Craft micro-enterprises contributions to sustainability: the example of yarn related businesses

  • Alice Owen Sustainability Research Institute School of Earth and Environment University of Leeds
Keywords: craft, building, textiles, micro-enterprises, collaboration, networks


This paper uses two case studies of small UK-based yarn businesses to explore whether craft enterprises might make a distinctive contribution to sustainable development. The ways in which positive social, environmental and economic impacts are supported by these businesses are identified and their potential as niche sites contributing to a broader sustainability transition is considered. These businesses themselves believe there are strong links to the social dimensions of sustainability, particularly in terms of community building. There is also a distinctive contribution to economic aspects of sustainability with the outputs of craft enterprises releasing latent financial value and attaching value associated with provenance and rarity compared to a commodity market, rather than contributing to conventional economic growth. Contributions to environmental sustainability are largely indirect, through changing the economic viability of marginal agricultural production and therefore allowing conservation management in less economically favoured areas. This preliminary analysis suggest that the smallest craft enterprises do offer insights into how a wide transition might be achieved, but realising such a transition is made more difficult by the ambitions and motivations of the individuals in the craft businesses themselves.

Author Biography

Alice Owen, Sustainability Research Institute School of Earth and Environment University of Leeds
Associate Professor in Business, Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement


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