Evan Lewis, founder of VENT for Change, is shaking up the industry with the Top Drawer launch of his design-led ethically produced pencils and pocket notebooks.
Describing himself as a social and environmental entrepreneur, Lewis is passionate about the role his company can play, along with a growing number of conscientious brands, in offering consumers beautifully designed products as an ethical purchasing option.
The range includes UK-made pencils produced in-house from recycled CD cases, and pocket books made using reclaimed coffee cup fibres.
Lewis says about the latest range: “Having strong eco credentials no longer means a dull and worthy finished article. The hand-painted designs and subtle use of foil in our new Ideas Collection produces a stylish clean end result, which will surely be of interest to retailers and their customers.”
The ‘social’ aspect of Lewis’s entrepreneurial project is reflected in his commitment to supporting children’s education projects globally. In fact, this is what kick-started the VENT for Change stationery range. In 2014 Lewis bought a run-down facility producing pencils from recycled CD cases. Eighteen months later, he was producing an additional one million pencils per year. He commented: “Pencils are the most iconic educational tool going back centuries and I wanted to do something with them, something inspirational.”
Lewis spoke to NGOs and local, national and international charities about how he could support projects rebuilding schools in communities hit by devastating natural disasters, pay for teachers and provide essential materials. His solution was to sell his one million extra pencils here in the UK, and use the proceeds to support existing education projects around the world.
VENT also organises a nationwide Global Education Day called Share a Pencil Day. In May 2018 more than 80,000 UK schoolchildren signed up to take part. Everyone learned about the importance of education and how millions worldwide are missing out.
VENT also runs an Ambassadors for Change programme. Volunteers leaving the UK to work overseas are given FREE pencils to hand out in schools or directly to children they meet.