How – and why – we run an ethical and sustainable design agency

This article by Kayleigh Nicolaou is a wonderful example of highly skilled and intelligent young people who are moving away from the honey-trap of the corporate world to launch a better type of business, in this case, Kakadu Creative, an ethical and sustainable design agency.

This is Kayleigh’s story:

Kayleigh's story about setting up an ethical and sustainable design agency
When we set up Kakadu Creative some of our friends thought we were mad.

Lee and I were both working for one of the biggest multi-national publishers in the world and had built up strong careers and healthy salaries to boot. We were comfortable and we had a secure future ahead. So why give all that up and risk the uncertainty of starting your own agency?

But, whilst on the surface we looked like we had it all sewn up, in truth we were unfulfilled. Working for a large-scale corporate business where revenue and profit were the number one point of conversation meant it was hard to see what positive impact we were having on the world around us. Especially when just getting a basic recycling system in place for the three-storey, 600+ employee office we worked in was a battle?

So, what was the alternative?

Well, after much deliberation, we decided enough was enough and it was time we went our own way and set up an ethical and sustainable design agency. An agency that puts people and planet before profits, and an agency that helps to support other businesses with the same mission.

And that all sounds great. But what’s the reality? What does it take to run an ethical and sustainable design agency?

Well, this is how we do it…



We use a 100% green energy provider, Green Energy UK, for our gas and electricity. They’re more expensive than other providers, but we believe that it’s worth it and that always focusing on getting the cheapest price is one of the biggest problems we face as a society today.



We don’t stop at renewable energy, because let’s face it, it’s not enough as we still create carbon emissions through our day-to-day business activities. So we calculate and offset these emissions every month to ensure that we’re a carbon-negative business.



Where you invest your money is just as important as what you spend it on. So all of our business accounts are with ethical bank Starling. Our company pensions are also invested in ethical and sustainable funds to help support the growth of the green sector.



Every quarter we donate a percentage of our profits to a range of charities. And we’re thrilled to have been able to support 20 different charities so far.


volunteering is a key feature of an ethical and sustainable design agencyVOLUNTEERING

We know that sometimes you need more than money and that your time and energy are just as important to donate. So, we regularly volunteer our time to a range of local causes and community groups.

As you can see, I really enjoy volunteering at the community gardens for a local mental health charity



We do not work with businesses or buy products that are involved in any form of animal abuse or exploitation. We have also established a network of suppliers and partners who hold these same values, ensuring that our supply chain is also cruelty-free.



We run a paperless office – well, except for a recycled paper notebook each. Our business cards are made from recycled t-shirt offcuts originally destined for landfill and we use pencils or refillable pens. When we need to replace our office equipment the rule is always ‘can it be fixed or can it be bought second hand or manufacturer refurbished’.



We work from a home office. Again, this was something some of our more traditional friends warned us against but we believe that the future is remote working and the pandemic has definitely reinforced this viewpoint.

Driving to and from an office every day, creating unnecessary emissions just to sit behind a desk in a climate-controlled office didn’t make sense to us. There’s a whole host of technology out there that makes remote working easy, productive, and no less creative.

As well as our internal business decisions we carry our ethics through to how we work with our customers and suppliers.



We don’t believe in trying to be a jack of all trades and compromising your project to make a quick profit. Therefore, we have a network of specialist, trusted service providers and freelancers which we work with when a project needs services outside of our in-house expertise. Our suppliers are always paid a fair wage/rate for their work, we never undercut them and we always pay on time, if not early.



Our promise to you is that we will always put you first. Our service is always tailored to you and your specific business needs.

Every project is a team effort with you at the heart of it. We will listen to you and adapt to your requirements, not the other way around.

We don’t believe in copy and paste templates and we will always put your business before our profit. You can trust us to be honest about the best options for your business and we will never take on a project that we can’t deliver.


And that’s it. That’s how we run an ethical and sustainable design agency. If you’d like to find out more about anything above for your business, please do drop us a line and we’ll be happy to talk through how we do it.

And if you’ve got other ideas of ways we can become even more ethical and sustainable, we would love to hear them.