A South Norwood firm has been chosen as one of the UK’s top 100 small businesses.

Isifiso sells recycled products and promotes sustainable fashion.

It has been recognised by Small Business Saturday UK, which celebrates small business success and encourages consumers to shop local and to support businesses in their communities.

Launched by Kavitha Soundararajan, from Thornton Heath, Isifiso sells reusable products such as cloths, soap bags and cutlery bags created using recycled materials, and runs sustainable fashion workshops that teach skills such as sewing and mending.

Most products come with a repair and return service to increase the product's lifecycle and are handmade in Croydon. 

Kavitha said: “I jumped around the room and danced when I found out about the Small Business Saturday announcement.

“I didn’t think I’d stand a chance in receiving this recognition, but our business has been going from strength to strength.”

After moving to the UK from India when she was 24-years-old, Kavitha started running local market stalls, but didn’t think she would have the confidence to make a living from starting her own small business.

She added: “Selling things that you make is very personal and part of who you are is in the product.

“As a small business owner, it can be difficult to manage workload, but seeing the interest people have in coming along to our workshops and buying our products has been amazing."

Kavitha was supported by Croydon Council to kickstart her business after taking part in the South Norwood Business Launchpad scheme in 2022, an initiative to support small and developing businesses funded by the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund.

The aim of the programme was to give the entrepreneurs that attended the council's South Norwood Business Builder course, in May last year, a chance to apply what they had learned in a supportive environment, using the Clock Tower Market in South Norwood as a testing ground for using their business idea.

Kavitha was one of two winners on the programme and won a four-month pitch at the market, as well as a marketing budget and mentoring sessions with an established trader.

The second winner was Lorraine Alexis – also a South Norwood entrepreneur – who makes vegan, cruelty-free, organic skincare under the brand name, Glowpretty London.

Glowpretty was a recipient of the Vegan Choice Awards 2023.

Kavitha said: “The South Norwood Business Launchpad was a brilliant scheme that helped to provide me with the marketing skills needed to help run my business.

Jason Perry, Executive Mayor of Croydon, said: “Congratulations to Kavitha and the Isifiso team.

“I am always proud to see our small businesses in Croydon excel and this is a brilliant recognition of Isifiso’s craft and hard work.

“Supporting local businesses is a priority for me and I am delighted to see how programmes like the South Norwood Business Launchpad has helped our traders develop important business skills."