- real living wage
- fairer hours and contracts
- employee wellbeing
- employee representation
- diversity and inclusion
- environmental responsibility
- paying fair tax
- commitment to customers
- ethical sourcing
- prompt payment
York became the first GBC City in 2021 and we're highlighting some of the organisations that are part of our GBC movement.
A close-knit family team, Tom, Georgia and Olivia Calvert, who grew up in York, decided to start their sustainable luxury stationery business, Avorium, on Colliergate in 2021.
With more of us working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the siblings identified a gap in the market for good-quality, colour-co-ordinated desk accessories that would allow customers to curate their workspace.
The Calvert siblings have been delighting shoppers with their range of pastel-coloured desk accessories and stationery. Since 2021 the business has continued to grow, branching out into the in-demand field of bespoke wedding stationery this year.
We caught up with the team at Avorium to chat about their Good Business Charter journey.
Why join the Good Business Charter
Georgia recalls that GBC accreditation made sense for the business from the outset:
The Good Business Charter 10 components were already non-negotiables for us, so it was easy for us to align our values with the Good Business Charter’s 10 criteria.
GBC accreditation provided Avorium with a framework to recognise the sustainable practices and social responsibility at the core of their business identity, from using sustainable materials in their products to ensuring staff are paid and treated fairly.
Running a small business is difficult, and you can’t do everything all of the time, but what matters to us is that we’ve invested the time and energy to explore all of the options to make our business practices as ethical and responsible as possible.
"For instance, where we know we can’t avoid carbon emissions at certain points in our supply chain, we try to offset these elsewhere in the process."
The team also credit the GBC and the principles it stands for with helping them build a work culture that attracts and retains quality staff.
While the shop is usually staffed by the 3 founders, they have begun to hire temporary retail assistants over the festive season, Avorium’s busiest period.
The team have found that paying staff the real living wage, one of the GBC’s requirements, has helped them build a loyal, skilled and motivated sales team that return year after year to help with the Christmas rush.
We know that working in retail over the festive period has a reputation as tough work, and we want Avorium to be different.
“Paying staff that little bit extra, on top of the legal minimum wage rate, doesn’t make much difference to the overall baseline of the business, but it makes a huge difference to the wellbeing of our team, and that’s very important to us.”
Georgia added that Avorium’s focus on staff wellbeing is also good business sense:
Employees who are genuinely excited to come to work, and happy when they’re on the shop floor, are better salespeople, and we find that kind, friendly customer service pays off in terms of sales and customer loyalty.
The Calverts urged other small businesses in the city to explore the Good Business Charter as a way of boosting their business and doing good for people and the planet.
If you want to join Avorium and over 90 other York organisations in becoming part of the Good Business Charter movement, sign-up to the accreditation scheme today.