Deck The Smalls: A few of my favourite, purpose-driven businesses

Deck the Smalls campaign
Virgin StartUp
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 15 December 2021

As part of the campaign, Virgin StartUp has wrapped the home of Sipful founders, Darius and Emily Darwell, in a Christmas lights extravaganza. Sipful is a cocktail in a can start-up that has gone from strength to strength with a little funding support from Virgin StartUp. The display is bringing a lot of festive cheer to the Yorkshire town of Ingleton (which the team cheekily re-named ‘Jingleton’) and is a bright reminder of the joy that independent businesses bring us.

As Andy Fishburn, the Managing Director of Virgin StartUp, put it: “Their workshops are often hidden away in sheds, kitchens and garages and don’t always get the recognition they deserve. So, we’re shining a light, quite literally, on start-ups like Sipful to say thank you and to encourage would-be founders to make 2022 the year their own start-up ambitions come true.” 

Inspired by the festivities, I wanted to spotlight a few of my favourite start-ups, that are purpose-driven, people-focused and planet-friendly to their very core. 

Petit Pli 

Petit Pli is one of the coolest concepts for clothing I’ve ever come across. The label creates children’s clothing that grow as your little ones do – so a child can wear one of their products from nine-months-old to the age of four! As a mum of three kids who seem to grow an inch taller every day, I’m so impressed by their designs.

The company was founded by aeronautical engineer Ryan Mario Yasin, who was getting frustrated by gifting his nephew with clothes that were often too small by the time they arrived! The team is driven by the idea that waste is a design flaw, and they actively encourage people to value their garments and to use less.

Petit Pli has expanded into an equally impressive adultwear collection and has created some of the most futuristic face masks around. As the label continues to scale, I’m excited to see the positive impact it will have on the industry. Considering that extending an item of clothing’s life by just nine months results in 20-30% carbon and water reduction, the prospects are very promising indeed! 


Subship is a one-stop-shop that makes buying local and ethical products like deli items, artisan bread, aperitifs, and ethically sourced coffee super easy. The founder, Tom Szekeres, was born and bred in South London and wanted to build a business that let people buy good and do good.

As Tom said: “I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.” The weekly delivery of local goods is dropped to your door, emission-free, and is such a nice way to support founders who are so local they might also be your neighbour. 

Blonde Gone Rogue 

Blonde Gone Rogue is the sort of start-up story that really gets me excited. As a certified B-Corp, Blonde Gone Rogue is a sustainable fashion label that designs fashion-forward collections made from upcycled textiles and organic cotton. I also love that the label was founded by two sisters, Gergana and Deni Damyanova, and they produce everything in their family’s home town in Bulgaria.

The sisters only partner with small factories that offer good and safe working conditions, and they have worked tirelessly to develop an 100% transparent supply chain. Transparency and accountability is key for Gergana and Deni, so they launched The Blonde Chain to give anyone and everyone visibility into their production process. The way the label can transform fabric factory leftovers into some of the most unique and chic pieces is really inspiring, and it proves that cool clothes don’t need to cost the planet! 

These three businesses are just a tiny snapshot of the UK’s growing cohort of start-ups and small businesses that are putting people and planet at the heart of everything they do. For more inspiration, take a look at Virgin StartUp’s gift guides for tasty treats and perfect presents

Here’s more about their brilliant Deck the Smalls Christmas campaign too.