Plant-based, not perfect – my calligraphy life!

It’s really interesting to be a creative person with a small business, especially when it comes to your ‘brand’. I mean, right now my ‘brand’ is layers of thermals, purple hair and papery chaos. That’s on the surface, at least!

I think what I’m trying to say is that I am my calligraphy business, and my brand is me. For the sake of instagram though, we all pick out our best bits (and hide the thermals)!

Slate order of the day sign for a Tebbey and Co wedding at Askham Hall
Photography – Jessica Reeve // Styling – Tebbey & Co at Askham Hall

A sustainable calligraphy business

Having a sustainable calligraphy business kind of depends on having a sustainable calligrapher. Having a brand means embracing your quirks – it also brings important aspects of your life into the foreground. For me, sustainability is really important. I’ll admit I’m nowhere near perfect: I pick and choose the sustainable steps I can make in life, and I mess up as often as I do good things. I’m trying my best.

I eat a plant-based diet. I haven’t had meat for a decade or so, and I rarely drink cow milk (only at other people’s houses). I do eat cheese, sweets and milk chocolate though! I buy organic veg because pesticides are killing our pollinators and contributing massively to the biodiversity crisis. I’m doing my little bit to eat sustainably.

My calligraphy studio is powered by Ecotricity, who invest in sustainable energy. My mobile contract is with Ecotalk, who use the money from customers’ bills to give land back to nature.

Slate signage for an Askham Hall wedding with Tebbey and Co

Ethical supplies for calligraphy

In my business, I try to use ethical supplies: FSC papers made in the UK, or ethically produced and supporting communities in India, and I always look for recycled packaging – and always recyclable with the exception of waterproof layers in my product packaging on rainy weeks!

Sustainable wedding stationery made in the UK

I source beautiful UK-milled calligraphy papers and write envelopes by hand. As well as being sustainable, it’s a lovely way of adding a personal touch to your wedding invitations and on-the-day stationery.

There are certain popular wedding trends I avoid: writing on acrylic (because weddings really need to stop using single-use plastic) and sea glass (there shouldn’t be glass in the sea!) as well as shells or stones whose origins I’m not 100% certain of.

I googled the origin of the pretty capiz shells which were trending a year or so ago… they were collected in great numbers from distant beaches, harming the food chain (I forget the details: see – I’m not perfect!).

That said, I’ll happily collect pebbles from the beach near me. There are literally millions – fifty here and there isn’t doing anyone any harm!

I’ve also added vegan inks to my calligraphy sets. They’re a little trickier to use, but it’s important to me that I give people the option of vegan inks. (Ink and glue often has animal derivatives and by-products, did you know?)

Slate signage for a Lake District wedding styled by Tebbey and Co

Conservation charity donations

Nature’s important to me. When I was making candles I donated a percentage of each sale to Orca, and then Cumbria Wildlife Trust. Now I still donate to Cumbria Wildlife Trust every month, but not as a percentage of sales – it’s harder to promote that when my calligraphy commissions are bespoke, and don’t have standardised pricing.

Taking action for climate and biodiversity

I’ve been actively involved in a campaign to save a local nature reserve from a holiday park development over the last year. I’m a big believer in standing up to protect nature – and in people power vs. corporates and bullies!

Last week I took part in Digital Rebellion for XR. Baby steps, but I’m glad I could do something – and in future I will do more.

Having said that, I do my best but I’m not saying I’m perfect: I still drive a petrol car, but I don’t holiday abroad very often, so I have teeny air miles under my belt!

So that’s my sustainable – as much as I can – brand and calligraphy business. If you’re looking for a sustainable option for your wedding invitations, place names or calligraphy signage, send me an email and we can chat about your big day!