Words by Amy Packham
There’s no denying the festive season is full of products and single-use buys that aren’t exactly great for the planet… but the magic these bring can sometimes be hard to resist.
Take crackers, for example. The gorgeous-looking table decoration, the joy when you pull it alongside your loved ones, wearing the paper hats… it’s a staple festive tradition.
Lucy Ewles wanted to keep that tradition alive – but make it better for the planet. In 2020, she created Kaneo: beautiful, eco, reusable crackers for Christmas.
Named after the village she married her husband, Lucy came up with the business idea after Christmas 2019. “I had a big do and did fill-your-own crackers,” she says. “We had 22 people, I personalised them all and it was such a hit, but after, I felt awful.
“We had nearly 3 bin bags full of this rubbish. I wanted something that looks lovely on the table, but for it to go straight in the bin or recycling felt a bit wrong.”
Lucy started searching for reusable crackers that still had that “snap”, but couldn’t find any. So she tried herself. “I’m a crafty person, so I do enjoy things like that,” she says.
Working full-time as a teacher, she spent her evenings and weekends with her sewing machine and making prototypes. She managed to create crackers that were reusable, could “snap” when pulled, and looked good, too. Her friends loved them – and it spiralled from there.
Lucy found a manufacturer and decided to turn her reusable crafty crackers into a business, with 2021 being her first year of trading. She did a Hatch Enterprise cause that year for entrepreneurs who are looking to give back through their business idea – because she wanted to make sure they were crackers who did more.
“I always wanted to do something good with these,” says Lucy, “giving back is the side that is really interesting to me.
“I wanted it to be embedded within what the crackers were about. When I was looking at charities, the most iconic Christmas charity is the Salvation Army – they do so much around helping people with homelessness, providing hot dinners and places for people to stay.”
Lucy approached them and they agreed to be a partner. Now, 10% of all sales go to the charity.
You can buy a box of six crackers, which come with 18 sticky snap sticks for three parties – and refills are sold, too. “These are special snap sticks I invented,” says Lucy. “They’ve got a sticky bit at both ends, the cracker has got two tubes, and they slide apart when you pull. The snap goes around the outside once you’ve put gifts in.”