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A Shell-eberation of Small 'Businesses'

Posted by Toby King on

I’m not sure that all of our customers know how much positivity they’ve contributed when they decided to buy a Merpola product. They’re about to find out…

Firstly, let’s acknowledge that the word “business” can be a bit of a trigger, it can sound ugly and cold; describing the mechanical cut-throat dealings of selling for profit.

It isn’t just the Starbucks chains and Amazons’ that are driven by this definition of business either, some small ones are in the game purely to make money too, and that’s fine. Buy a load of cheap wholesale phone cases from abroad and sell them for profit, or recycle someone else's internet meme or emoji, stamp it on a shirt and BOOM, you have a business - in the trigger sense of the word.

Here’s my issue - I don’t associate that definition of the word with what I'm doing, so writing about the term is tricky without clarifying something first. The traditional term of “business” doesn’t encapsulate what drives me, aka Merpola, to create unique and emotive physical items & to build up a community around them. I can tell you for a fact that a lot of other unique independent businesses feel the same way, we’re in a different game.

When I think about what I want to achieve as an artist and a creator, it doesn’t include percentages of a market share or even a visual product itself - it’s more about providing for a community of like-minded people who share the same sense of wonder as I do. That community is, and will continue to be everything. I want my business to grow organically and responsibly and I have zero urges to be the head of a wealthy, tax-dodging conglomerate or to make a quick buck off of one-time shoppers. If I wanted those things I wouldn’t be focused on creating original stuff for punky landlocked mermaids (hi readers!).

So in our use of the word, here’s a few reasons why supporting a small, original independent businesses is the coolest thing you can do.

1. As businesses grow, they create opportunities.

More than half of all jobs in the USA are created by small businesses. When businesses rise up, they pull up others with them. The manufacturers they work with get larger orders so they can continue employing people. The business itself needs more hands on deck, so they employ people too. The more you shop at a store, the more employment opportunities you create there. Lives change because you’ve chosen to invest. Invest wisely and invest often.

2. It’s a personal experience.

You know me, you can reach me anytime. Any questions you may have, I’ll answer them directly. It’s a personal connection you won’t get with a larger, faceless company. Cheer with me when there’s good news, sulk with me when there’s a setback - it’s a team you can root for whilst also being a member of.

3. Don't just build a business, build a community.

Buying from a business directly supports the local community, helping it to grow and nurture other small business to rise up.

4. Your voice matters,

...and you can ultimately break or shape the independent business you buy from. Whilst your feedback may get logged or acknowledged by a larger company, when you say something to a smaller business - it sticks. “I love this colour” means we’ll make more things in that colour. “The shipping speed was slow” would be upsetting to hear, but it would mean re-evaluating the shipping methods we’ve been using. Talk to small businesses, they will listen to you.

5. Break the mould!

You’re celebrating the unique and breaking the cookie cutter status-quo when you choose to buy independently.


Thank you for all the support you've given me and my business so far, let's continue to support all the little guys trying to make a big splash. There are a million flavours out there, be bold and try something new.

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