Isobel Davies is the founder of Izzy Lane, a multi-award winning ethical fashion brand which uses wool from her flock of 700 rescued sheep. Isobel is an ambassador for the British textile industry and produces stunning knitwear that has graced catwalks globally. She has just launched No Cash Club, a barter website specifically for small businesses, artisans, artists and freelancers to swap skills and stock.
“You might want to spend some time in the South of France in exchange for helping with some animals – get that book written there. We have people joining from all over the world. We can do this now via Zoom. For instance, you can do a yoga class from California, how cool is that?”
A bit wild
Life was varied as my younger self; I was a bit wild. I left school at 16, eager to get on with it and went to live in France for a couple of years. I then settled in London and spent six months in the civil service, my only ever proper full-time job. I wasn’t good at it, I was more interested in the nightclubs of Soho!
I embraced Bohemian London with a vengeance, took up painting and that progressed into music. I played the saxophone and started singing and songwriting. With my band, we played on the London underground scene. We signed a deal, made a few records and toured Europe.
For the love of animals
I was then tired of the self-centred lifestyle and decided I needed to start a business. I came up with the idea for Farmaround, the first-ever organic box scheme. It took off from day one and I never returned to the music. I still run Farmaround. I also founded Hen Nation, a brand of high welfare organic eggs where the hens get to live out their lives. In the industry, they are killed at 72 weeks.
I also launched multi-award-winning Izzy Lane, an ethical fashion label, a voice for animals in the fashion industry. I rescued 700 lambs and old ewes from slaughter and they provide the wool for it. They are getting to live out their lives peacefully in the Yorkshire Dales.
No money, no problem
I have just launched No Cash Club, a barter site specifically for small businesses, freelancers, artists, artisans and anyone with a tradable skill or goods.
Through my years of busking in Covent Garden to make enough money to buy a malt loaf, and through my years of running small businesses, there have been times when I have taken a risk too far, been embroiled in shark loans, hanging on for dear life. Sometimes you simply have no money. You might have stock, stuff, but no cash.
With my businesses I instinctively would ask photographers if they would shoot in exchange for organic fruit and veg deliveries, ask the model if she would take clothes instead of a fee. It’s a hard question to ask. I decided to create No Cash Club as a place where all members are there because they are up for doing a cash-free deal.
Swap a yoga class for some time in France – it’s easy!
It’s easy to start a business these days with the ability to sell online, but getting a presence and selling is less easy. No Cash Club is a place where business owners can use the stock they can’t sell as their currency to buy things for themselves or services for their business.
They can also do deals in bulk to refresh their offering – a stock swap. These are particularly challenging time for us all with many sectors are on their knees, and with this platform, we can help each other out, support each other and hopefully get to the other side.
You might want to spend some time in the South of France in exchange for helping with some animals – get that book written there. We have people joining from all over the world. We can do this now via Zoom. For instance, you can do a yoga class from California, how cool is that? The more and the more varied people join up, the more possibilities there are.
You simply join up, create a profile and then create your offerings. People can browse your offerings and you can browse theirs. Membership is FREE.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is my local MP and I’m trying to decide whether to ask him if he will give it an official opening. No Cash Club may be too much irony for him, but I’ll give it a go.