as a coaster on your table.
What 3 words would you use to describe the LIGA aesthetic?
Simple, eco, useful.
Who is the LIGA customer?
Our customer is switched on – they are concerned and aware of what we are doing to our planet, with a desire to be part of the solution by buying useful products in sustainable materials. They appreciate good design, make stylish sustainable choices for their home and give thoughtful gifts that reflect well on them and promote their ideals for living.
Where do you get inspiration from?
All of our designs are inspired by nature. Luckily, living in the countryside in Cornwall we are surrounded by so much beauty and so inspiration is around every corner.
How does LIGA strive to be sustainable?
We only use sustainable materials for our products – cork, bamboo, organic cotton… We use minimal packaging and only eco-friendly packaging when needed. We’re based in Cornwall and have created our own warehouse, offices and showroom from shipping containers insulated with cork.
Which is your current favourite LIGA piece?
Our Beach Clean range is our bestselling range, made from a mix of recycled plastics cleverly combined with cork. We have more products launching soon in this material which is very exciting. My favourite products change – at the moment we have pine cone placemats on our table at home which I love – although my favourite new design at the moment is the hydrangea placemats and coaster, as they are beautifully feminine and simple in design.
Anything exciting planned for this year?
We are super excited about launching our next Beach Clean collection, which is so close to our hearts, surrounded by the coast as we live in Cornwall. Our other big news is that we have a LIGA shop set to open in April in Fowey, Cornwall. We are currently in the final stages of refurbishing the store which is in a Grade 2 listed building and was once a medieval bakery. The LIGA Eco store will not only showcase all of our collection – now over 400 products – but also feature other inspirational, sustainable brands and bespoke products.