Second Nature Online
The driving principal that energizes Karen Riddick, founder of Second Nature Online, is the importance of sustainable and ethical living. To that end all her company’s products are chosen for their incorporation of sustainable and recycled materials and the ethical values exercised in the production. Karen says joining GoodWeave® gave her confidence that her products imported from India would reflect her values. “Finding GoodWeave was just brilliant,” she says. “It just suddenly opened all the doors for me.”
Her route from managing a fair trade bed and breakfast on a remote Scottish island while selling occasional sustainable products online to founding a company that retails a considerable range of ecofriendly homewares is not as unlikely as one might think, she says. “The concept of sustainable and ethical living has influenced all of my career choices.” In fact, Karen has a long academic and career history in the field of sustainability and environmental protection. She worked on environmental issues for the UK government for many years. There came however, she says, a point when she simply decided it was time to put some of her cherished principles into practice. While working for the government and running the B and B, Karen began selling recycled, natural and sustainable ethical soft furnishings as a hobby. The hobby grew exponentially and began to take up more and more of her time and space. After many late nights parcelling orders with her firefighter partner, Clayton Robertson, Karen finally decided to make the business official. Second Nature Online was born.
The company’s rag rugs, for which it is already known, are mostly fashioned from scrap fabric from India’s garment industry. Karen points, for example, to one of her favorites, the buoyantly bright and shaggy “Zinda”, an old-fashioned frilled rag rug. “We love the lively feel of these rugs, but we also love the obvious message about the need for society to recycle whenever possible.” Karen says she also enjoys the way the randomness of using recycled fabrics from many different sources plays into the design. One of the most exciting examples of that was getting a batch of rugs that just happened to have streaks of sequins in them. She found that artistic accident so attractive it inspired a new range currently in production. the “Chamak” rug with its vivid colors, bold patterns and flashes of light from the scattered sequins throughout.
The recycled fabric rugs are always fun, she says, but she is equally excited about using natural materials such as jute because of its versatility and sustainability. Undyed jute’s shimmering golden appearance is lovely, she says, but jute also responds well to the dying process so there is freedom to experiment with colors.
It’s clear that Second Nature Online has traveled far from its ‘spare room’ roots. Karen is currently exploring new techniques, expanding the range of recycled textiles she uses and with assistance from GoodWeave, forming new relationships with ethically accredited suppliers. “It is exciting to be part of such an important and influential network. Our decision to join GoodWeave,” she says, “was a great one!”