Philosophy

Philosophy

Many of us can no longer see how the products that we buy and use every day affect the health of our planet. So at Oak and Jay we have decided to do things differently, to only take from nature as much as we can give back, and to try to teach others how to do the same.

Split raw cherry wood sitting on the workbench next to a hatchet

We are making useful, handmade products from materials that can be regenerated by nature.

Having been reading for years about the fragility of the natural world and our destruction of it, we wanted to find ways to do things differently. What we discovered was that some of the answers to today’s problems could be found by looking backwards. Communities of people lived for tens of thousands of years without destroying the ecosystems they inhabited, so we have chosen to take some of the technologies that they used and incorporate them into our regenerative business.

Our woodenware is carved using only human-powered tools and made from wood grown, or reclaimed, near to where we live. Our pottery is thrown on a foot-powered kickwheel with clay dug from local deposits and fired sustainably in our wood burning kiln. And our long-term project is to manage a small farm in southern Ireland under the philosophy of regenerative agriculture, ensuring that the health of the people, wildlife, and soil can be sustained and improved—indefinitely.

We are setting an example of how to do business in an entirely transparent way.

As a species, we have proved time and again that we do not have the depth of empathy required for the hierarchies we create. Those at one end of the pyramid consistently end up too far removed from the lives of those at the other end, and we all end up suffering because of it. With ever-increasing income inequality, we realized that change wasn’t going to happen through the modern, opaque business structure. It is fundamentally broken, with all of the power constantly filtering up to fewer and fewer people, people who thrive on restricting the flow of information to those beneath them.

We have chosen to open source our business, from how we set our prices, to where we find our materials, to how much money we plan to make in a year. The world needs a new generation of small business owners who want to change the way things work for both the people and the planet.

Taking a break to drink some genmaicha tea at the work bench

We are giving back as much as, or more than, we take from our communities.

The idea of constant growth that forms the basis of modern capitalism is a direct contradiction to the world that we live in: you cannot have constant growth within a world of limited resources. You may not yet see the consequences of the waste of our society, but that is likely because you live in one of the monetarily wealthier nations that have been paying other nations to take our refuse for the past hundred or more years.

Worst of all, we haven’t just been shipping our waste off to other countries, but have been shipping it off to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the oceans that feed and sustain all life on this planet. They too, are completely fed up, and beginning to tell us how unwilling they are to keep accepting our pollution and waste.

This is why we choose to—and why we believe that all people should choose to—focus on what we can make, buy, and sell locally, rather than ignorantly exploiting resources and labor from places that we will never have to walk through and people we will never have to say good morning to. We can best monitor the health of the communities and ecosystems that we interact with every day.

A finished carving on top of unfinished spoons

We are choosing to create objects that will last a lifetime.

Whether planned obsolescence is intentional, or a byproduct of our carelessness, it is one of the banes of modern business. People have become used to the idea of purchasing a new phone every year because theirs isn’t as cool anymore, or isn’t working the way it did when it was new. The waste created by products that are not easily fixable and long-lasting is incomprehensible.

We make our products in ways that mean you will be able to pass them down to your children, or your children’s children. If properly cared for, hardwood and fired pottery are some of the most resilient materials known to humankind. And if not properly cared for, our products are made from resources that can be fixed, recycled, reused, or composted. At the end of a product’s life, we want it to be given back to nature.

A set of four cherry teaspoons in the maker's hand

We are making a difference by choosing to live differently, even in the smallest of ways.

We have dedicated ourselves to questioning the status quo, and refusing the accepted standards of business, capitalism, and consumerism. We hope you will join us in doing the same. Whether you do so by supporting our business, by learning from our methods and starting your own regenerative business, or simply by talking to people about our small business, we want you to know that you are an integral part of the change we so desperately need. Without you, without all of us working together in the smallest of ways, the changes the world needs would not be possible.

—Nick Kelly | Creator of Oak and Jay