Bea Thackeray

Cracking the Sustainable Christmas Code With Bea Thackeray

May 15, 2024

“ It is Estimated 100 million crackers are pulled in one festive season in the UK!”

I am Bea Thackeray, founder of Keep this Cracker.

All my life I have loved art. From being the child who hid herself away in her room for hours building a house out of cardboard for my dolls, to a designer for a large high street corporation, to a self-employed entrepreneur – paper, pens, art, design, sustainability – all those things are part of me. 

I grew up in London. Most of my childhood was spent drawing – it was all I wanted to do. Following school, I attended the Harrow School of Art where my perceptions and ideas grew monumentally. Getting to draw every day really solidified my love for the subject. Following my final project at university, I designed a book for a women’s group as a side piece to my project. During the showcase, somebody from The Body Shop saw my work and contacted me to come join the business. After originally turning them down because I felt I didn’t have enough experience, I began my journey with The Body Shop.

I worked for The Body Shop for over 10 years. I had a successful career designing products and campaigns, but I always felt like I wanted to do something for myself. Something that I believed was authentic, innovative and, most of all, sustainable. We live in a world where packaging and produce are littered with unnecessary single-use plastic and, while I do think this is getting better, I knew as a designer that whatever I produced must be sustainable.

I was asked to do a talk about the importance of paper at the Royal College of Art. The talk went well and I thought nothing more of it, but there was somebody in the audience who knew somebody else at Conran Octopus Publishing who needed someone to write an introduction for their book about paper. I agreed and wrote them the introduction. They then came back to me and asked me to write the whole book. I was amazed. That opportunity involved researching local craftspeople, history, techniques and design. I drew on my experience in Nepal where I saw how handmade paper was made. I was also able to visit the top people in the field, such as bookbinders and papier mâché artists. 

Having been able to travel and witness not only things within the art industry but also sustainable trade, I became even more interested in creating my own product. I started importing handmade, fair-trade paper to make my own cards, gift boxes etc. I became part of the BAFTS network, and after meeting people there, I was asked to run workshops in paper factories all over the world, from South Africa to Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines.

During this time I moved out of London, opting for the quieter life in Yorkshire and began working for myself. I found joy watching my daughter in her pushchair scribbling on bits of paper, I was so proud that she inherited my love for creativity. It was actually at one of her school Christmas fairs where I realised there was room in the market for Keep this Cracker. So, after years of research, I was able to design and sell my own product that I knew was truly sustainable.

I created reusable crackers. I used my research about paper to design crackers that can be pulled and then put back together again. Each year you can pull them back out of the loft, wipe the dust off, personalise them with whatever gifts you want and enjoy them knowing you are using a product that is completely sustainable. I have also designed them so that you can choose whether you want the bang in them as I am aware that some people and pets struggle with the noise. I believe I have created a product that is sustainable not only because it can be reused but it is completely plastic-free, all of the materials are made here in the UK and it is one investment for the rest of your Christmases.

So, from the child bursting with imagination, I believe I have grown and adapted to the world to use my creativity to challenge the norm in a sustainable way. I hope I am able to show that a sustainable product does not have to be synonymous with an expensive product, as I believe we can all make the right choices between buying one single product or investing in something that will last a lifetime. 

Finally, while my life has been a series of great opportunities, I believe they have all come due to my hard work and dedication to ensuring whatever I put my name to strives to better the world.

This blog was written by Megan Morris on behalf of Tales to Inspire.

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