A Cockenzie mum bags and accessories company has become a huge success, providing fashionable and eco-friendly products at an affordable price.
AR+CO was founded by Borders-based sisters Amy and Stacey Hardie in 2020 during lockdown; Molly Anthony, 23, from Cockenzie, joined the team nine months ago.
The company prides itself on offering ethical fashion, creating products that use vegan leather and sustainable production methods.
Molly said: “It started when they [Amy and Stacey] created a vegan leather pouch designed for moms as an alternative to a [baby] diaper bag and it was extremely popular.
“I joined in December 2021, and we now have around 10 products. We design everything and everything is handmade in the UK from cruelty-free vegan leather.
“We started from scratch; none of us had much business experience, so we all do everything by ourselves – we do our own photo shoots, typography, design and all other business aspects.
“He grew massively; we have sold over 2,500 bags now.
“We see people wearing our bags that we don’t know and it’s quite a strange feeling to see people wearing your creations.
“I don’t think any of us expected him to grow so fast and so big!”
Molly told the Courier that the sustainable message is an important part of the company’s ideology and close to her heart, having studied sustainable fashion at Heriot-Watt University.
She said: “Part of my degree was learning about sustainable fashion and how we can do better and I think right now – especially with the current climate – everyone is starting to realize that we have to be more durable in all aspects.
“The most durable bags right now are the most expensive, and they’re a big investment.
“Right now the cost of living is just ridiculous, so we wanted to give everyone the opportunity to buy this durable, quality bag.”
The women run the business alongside their main job and Molly encouraged others to follow their passion and start a business, even though it can sometimes be difficult.
She said: “I’m a mom of two and I also do social media marketing; Stacey is a full-time nurse and has a daughter. while Amy is an accountant, so we do all of this in addition to our full-time jobs.
“We’ve been through a lot of periods that aren’t so good and it’s easy to get demotivated.
“But we’ve been through it and there will always be times when it’s not as good but never get discouraged – you just have to keep going.”
Molly became pregnant with her first child in her third year of college, leaving her to juggle the responsibilities of studying and being a new mom.
However, she described it as a blessing, as it helped her find the determination and dedication to work with AR+CO.
She said: “People think when they have kids they can’t focus on their careers when it doesn’t have to be like that.
“I get that not everyone can do a nine-to-five, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start something on your own and do your own thing too.”