How to Change the World with Pencil and Paper
This week, we welcome VENT for Change founder, Evan Lewis, to our Notebook Love Blog.
The Power of the Pencil
They say the pen(cil) is mightier than the sword, but VENT for Change takes that saying one step further. From its pencils made from recycled CD cases to its pocket books made using reclaimed coffee cup fibres and journals from recycled leather, every item has a strong environmental message of its own.
And not only does VENT for change empower writers and notebook lovers with satisfying, sustainable stationery, they also support children's education projects with every item sold. And it all started with a simple pencil.
We caught up with VENT for Change founder, Evan Lewis, VENT to get to know his award-winning initiative better.
Who are the significant people who make up VENT for Change?
We are a small team so everyone is hugely significant. We all get stuck in and get our hands dirty. One day someone will be doing the pick and pack, the next day attending a trade show, designing new ranges and then driving a fork lift. Let's just say it's varied and never dull but there is definitely nobody that's insignificant .
Where did the idea for VENT for Change come from?
We bought an old machine in 2014 to make pencils from recycled CD cases. Within 18 months we were making more pencils than we could sell.
As a pencil is the most iconic educational tool going back centuries, we decided to give them away to help children get the education they deserve. In time that evolved to a point where proceeds from selling pencils could be given to existing education projects. Notebooks and journals list pads and pens all followed and as they say, the rest is history.
It was time to rock the boat… We are setting an example to other companies and organisations to do the right thing… People love our products but tend to thank us for our social philosophy.Read all articles
Where did the name of your company come from?
The dictionary definition of VENT is to express yourself forcefully. At VENT, we protect the planet and support education for children and wanted people to understand how strongly we felt, encourage them to get involved and make a difference. Change is needed to help the planet and to help those unable to access the education they deserve. To VENT for Change has a campaigning feel about it, unheard of in stationery retailing. It was time to rock the boat.
What sort of products do you sell?
Sustainable stationery with style. A range of beautiful notebooks, journals, pens & pencils made from recycled and sustainable materials. From recycled leather and uncoated board to sustainably sourced papers and of course old CD cases.
What is your HQ like (some sellers work at a kitchen table, others have a studio, factory or office)?
The main office doubles as a pick and pack warehouse and storage. Since the start of the pandemic of course it has become more of a drop in centre so we can still get some social (though distanced) interaction. Hopefully before too long it'll return to a vibrant space where we laugh and joke, create and inspire once again.
What is your most popular product and why do you think that is?
The Make a Mark A5 recycled leather notebooks with sustainable paper outsell all other items. In 8 different colours from classic Charcoal black and Navy to Burnt Orange and Mustard Yellow, there is a colour for everyone. The covers made from recycled leather are intriguing and have a wonderfully smooth, tactile finish. With an elastic book closure and stylish ivory coloured feint lined paper they are a must have with style and soul.
Can you tell us more about the differences you make through your products?
From a holistic perspective we are setting an example to other companies and organisations to do the right thing. We are offering customers an environmental and ethical alternative.
On a practical level, we are using recycled and sustainable materials to better serve the planet. And with every item sold we are supporting children's education projects worldwide.
What is your own favourite VENT for Change product/design and why?
Personally, I love the Write A5. Raw and unashamedly recycled with uncoated grey board covers and stunning sustainable paper quality. It's a no-fuss item, a notebook that does what it says on the tin. Nothing fancy but functional and stylish. You can choose between dots, lines or plain as well. After a little use it starts to show every scrape and mark giving it a lived-in feel.
A hotly debated topic: What is your preference when it comes to pages: ruled, square, dotted or plain?
Personally, I love dots but not throughout the whole book. I love narrow feint lines too. And on the right paper, I love a clean plain smooth page. As we can't really make up our minds, our new slim journals actually have a mix of plain and lined in each book.
We love our Notebook Love community. Why do you think there are so many stationery/notebook lovers out there? And what's so special about stationery, in your opinion?
A good notebook accompanies you as you travel through life, it reminds you of things you've forgotten and records events as they happen. To flick back through a book, looking for a note or a number reminds you of the journey you've been on. Putting something down on paper with a scribble and a doodle, underlined and overwritten in your own handwriting is more personal than a note in a phone in some anonymous font.
What's the best customer feedback you've received?
We get wonderful feedback about what we stand for.
People love our products but tend to thank us for our social philosophy. I like those that say they've been bought one of our items by a son, daughter, mum or dad and in turn are buying again for themselves or as a present.