October 26th, 2021
If you are a writer, you’ll know a lovely piece of stationery has the power to inspire and influence your best work. It’s a little bit of sunshine on your desk, a cheerful vehicle for the to-do list and makes the jotting of everyday notes special.
And if your stationery brand of choice is a responsible company that uses its platform to make the world a better place? Even better.
Ohh Deer is a brand that consistently supports marginalised communities at home and around the world. From championing independent illustrators to supporting an array of good causes, Ohh Deer is a shining example of life imitating art.
Founded in 2011 by Jamie Mitchell and Mark Callaby, Ohh Deer evolved from a blog into a shop, selling stationery designed in collaboration with 10 artists. Now, they work with a 100-strong creative team and sell stationery and gifts all over the world. Ohh Deer has also launched several subscription-based sub-brands – Papergang, Artful, Barry’s Cactus Club Jewel & The Gang and Put A Sock In It.
One of the most notable ways the company gives back is through its unwavering support of the LGBTQIA community. The founders, Jamie and Mark, are a gay couple and lead by example of making sure they champion diversity within the company. They’re passionate about helping to offer the support they didn’t have access to growing up.
Mark has discussed at length on the Ohh Deer blog the bullying he experienced and struggles with identity he faced as a gay teenager in the 80s and 90s. It inspired him to implement policies that ensure Ohh Deer staff are supported in an inclusive environment and hiring managers are trained in avoiding unconscious bias.
He goes on to discuss how Pride is not just a rainbow logo, you’ve got to back it up with support policies and ideally, donations. If a brand doesn’t demonstrate support in real life, it’s a meaningless gesture or worse, performative allyship. Ohh Deer is a truly great example of a company that supports marginalised communities all year round, not just in June.
Mark says “At the very core of Ohh Deer is a progressive community that spreads positivity and lifts each other up. Our aim is to pave the way for an inclusive, environmentally-conscious world through our wonderful cards, designs and products.
One of the best bits of co-founding a company is being able to choose the amazing charities we support! I also sit on the council for Greeting Card Association, where I successfully introduced a diversity and inclusion policy and other initiatives for diversity. All of this feeds into being a conscientious brand – we’re so proud of what we do at Ohh Deer.”
One of the charities that Ohh Deer donates to is Switchboard LGBT, which runs a helpline for those struggling with their sexuality and identity. The switchboard ensures help is accessible to those who don’t know who to turn to, as struggling with sexuality and identity takes a toll on mental health.
Other causes the brand has supported include the Marine Conservation Society, Arthouse Unlimited and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. August’s Papergang box is designed in collaboration with Kidscape, a charity whose mission is for all children to grow up in communities safe from bullying and harm. Meanwhile, every Artful box is partnered with Create, the UK’s leading charity that empowers lives through the creative arts.
As Ohh Deer is primarily a stationery brand, a lot of trees are required to produce their delightful notebooks, pads and greeting cards. Luckily, Ohh Deer have taken a set of steps to ensure their business is as environmentally sustainable as possible.
All of Ohh Deer’s paper and cardboard is carefully sourced from sustainably run forests or wherever possible, recycled materials. They’ve got a plastic-free packaging pledge – in practice that means removing all unnecessary plastic covers and replacing them with bio-cello alternatives.
Their cards are plastic-free and contain less than 30% foil. That’s an important figure because it means they can be recycled at the kerbside.
Meanwhile, their recyclable packaging is padded with shredded cardboard boxes to protect the contents. Products that need a little extra TLC are wrapped in compostable material that disintegrates within six months.
Papergang is Ohh Deer’s popular stationery subscription. Customers sign up to receive a box of stationery, beautifully designed in a different theme each month by indie illustrators.
To minimise their impact on the environment, Papergang is partnered with Tree Aid. For every four Papergang boxes Ohh Deer make, one tree is planted. So far, this has reached an impressive total of 33,000 – now that’s a lot of trees!
Tree Aid provides food and generates income for families living in the drylands of Africa. Ohh Deer publish quarterly updates on their blog, sharing stories about shea butter co-operatives in Ghana and nutrition gardens in Burkina Faso.
The personal anecdotes from individuals benefitting from the Tree Aid partnership help Papergang customers see the ways that they’re helping people by shopping consciously.
Ohh Deer has a strong brand identity with inclusivity at its core. Customers know that by supporting them, they’re supporting a whole host of fantastic organisations that make a difference every single day. They’re helping to make the world a better place, one quirky greeting card at a time.
Written by Misha Zala, Freelance Writer.
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