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Interview with Harry Norris: founder of Big Little Brands, a marketplace where you can buy sustainable clothing and accessories

When ethics meets style

By Grazia Miano

Big Little Brands is a multi-brand e-commerce platform where you can shop sustainably. On this website you can find clothing, accessories and home-wear items. Launched in April 2020 it is already expanding rapidly and they are set to launch their new revamped website soon in June.

We interviewed the founder, Harry Norris to find out more about this sustainable marketplace.

Tell us about yourself. What is it like to run a startup business?

Hi, my name is Harry Norris, I’m 23 and I’ve lived in London my entire life. I studied Theology and Religion at Exeter University and started up my business, Big Little Brands back in April 2020.

Running a start up has been a fantastic learning experience for me. It really throws you into the deep end, and I think it has enabled me to understand both my strengths and my weaknesses. I’m very fortunate that I have always been surrounded by good and helpful people too!

So, tell us more about Big Little Brands and what we can find on your marketplace.

So BLB was born in April 2020, right at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, and we went live with our website in the December of the same year. The name has two parts to it. Firstly, the brands that we have on our market place are all what we would consider to be small businesses, they aren’t big name high street vendors and have a much more personalised connection with their customers.

We believe that these small businesses deserve the recognition and volume of customers that big businesses have, so we like to call them big little businesses, because whilst they are small now, they have the potential to be huge!

We have a huge variety of styles and products in our shop, everything from candles and soaps to hoodies and trainers. Everything is individual, and because these items come from small businesses they are unique in their own special way. At BLB you can find handmade items, locally produced and obviously in a sustainable way.

What does sustainability in fashion mean to you and how does this reflect on your business?

Sustainability has 1,000 different meanings depending on who you ask, but for me there are 2 key values, Ethics and Earth.

Earth refers to the use of damaging materials and processes in the manufacturing of items. We want to see more sustainable practices in the fashion industry. At BLB all of our brands are vetted (and continue to be checked every 3 months) to make sure they use sustainable practices such as organic or recycled materials.

We have also made the decision to working only with businesses from within Europe in order to minimise travel pollution in delivery and manufacturing. I don’t need to tell you how important our Earth is, but we know that continuing in our current state simply isn’t viable and so we want to be at the forefront of that change.

I think Ethics is a relatively easy value to understand. We simply don’t tolerate unethical fashion, and when we vet new brands for their Earth values we also look at who makes their products.
As a company we believe it is incredibly important to educate and inform people on why these two values are so important. But even more importantly, encouraging people to shop (wherever that might be) in a way that won’t damage the Earth or any living being.

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What is BLB's mission and goals? What are its strengths in helping consumers to buy sustainably?

I created BLB because I found it increasingly difficult to find small and sustainable businesses to shop from. Even when I did come across one, I found it even harder to find the item I was really looking for. I believe our strength is that we have centralised as many sustainable products as we could find onto one platform meaning there’s only one place you ever have to look!

Our goal is simple, we want to be THE place people visit to shop for high quality and affordable clothing, accessories and household items. We want to become the mainstream marketplace that offers fantastic products that can also operate on clean ethics and good sustainability. If we can offer products as good as anyone else and normalise proper manufacturing processes and materials then we will have done our job.

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Image: Big Little Brands