22, February 2022
Indie Spotlight: Lentils and Lather
Nothing gives us the warm and fuzzies like a local, independent, eco-friendly store. (And we have a hunch that you might feel the same.) So let us introduce you to our brand new Indie Spotlight series. It’s our way of celebrating our wonderful stockists up and down the country – they really make our world go round.
First up, meet Lentils and Lather, a fellow Manchester business that’s been championing sustainability since they started their soapy ‘milk round’ in 2012, helping the local community refill and reuse their empty soap, shampoo and shower gel bottles. Fast forward to today and owners Carl and Paulina now have two bustling brick and mortar locations: Withington and Marple, both built on the same eco-friendly foundations, with a focus on providing sustainable, plastic-free and zero-waste alternatives for their loyal customer base. Lentils and Lather have been stocking our vegan, cruelty-free products since their doors opened in 2019, and we love how they encourage and inspire a slower, more conscious way of consuming.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. How did you get started, and what are the values behind Lentils and Lather?
We've always tried to manage our impact on the planet, things like buying in bulk to reduce the amount of waste that we produce, selecting renewable energy and driving to Europe rather than flying, however, over the past few years the need to do more has become much more apparent. It feels like the need to do more is more important than it ever was. We noticed the zero-waste movement spreading around the country, from progressive areas such as Bristol, and quickly realised that there was a gap in the market as there were no opportunities in the area that we live. This all coincided with us looking for a change in direction with our careers and we just threw ourselves into opening Lentils and Lather in Withington, South Manchester. This was just over two years ago, but we’ve grown quickly and now have a second shop in Marple, Stockport too which will help us widen our impact on the planet.
We think our strapline easily describes what we aim to achieve with Lentils and Lather: sustainable shopping, less plastic, better world! Firstly, we aim to provide sustainable alternatives to mainstream supermarkets. Organic, vegan, naturally derived and locally sourced feature high on our list of priorities across our whole range of food, personal care and household products. We also aim to help people reduce their plastic waste. We do this by offering refills across a significant proportion of our range, stocking products from like minded companies, such as Faith In Nature, and helping our customers reuse the bottles and containers they already have. Finally, we want our business to do good things, such as supporting local charities and food banks, promoting other businesses that are aligned to our ethics, and planting trees across Greater Manchester. We’re always on the lookout for new things to get involved with.
Carl from Lentils and Lather with Emily from Lobster House Studios who painted the Faith In Nature window display
What do you think attracts your customers to Lentils and Lather?
Recently, the prominence of the climate emergency is impossible to ignore. It’s no longer a theory, it’s happening in front of our eyes and people from all walks of life are realising that the time to act is now. But how can they do this? That’s where shops like ours come in. We put a lot of effort into ensuring our products are sustainable and ethical, making it easier to switch to something that’s better for our planet. Our customer base is wide-ranging, from students and young professionals who are very switched onto environmental issues and veganism, to some of the older members of our community that remember days gone by where “weigh and save” was the norm, and pointless plastic packaging didn’t feature at all. Aside from our environmental credentials, we have a secret weapon, something that bigger supermarket chains will never be able to recreate – us! We certainly get the feeling that part of the attraction to our shops is that customers can speak directly with the owners; a friendly conversation or a request to stock a particular product is part of the charm.
Why did you choose to stock Faith In Nature refills?
Our default stance is to work with other like minded local businesses. Faith In Nature’s eco credentials speak for themselves: ethical, vegan, naturally-derived and cruelty-free. All words we love to hear! Better still, FIN HQ in Radcliffe is around 30 minutes from our home in South Manchester, which means that not only are we supporting the local economy, but our carbon footprint associated with reusing or recycling empty containers is quite small too. We’ve recently bought a bike trailer for moving things between our shops, so we hope to start using it to return our empties to Faith In Nature.
Stocking a brand that’s been around for such a long time and is instantly recognisable across a wide range of ages is a great asset to our shops. So much so, that our Faith In Nature refill products are strategically placed to be as visible and appealing as possible!
Which Faith In Nature refill products are most popular with your customers?
I think the coconut refills are the most popular, both for shampoo and conditioner, although we’ve recently started stocking the fragrance free range – soap bars and body wash, which has been a hit so far. Personally, we like the grapefruit and orange scents and use it in our bathroom all the time.
How do you currently display your refill bottles?
We have our Faith In Nature refill products just in front of our till. We think it looks great and it’s also handy to quickly clean the inevitable spills!
There's a lot to feel glum about right now. What gives you hope, and what change do you want to see in 2022?
In the last year there has been a massive change in how people feel about the climate crisis. It seems that more and more people, as well as businesses and organisations, have started taking things seriously, and this gives us hope. A lot of communities got together during and after the lockdowns, trying to support those in need, this also gives us hope – we are slowly getting on the right path. In 2022 we want to see everyone making small changes for the better.
Follow Lentils and Lather on Instagram and remember to #shopsmall and refill your Faith In Nature favourites at one of their stores.