Be For Change


Exhibiting at top Drawer and winning the Spotted Award

Upcycled Leather Goods, Sustainable FutureAna CarneiroComment

How does one get into a Trade Show?

Starting this little business by myself and trying to do things right by the world hasn’t been the easiest journey. In fact, I can’t think of anything which ever brought me more frustration and headaches… on rainy days (like today!), when more things go wrong than right, I might even question if any of it is worth it. Are my designs good enough? Do people outside of my online bubble support sustainable business? Are there any shops out there willing to do business differently? Questions like these and more pop into mind, and the doubts aren’t always easy to shake.

So when I was contacted by the curator of Spotted at Top Drawer in June to take part in the fair, I was both surprised and flattered,

Top Drawer London is a bi-annual fair taking place in Olympia. Its maxim is to be ‘out of ordinary’ by showcasing a range of new and established brands across Home, Gifts, Fashion and Crafts. - all with design-led products. Spotted at Top Drawer is a section of brands exhibiting at a Trade Show for the first time, curated by Charlotte Abraham, from which a winner is selected.

My main consideration when deciding whether to go for it was the cost. Though this is meant to be a discounted stall, at £1495 (including VAT and insurance) it is a far cry from affordable. Add to that all the costs related to the production of goods to exhibit, printed materials and business cards, transport and set up costs… and let’s just say I didn’t have it in mind to spend that kind of money on marketing this year. But it did feel like a great opportunity, so I picked up a few extra shifts at my part-time job and committed to it. From the day I made the first payment, I had just over 2 months till the fair - included in which was my first trip to Portugal of the year to see my family, Of course that in one’s mind 2 months is plenty of time! In reality it went by in the blink of an eye…

I will admit here for the first time that in the weeks prior to exhibiting I had my fair share of moments of crippling doubt. Sure, it had been great to be contacted to take part in the fair, but wasn’t that all about the fair making money anyway? I’ve been in business for a while, but I changed my focus (product-wise) a few times, lost my fair amount of loyal customers in the process, and I am still working part-time to make ends meet. Was a fair the best way to spend my money? The only thing that kept me going was the thought that ‘if you never try, you’ll never know!’

Now that you know what my state of mind was, you can probably understand what I mean when I say that being shortlisted as part of the Spotted Award was a huge relief. Furthermore, I may or may not have shed a couple of tears when I found out that I won the award! Firstly because it confirmed that I hadn’t gone barking mad by investing so much of myself into this new collection, and secondly because it meant getting something in return for the huge investment I made signing up to this fair.

Winning the award provided me with a much needed confidence boost ahead of the fair, along with the validation that comes from being recognised by people and institutions that one admires.

Sam Hood—Founder of Amara said, “Both the idea and the end product are strong. Turning an unwanted raw material into a viable product is a great idea commercially and environmentally.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Emily Cuthbert—Head of Product at Wolf & Badger said, “The products are well-considered and using surplus fabrics to make creative accessories is a brilliant concept. Be for Change is a brand built on values and their focus on minimising waste is commendable.”

Setting up for my first trade show

Saturday was set up day. Being a Londoner as I am, I cycle around town and don’t own a car. I thought my display out in advance and decided to keep furnishings to a minimum (not just to facilitate getting things there, but also because I work from home and I have very limited space to store business-related equipment.) 1 suitcase worth of products, 1 suitcase with wall paint and assorted tools, plus an IKEA bag with plants and leather waste - that is all I took. I luckily got one of my friends to drive me to the fair, which made for a painless drop-off and unloading (do prepare all related paperwork in advance and look in the venue map for which loading bay to head to).

I proceeded to set up on my own, which took about 4 hours including the time to paint the wall and waiting for it to dry. I thought that writing with chalk on the wall would communicate the crafty element of my business, but quickly realised that it was simply not neat enough and looked a bit unprofessional. Oh well! Live and learn. There was nothing to be done about it at that point.

Having used a rack and plants I already owned and then nothing but my own products as decoration, I was definitely one of the people who spent the least money on their stand.. A number of the makers and designers in the Spotted section bought tables, shelves and display units on purpose for the fair, in addition to custom wall stickers, etc. I later found out that a number of the other exhibitors had been getting ready for the fair for over 6 months, which made me feel a lot better about how differently we had budgeted and prepared for this!

Exhibiting as a one woman band

I came to the fair prepared with everything I thought I might need: reusable cup, a filled water bottle, lunch and a few snacks. The business cards and price list I had left hidden in my stand over night, along with an order pad.

On Sunday the doors opened for the first day of business, and much to my thrill I got an order shortly after! Around midday the delivery of the prize ensued, giving me the opportunity to meet a few of the judges who were in attendance. Everything felt brilliant! I was alone at my stand but got to meet “my neighbours” and their work whenever things were slow. At this point I was getting a fair amount of interest in my products, but no more orders as my prices turned out to be too high for the buyers in attendance. Still, this felt okay as we had been told in advance that on Sunday a lot of general public and independent shops would be present. The day ended with Exhibitors’ Drinks, which was not only a great way to unwind a little but also to meet other people and their work.


Monday was said to be the day in which most buyers and press attended, and I showed up coffee in hand and feeling ready for business (I made the mistake of buying coffee within the fair the previous day - far too expensive for the quality). Within the first few hours it was visible that this was a less busy day, yet quality over quantity is what we all really looked for. Unfortunately, throughout the second day I continued to get the same feedback: products were too expensive for the buyers who stopped by. A few people spoke with me at length and took my details, but none of these contacts resulted in business.

The third and last day brought me more of the same, but with even less visitors. I must confess that at a certain point I became a tad disappointed, especially as I continuously saw that buyer’s interests gravitated toward printed PVC products (just happens to be one of the most toxic, non-recyclable materials man ever came up… no big deal for some people, my head on the other hand was about to explode! It’s 2019 people! How do you do not care what material your products are made of?!!! Profit over planet is alive and well - including in small business in the UK) or goods made from not-that-bad materials but manufactured in China and then shipped over.

At the end of the day, my boyfriend (who had just got back in town) came by to help break down and paint the wall back to white. The painting at the end did add a bit more fuss to it than what other people had to deal with, but, as always, I was happy to get on with it instead of spending extra money getting it done. At the end of the day, we loaded everything into an Uber and made our way back home - thus ending my experience of Top Drawer AW19.

Spotted at Top Drawer first prize

While winning has been really exciting, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t all about the prize.

The prize for the Autumn Winter 2019 edition comprises a free stand for the next edition of Top Drawer, as well as one-hour mentorship sessions with Patricia Van Den Akker, Founder of The Design Trust; Rosey Blackmore, Merchandise Director for Tate Enterprises; Madeleine Furness, Business Development Office at Cockpit Arts; Laura Jane Boast, Founder of Design Giving; Ella Doran, Founder of Ella Doran Design Ltd; Victoria Suffield, Founder of The Hambledon.

It has now been a month since Top Drawer, giving me enough time to settle back into a routine and meet with a few of my mentors. Each of my sessions so far have been precious lessons in not only what it takes to succeed, but how to wear different hats and do it well! A number of the ladies gracing me with their time and knowledge have gone above and beyond to provide value, from discussing my business in-depth in preparation to our session, to sending me further information in the aftermath of our mentorship session and making themselves available to help with anything else that may come up in the coming months.

It was really these sessions that made my financial investment worth it so far, and if I hadn’t won the award I wouldn’t be going back to Top Drawer anytime soon.

As I do have a free stand waiting for me, I look forward to going back to Olympia as an exhibitor in January, with the expectation that having a stand in the more relevant section of the fair will help me reach the right buyers and grow my business. In advance for the fair, I am developing a couple of new products which are less costly to produce - and therefore less expensive to retail.

More blog posts to come on the run up to the fair in the coming months!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that it proves helpful to anyone considering exhibiting at a trade show!

Do let me know if you have any questions, as I would be more than happy to help as I can


Ana xx

Protecting the Amazon Forest

Sustainable FutureAna CarneiroComment
Amazon Forest on fire

In light of the horrible fires setting the Amazon forest ablaze I have decided to donate all our profits until the end of August to The Rainforest Trust.

Those of you who have been following for a while will know that I have set up Be For Change because I deeply care about the state of our planet and to explore different models of production and consumption that don’t deplete our planet of valuable resources. Seeing the largest rainforest of our planet go up in flames as a result of human greed breaks my heart in more ways than I knew it could.

The Amazon basin is home to 30 million species of plants and wildlife, and many of these are currently at risk. It is also home to thousands of Indigenous peoples who act as stewards to their land, keeping it clean and caring for it without abusing it. And last but definitely not least, it is one of the largest carbon sinks in the planet - as the fires spread they release megatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each day.

Being someone who doesn’t eat meat and lives an overall low-impact lifestyle, once I had donated some money myself I couldn’t shake the worry of ‘WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?’

I concluded that while I cannot personally afford to donate more, I can create an incentive for others to do so: for any of my products you buy until the end of August, all profits will be donated to The Rainforest Alliance.

Why the Rainforest Alliance?

The Rainforest Alliance are a trusted organization that aim to make responsible business the new normal - which is a message very close to my heart. They write:
The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organization working at the intersection of business, agriculture, and forests to make responsible business the new normal. We are an alliance of companies, farmers, foresters, communities, and consumers committed to creating a world where people and nature thrive in harmony.”

In response to the horrific surge of forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon, they are mobilizing their broad network of partners to fight the ongoing destruction of this precious ecosystem. Following a staggering increase in fires this year, with flames and smoke captured on both NASA and NOAA satellites from space, it's clear the world must stand together to stop ongoing threats to the Amazon, which is vital to the world’s climate stability. And that is just what I am looking to do - stand together with them and the many Brazilian organizations working to protect the Amazon Basin.

The Rainforest Alliance have “pledged to redirect 100% of the funds donated in August via Instagram to frontline groups in the Brazilian Amazon, including the Brazil chapter of our Indigenous federation partner COICA and our longtime sustainable agriculture partner IMAFLORA (the other groups are the Instituto Socioambiental, Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM), Saúde e Alegria, and Imazon, Brazilian NGOs working to defend the Amazon and advance Indigenous rights).”

How much is donated?

The profits on the products I have designed and make vary, as the cheapest product on our website costs only £6 and the most expensive £75 - so instead of boring you with percentages and margins, I will simply be updating each product description to reflect how much money will be donated when you buy that item.

What other things can I do to help preserve the Amazon Forest?

There are a variety of things you can do to help, and I would say that avoiding paper of unknown sources, avoiding meat in general (but especially beef) and avoiding palm oil are the biggest ways to have an impact.
But here are a few others:

  1. Reduce your beef intake. Beef found in processed products and fast-food burgers is often linked to deforestation.

  2. Reduce your paper and wood consumption. Double-check with Rainforest Alliance that what you're buying is considered rainforest-safe. You can also purchase rainforest-safe products from the alliance's site.

  3. The World Wide Fund for Nature (known as the World Wildlife Fund in the US and Canada) works to protect the species in the Amazon and around the world.

  4. Use, a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches you run.

  5. Explore petitions. Gabriel, a lawyer in Rio Branco, Brazil, has accumulated over 3 million signatures to mobilize an investigation into the Amazonian fires.

  6. Donate to Amazon Watch, an organization that protects the rainforest, defends Indigenous rights and works to address climate change.

I hope this helps and do let me know if you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!

Ana xx

PS: £78 we’re donated to the Rainforest Alliance thanks to your orders! Thank you for creating a positive impact with us!

Live mindful and lessen your impact

Sustainable Future, War on WasteAna CarneiroComment

I've written it a few times in this blog and on the Be For Change website, but don't mind if I repeat it:

Being a mindful individual isn't just about practicing meditation, it's about being a well-informed, aware citizen that takes on a mindful attitude towards their life choices, big and small.

Before starting off the post its worth watching this short documentary from Vox media that explores why we might find it challenging to live and consume mindfully and the implications of such lifestyle. 

Ultimately, this short video argues that we do need the government to pass policies, however these policies aren’t successful without public support. It is through the individual change of consumption and the increase in public awareness that a cultural change occurs, one which acts as a bottom up support for large scale transformations. 

Going green does not need to be a sacrifice, either for us as individuals or for businesses, governments and the economy.

So in this post we are going to discuss how we provide and take part of this bottom up support.

We need to make big changes, and we need to make them happen as soon as possible

The previous blog post discussed the adverse effects of climate change and how much there is already at stake, revealing the urgency of taking action.

While irreversible damage has already been done, we are on time to mitigate the damages. To do this we need to become aware of just how close to home the effects of climate change are - no country or region will ever be the same again. This is where the extreme weather events of this summer can hopefully serve to make people realize the severity of the issue.

It is not only up to our governments and sovereign nations to implement better measures and change how business is done. as the video above shows it's also up to us! We definitely have a significant role to play.

There's no time for us to maintain our current consumption habits and keep living in a linear economy based on extraction, production, use and then waste. Our lifestyle choices are a great place to start.

It is vital that we move away from linear consumption and towards a circular economy, in which there is minimum need for virgin materials and products don’t have built in obsolence. In which outputs eventually become inputs too and businesses adopt production strategies such as upcycling (as Be For Change does). 

simple solutions for a complex problem...

Let's start with the big decisions: the top 3 things one can do to reduce their impact on the planet are to have one less child, to adopt a plant-based diet and to reduce one's use of any and all fossil-fueled methods of transportation (especially cars and airplanes). You might be thinking 'how's that simple?!' but the complicated part is the thinking of it - we'd argue that Not having another child, Not eating meat and Not traveling far away multiple times a year are simpler life choices than having another child, or buying and cooking meat, or planning a transatlantic trip. I call these The Big 3, because despite how clear the research is on these subjects they are highly controversial and emotional topics for many people.

'The Climate Mitigation Gap' study by Wynes and Nicholas assesses the CO2 emissions of different life-decisions and resulted in the following graphic:

Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 23.15.11.png

Please note that this graphic focuses on CO2 emissions and doesn't take into consideration the other benefits of adopting a plant-based diet (such as not contributing to deforestation and the release of methane by livestock, which firmly place it among The Big 3).

So plastic straws or a better kind of single-use coffee cup won't save the world, however they do jump-start a conversation and made many people rethink their use of other plastics. So change your focus, change your consumption habits and shop less. But when you do shop, invest in sustainable and long-lasting products (such as our Bags!).

When one starts their journey into mindful living and consumption it is crucial to be patient and setting realistic targets. 

Once you take the first steps such as carrying your own coffee mug, refusing plastic bags, checking where and in what way you’re clothes were made, these small actions will help you break the cycle. 

A great and impacting first step is to try to reduce your consumption of plastics - start with single-use and then keep going... A great resource is the Guide to Go Plastic Free by Our Good Brands ( This comprehensive guide is completely free (you just need to fill out your email) and has some great tips! 

If you are in London and want to start shopping 'zero waste', do take a look at the BFC London tabs, or simply find the shops near you in this map:

The journey of mindful consumption is a difficult one a great way to look for tips as well as share your experience/ difficulties is joining some of the Facebook groups We have made one ourselves and if t you would like to share your thoughts check it out!

We also have an event on adopting a Low Waste Lifestyle this Saturday in London, so do come and meet us and ask your questions to our experts in person ;)

Be For Change & EcoACTIVE: let's educate for sustainable living!

Sustainable Future, Bag For Changelidia callejoComment

As a business committed to making the world a more sustainable place, it has always been our aim to partner with other organizations to extend the reach of what we can do. We are finally taking action in a direction which has long been on our minds: we're committing to donate a part of our profits to a charity that shares our mission and values! That charity is the London-based EcoACTIVE!

Be For Change goals for 2018

OneAware Magazine, Bag For ChangeAna CarneiroComment

I've always found it helpful, fun even, to use certain calendar milestones to look at my life, ask myself questions and renew my intentions before committing to a number of things that make my day-to-day life. You may call it goal-setting. I do it around three time a year: around my birthday in April; mid-September when a new school year used to start; and, you've guessed it, around New Year's Eve. Most years, my New Year's goal-setting is only completed in January - and this year is no exception. I find it hard to take the necessary time in between Christmas and the 31st of December, and to be completely honest and raw with myself as I look at my progress and question my direction I do need a large window of time spent by myself and without interruptions.

There's been a lot of talk this year around the usefulness of New Year's resolutions. To be honest, I find that resolutions are helpful any time of the year, but I always enjoy doing it around 'the start of the year' simply because there's something nice about reading, reflecting and writing while it's cold outside and I'm wrapped up in a knit with a hot cup of tea nearby. Plus, imagining how life will change once my goals have been implemented helps me fight the winter blues and gives me the soaring motivation I need to get out of bed early in the morning, when it's dark outside and the house is freezing cold.

This year, in addition to my personal goals, I've decided to set some Be For Change goals as well - or rather, I decided to separate the two. Now that this company is properly set-up and running, it feels like the right move. As to why I'm sharing them with you, I'm hoping to get your opinions on these goals: which are most relevant to you? is there anything else you'd like to see on this list? do you have tips on how to make any of these become a reality? Let me know in the comments :)


So, here are the my 2018 goals for Be For Change (in no particular order)

  • To really get One Aware magazine off the ground - last year I set myself the goal of creating this magazine, and now that it has been started it's time to fulfill my vision of how One Aware is meant to be. I want to make it as great as I know it can be, as well as make it more widely known and available.
  • To become closer to the community that has started gathering around this small company - even at such an early stage, there are some of you who consistently like BFC's posts, take the time to reply to my Stories, and introduce my work to others!!! This has been an incredible thing to witness and I know that I've been really fortunate to have your attention (I never had a social media strategy and I wasn't consistently adding value through any platform). Now I'm determined to get to know you better and add value more consistently - which I'm sure will be a work in progress! So if you have suggestions of topics you'd like to see me approach or themes you'd like One Aware to focus on next, don't be shy and let me know! Let's all grow together!
  • To sell all of the Bags For Change currently in stock - there are a few new bags coming out, and once those are out I'm not producing any more unless they sell out. To be honest, despite the amazing reviews everyone gives the bags, they've been a tough sell. So I'm going to give the bags one last push in the next 5 months - and if sales don't pick up and everything gets sold, I'll have to cut my losses and stop stalling money on these bags. This was a tough call for me, and one that I should probably have made last year.
  • To launch two new products - this is where I'm getting a bit ambitious... but it's basically the challenge that keeps me going when the going gets tough. I've got a few options in the pipeline, products I've started working on and didn't see through (partially because I determined One Aware to be the priority). I would love it if I could work some magic with the numbers and launch two of these products this year!
  • My last, and perhaps most ambitious goal, is to have a small team working with me by the end of the year - The last couple of months I was stretched thin, working on the magazine, marketing the magazine, collaborating with a client on their project and doing some freelance work here and there for some cash in my pocket. I'll be completely honest: I'm not very good with numbers, but hiring two people doesn't look very achievable right now. On the other hand, I know that if I had a couple of other committed people working with me we'd be able to get more done and move faster - which would allow BFC to grow, to work on more client projects each year and with a quicker turnaround, and to deliver more to its growing audience.

That's it! My list of goals, some of them set high up, waiting for the taking... I reckon I can get there with your help :P

Now I'll enjoy the rest of my Sunday, and get back to work tomorrow to make this happen :D Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this!

Ana xx