Goldfinger crafts beautiful, sustainable furniture and objects for homes and businesses that have a positive impact on the community and the planet.
We sat down with Co-founder and CEO, Marie Cudennec Carlisle, to talk about the challenges of everyday sustainable living and running a sustainable business amidst Covid.
What inspired you to start the business and how has the company evolved over the years?
I'm half French and half Chinese. I was born in Singapore, grew up in Paris, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Miami, studied in Nottingham and Beijing before landing in London. It was a lot of urban living which ironically gave me a deep appreciation and longing for to be in nature. Since my earliest years, I've always had a deep love of beauty. I grew up in Hong Kong, a city that is highly polluted and where the problem of waste is in your face. I remember a moment when I was 8 years old and seeing a fridge floating in the ocean and thinking "something's not right here" and it was so obvious that we humans were causing damage to our beautiful planet. Those two passions of mine came together in my twenties. When I first moved to London, I was working in the luxury fashion and beauty industry, and came to realise that beauty without sustainability felt pointless and somehow diminished its beauty for me. And so in 2013, I saw an opportunity to create a social enterprise that would bring together beauty and sustainability, while creating social impact in one of the poorest communities in London. The intersection of luxury and social enterprise is what really excites me.
Over the years, our company has evolved from a grassroots community project with a big vision into an award-winning social enterprise that crafts beautiful furniture and objects from reclaimed and sustainable materials, benefitting people and planet. Through the Goldfinger Academy, we teach marginalised young people the craft of woodworking, so they can progress into meaningful work. The Academy also offers community craft courses, workshops and corporate away-days that enhance wellbeing and celebrate the joys of making. We also support our local community through People’s Kitchen: To Your Door, delivering hot meals and doorstep chats to vulnerable and isolated North Kensington residents.
What is the toughest aspect of running your business today?
Sustaining hope. I see my role as CEO right now as one of fighting for a world where sustainable businesses become the norm, and focusing the energy of my team to make our organisation stronger through these challenging times brought by the pandemic.
What does sustainable living mean to you? Have your habits changed over time?
Sustainable living is all the choices and decisions we make in how we live our life. This often starts with the food on our plates and it is certainly how it started for me. But you quickly realise that the way you live your entire life has an impact on the planet and those around you. The power we have as consumers is enormous, and I truly believe that with every pound you spend, you are voting for what kind of world you want to live in.
Every purchasing decision you make has an impact on the planet, so you can start by buying locally, choose to only support businesses that share your values (such as Rêve Ultime!), learn how to make things yourself etc... For me, it all started with eating organic, locally sourced food and eating with the seasons, which is not just good for you but also good for the planet. But then it extended to every purchasing decision in the home: our furniture, our bedsheets, our beauty products, our cleaning products... I surround myself with natural materials: solid wood furniture, linen and cotton bedding. By applying this filter on everything that enters your home, you in turn support companies who are mindful of the environment by using materials that are easily recyclable, compostable or reusable. And these are also better for your health. What I find fascinating in this quest for living sustainably is almost always what's best for the planet also promotes your own well-being, so it's a win win!
From how you travel to how you invest your money, sustainable living is a holistic approach to living as best you can in harmony with the planet and by trying to create positive impact with every action in your life.
What is your ultimate dream?
My ultimate dream is a world where sustainable living is the new norm- where all human beings have understood that the planet's wellbeing is inextricably intertwined with their own wellbeing. A world where all people are demanding furniture made from natural materials such as solid timbers from local trees for their homes and businesses. A world where we all live in harmony with the planet that we call home and there is plenty of everything to go around.
Sunlight Play Sweater by Tawast