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Sustainable hot spots in your community: Hackney Wick

Sustainable hot spots in your community: Hackney Wick

 

 

Hackney Bridge

Based along the canal side, Hackney Bridge offers a bright and spacious work area for the people and businesses in the area. Not only is their aim to provide event space, but you can also find a food and drink hall as well as a beautiful outdoor seating. At first glance, the space itself seems rather vacant and industrial; the 5 large silver warehouses with bold primary-coloured windows really stand out on the outskirts of olympic park. This minimalist space, created by Makeshift and designed by Turner Works, is the result of taking the approach that needs the least funds, material, resources and time. I spoke to Edward and Jessica, founders of Get Up Yesterday, a vintage clothing store that calls Hackney Bridge its home. 

 

1. Tell us about yourself. 

We started as an online store mainly on Depop during the first lockdown, then we decided to start a website on Shopify, we thought 'if we're not going to do it now, when are we going to do it?' We also really don’t like working for other people! It’s a struggle, but we’re making it work. Right now we’ve got a lot of American sportswear, a lot of sweatshirts, embroidery, NFL sweatshirts, it’s a good mix. 

 

2. How did Hackney Bridge become your business home? 

We  started our business during the first lockdown. We live in Leytonstone, so we’re close to the area and saw the place (Hackney Bridge). Our friend said we should go for it because it was such a nice area and in mid October we were there for their launch. As a whole it's really good for small, new businesses. All the makers and sellers help each other out. 

 

3. What is your favourite thing about the community? 

I think it’s just everyone helping each other. We are actually working with one of the people upstairs that do natural dying. We're all able to work with and promote each other, you wouldn't be able to do that with a stand alone shop.   

 

4.What changes have you seen in the community since opening? 

We’ve definitely seen it grow and become more popular. 

 

5. Doing a bit of research, I see that you like to push a sustainable narrative, can you talk more about why you choose to do so? 

Myself and my partner have both been vegan for around 9 years. We’re both environmentally friendly but we wanted to do something extra and sustainability is the way forward. I understand why people shop at Primark, there's reasons for that, but if you could just buy the one piece of clothing, it would make a big impact. There’s so many pieces of clothing out there already from the 80s & 90s.

6. What things can businesses do to move towards a more sustainable model? 

Just be more thoughtful about the world around you. It’s great when big companies bring out sustainable lines, but big corporate companies can do greenwash things. It is positive that people are pushing for more sustainability, we’ve only got one world...

 

7. What has been easy/hard about running a sustainable business? 

It’s hard to hustle when it’s raining, so this week has been difficult. It’s hard work but you’ve just got to do it.

 

8. Any 2021 goals for Get Up Yesterday? 

Get our name out there more, more customers. Just be in a position where I don’t need to get another job! 

 

9.What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone who’s just starting their sustainability journey?

Use the connections you have and always be willing to network and meet more people. Everybody wants to help each other when it comes to small businesses. Don’t be afraid to try new things, use as many online selling platforms as you can, get your name out there!

 

Pearl 

Hackney Wick boasts a creative and vibrant environment - stepping out of the overground station, you are bombarded with art and tattoos, and just round the corner from there you can find Pearl, a café that has one rule: ‘Don’t be a dick’. Based in the heart of Hackney, Pearl takes on the baton from Hackney Wick's first café. Renamed Pearl and given a neoteric and bright makeover, it offers a delicious menu with everything freshly made. We stopped by to grab a coffee and talk to Mandi, the manager of Pearl, about the journey of the cafe and their DIY attitude

1. Tell us about yourself. 

So I’m the manager here, I started working at Pearl in 2016. I got made redundant from my office, which I hated anyway, and my art studio got closed down around the same time. I met the owner, Alex, and we struck up a friendship. I started off just floor staffing and then became head barrister. I like to think I helped build it, but he really did all the work. From there we built are ethos, which was looking after each other and the neighbourhood, and I think that really pulled us through. Greeting people with a big smile and asking how they are is really important to us. I manage the place with another girl who used to be a regular, it’s a great team. 

 

2. How did Hackney Wick become your business home? 

Well Alex (the owner) originally wanted to open a hairdressers and he fell in love with this spot, but it didn't have the license for it. He is a people person so he just thought a cafe is kind of the same! It’s a really creative place that pulls in such a diverse group of people, so we stuck around. 

 

3. What is your favourite thing about the community?

I love the diversity of creativity, using Pearl as an example, we always tend to hire creatives not because it’s a requirement, it's just the people that live in the area. From that, so many relationships and projects have formed. The Hackney Wick project is a space opposite the overground with artists studios, a bakery and some of the people that used to work here are really involved in that. 

4. What changes have you seen in the community since opening? 

I think it’s lost its spontaneity, there used to be a festival called Hackney Wicked. During that time people would just be jamming in the streets and you could snoop in people's studios. A lot of people moved out of the area, you couldn't be naughty anymore. I think it’s a bit more wholesome since the new developments. A band called Fear of Fluffin used to hold sessions under the bridge because it’s got great acoustics, but they can’t do it anymore because of complaints. I get it, I live in a flat. It’s just a shame. 

 5. Doing a bit of research, I see that you like to push a sustainable narrative, can you talk more about why you choose to do so? 

You feel like it’s a responsibility as a business and it’s something we strive for. If businesses make better choices it puts more pressure on suppliers to make those changes. 

 

6. What is pearl doing to be more sustainable? 

We make everything fresh and try to be efficient with our waste. The situation with the bins got mental. They were always overflowing and we were aware that Hackney Central don’t do enough to ensure the waste gets recycled properly. We get through a lot of packaging and we want to know that it’s getting broken down responsibly, so we have a company, called First Mile, that does that for us. We have zero waste going to landfill now and all of our general waste is turned into green energy.

 7How did 2020 affect Pearl? 

It's been wild and ongoing to be honest. We obviously had to close down and switch to delivery which meant adapting all of our menus. We had huge expenses after switching to compostable packaging so we're desperate to go back to plates that can just be washed. We lost a huge amount of staff but then instantly found a load at the same time. It’s hard when you switch because you don’t want to lose the vibe but I really love our new team! We had loads of projects that we wanted to do but they’re top secret, but I can say there’s a Pearl product coming soon. 

8. What things can businesses do to move towards a more sustainable model? 

Just think about your everyday processes. I mentioned before that the guys at the underground are using the same bin system as us. There’s so much we could be doing but starting at your bins is great. If you want to be sustainable you’ve got to put pressure on your suppliers. 

9.What has been easy/hard about running a sustainable business? 

The expense that comes with it. Until everyone does it it’s going to be really expensive. 

 

 

 10. Any 2021 goals for Pearl? 

There’s a product into the works, we've got to finish decorating... I’m hoping to get some live music and as a personal goal I want to get karaoke here for my birthday! 

 

11. What are three pieces of advice would you give to someone who’s just starting their sustainability journey?

The journey is quite difficult because you need to be really organised, so just think of ways to be more efficient. Just stick at it, it is really hard and it’s a journey, but there’s always more you can do.

HWK

Hwk is the perfect spot for Hackney Wick locals on the move, it sits right next to the station but it also offers way more than just a quick snack. Hwk Bar, Hwk Coffee and The Lot - an outdoor party hub, all sit under the same name and roof. Hwk can offer you a place to work and rave - what variety! The manager of Hwk coffee gave us an insight on how it began.

1. How did Hackney Wick become your business's home? 

The owners have lived in the area for around 15 years. This property became available and they decided to make it into a cafe which ended up expanding into a bar and the space next door.   

 

2. What is your favourite thing about the community? 

Everyone really knows each other around here which is nice. It makes it feel smaller, it's hard to get that feeling in London. 

 

3. What changes have you seen in the community since opening? 

It’s hard for me to say as I've only been here for a year, but I guess all the new flats. 

 

4. Doing a bit of research, I see that you like to push a sustainable narrative, can you talk more about why you choose to do so? 

I think every business has that responsibility now. There's so much packaging that goes into having a business. If you don't take it upon yourself to help, you can’t really expect anyone else to do the same.

 

5. How did 2020 affect HWK?

A huge decrease in sales... Most of our customers are traveling to and from the station so when the first lockdown happened we saw none of that, it was only really the locals, but everyone was so scared. As we made our way through the various tiers, business picked up. So many offices dont require their employees to come to work, so it’s definitely made a huge impact. 

 

6. What things can businesses do to move towards a more sustainable model? 

There’s a lot to do but the number one is obviously: recycle, it’s the most basic step. 

 

7. What has been easy/hard about running a sustainable business? 

What’s easy about it is everyone is trying to be more sustainable now, you can always find a product that is made in a more sustainable way which is new. I wouldn't say there are too many difficulties, it’s all becoming very easy now which is great. 

 

8. Any 2021 goals for HWK? 

Growing beyond what we are, there’s lots of new builds in an area so need to draw these people in. 

 

9. What are three pieces of advice would you give to someone who’s just starting their sustainability journey?

Explore your options, do your research!