Katie Fewings is Managing Director and Co-Founder of Ethical Weddings, a comprehensive resource for anyone planning a wedding but want to stay true to their values. Her career started with a degree in Modern Languages, a stint as a PA for an architecture firm and working as a project manager at an online ethical travel company and a communications coordinator for a charity.
Here, Katie Fewings talks to SocialBusiness.org on how she started Ethical Weddings, the inner-workings of the business, as well as her inspirations and the importance of a good night's sleep.
Four Questions with Katie Fewings
1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
It all started when we were planning our own wedding for April 2005. We loved the concept of fair trade and hated the idea of anyone being exploited (sweatshop labour for a wedding dress?) for us to celebrate our love for one another and so decided to try to make our wedding day as "fair" as possible. Along the way we also became more and more aware of the environmental impact of our nuptial choices and so tried to minimize this wherever we could. We started our planning by looking online for fair trade wedding suppliers and ethical wedding resources and bit by bit, after hours and hours of searching, we began to find the people who could help us. And this is what led us to set up the Ethical Weddings website, to gather all this information in one place – top tips, suppliers, real ethical wedding stories -- and make it easier for other brides and grooms to plan an ethical, green wedding.
2. How did you decide to join this sector?
I’ve gradually moved in this direction since leaving university in 2000 (studying Modern Languages -- nothing to do with what I’m doing now!). I was always interested in social justice (or what was and wasn’t fair) and wanted a career where I could make a difference in some way. For some years I was a PA for a firm of architects that placed a great deal of importance on sustainability. I then moved to Brighton and the ethical online travel company, responsibletravel.com, where I worked part time as Project Manager and organized their annual Responsible Tourism Awards scheme. As I was already working on Ethical Weddings at this stage, the role was a fantastic opportunity to learn how a social business and an online business is run. While at responsibletravel.com, a colleague and I set up Our Ethical Network, where ethical businesses in Brighton and beyond could meet up to share ideas, problems and inspiration. My next part time role (while still working on Ethical Weddings) was as Online Communications Coordinator for the charity, Action for Market Towns (www.towns.org.uk) which gave me the chance to play a small part in reviving our high streets and supporting our communities. I have recently undertaken freelance work for Ethical SEO and the director of the company (who I met through Our Ethical Network) is now involved in Ethical Weddings too.
3. How do you get your inspiration?
From the ever expanding ethical wedding sector. The recession has seen the makers among us –- those with practical skills such as sewing, knitting, baking, jewelry making –- take center stage and whereas "green" and "ethical" were once seen as a bit worthy, dull and hippie-fied, now the designers and craftspeople who hold these values dear are creating with beauty and style. I’m overwhelmed by the abundance of talent and want to share it!
4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
Erm… no rituals, just a little peace and quiet, a good night’s sleep beforehand and a clear head. So with a toddler and a newborn to look after, you might say my creativity is on hold at the moment, hopefully soon to be reset!