Written by Emily Scott.
During 2020, we saw a business boom as a substantial amount of people had free time to devote to their own projects. Over 350,000 new businesses were developed across the UK, with the majority being within the Online Retail sector. Consumers also had more time to shop around and became more inclined to support independent businesses. We rallied an ‘all in this together’ attitude. In a pandemic world, Softer People flourished from the halls at Leeds University. Along with many others, Malgorzata MacDougall used her newfound free time to develop her passion, art.
Who / what is softer people?
Malgorzata: Softer People is the name of the page I started this year with the intention of spreading good vibes! In the last year, it has grown into a business selling environmentally sound or ethically sourced T-shirts and totes with my designs on them.
What was the brands mission at the start?
Malgorzata: Softer people was never intended to be a brand; it was just an Instagram handle I used to share my art. I started drawing more when we got locked down in halls last year, and then my friends wanted art for their walls, and then commissions. I got myself a printer from Facebook marketplace and started printing stickers that said, ‘slow down feel good’, I stuck them around town, my flat wanted them, and then friends in my accommodation block, and then it just went from there.
Where did the name come from?
Malgorzata: The name came from the idea of everyone being softer and kinder to each other. We live in such a fast-paced desensitised world, being softer to myself and to the people around me has been a huge part of finding peace in the chaos. We need people to be softer and kinder to each other, and we need to learn how to be softer and kinder to ourselves! It’s something that we are not taught, and it is such a shame.
How do you navigate the contradictions of ‘sustainable fashion’?
Malgorzata: Sustainable fashion is difficult to navigate. It is almost impossible to find suppliers that are both environmentally sound and certifiably ethical. I have had to find a balance between the two and do my own research on suppliers, sources, and materials.
Nothing is perfect and as much as I try, I know that by producing climate neutral T-shirts and not encouraging swapping or second hand shopping I am not helping the environment. There are so many contradictions and it’s difficult to find your place, but I’ve managed to find printers and sources I agree with ethically and communicate with to make sure we are on the same page. If something doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it. If a supplier doesn’t quite fit the vibe, they’re gone.
What makes softer people different?
Malgorzata: Softer People wasn’t built with the intention of making money, every time someone wants or buys something it brings me so much joy! I just want to carry on making art in the least destructive way possible, I want to encourage people to slow down and feel good.
What are the brands future plans?
Malgorzata: I’m in no rush to grow, just want to keep making things that people like and feel good. Spreading good vibes and self-care. I’m not sure where it is going but the more people, I can reach the better, and of course try to finish my degree in the process haha!
If you would like to follow Softer People’s journey, check out their Instagram for regular updates.