Posted: Tue 24th May 2022
Enterprise Nation has created Plan it with Purpose, a programme to help 10,000 businesses implement sustainable best practices that have a positive impact on the planet, society and the economy.
Through the programme, we like to showcase role models other business owners can relate to. Here, we talk to Serene Morden McDade, founder of Poise & Go, a sustainable skincare company. Serene explains what sustainability means to her and how she's embedded it into her business.
When and how did you make the move into business ownership?
I was made redundant during the pandemic and decided this was the right time to take a leap of faith and build my own business, a skincare and wellbeing brand with all the core values that are important to me.
I've always had challenges with my skin, and over the years invested heavily in a considerable collection of high-end skincare serums. But none of them created the same sense of wellbeing that I'd experienced after having a facial at a spa. Those moments are great, but they are costly and never frequent enough.
That inspired me to create a range of spa-quality face treatment masks that are affordable, clean and eco-friendly. Using them allows you to relax at home, boost your skincare regime and work on your wellbeing.
Did you seek any support when you were first setting up your new business?
No. I felt it was part of the journey to experience every aspect for myself and own and learn from any mistakes I made along the way.
In my career, I've had a lot of exposure to business-building – albeit in a different industry – and so I had the skillset to get started. There's so much information available online to support new business owners – the main challenge is planning out what will benefit you and at what point.
Can you talk through those early days? What went well and what didn't? How did you overcome any problems?
For me, the overarching challenge was self-belief. When you're working alone, you have only yourself to answer to. This has many benefits as you can move forward without delay. But when you come to a crossroads, you don't have a team to bounce ideas off.
That was definitely challenging for me, and to overcome it I'd make sure I had a strategy for every aspect of the business. I'd only navigate away from it if I had a valid and considered reason to do so.
Was being sustainable a priority from the beginning, or something you built in later?
Sustainability is non-negotiable for me personally, and it had to be the same for my business. As a mum of two boys (aged four and seven), I want to build a future for them, and I can only do that if my business has strong, sustainably conscious values.
It's challenging and more time-consuming to build a business this way, but the rewards are completely worth it.
What do you see as the key measures a business should adopt to be more sustainable?
Planning and mindset. With every aspect of the business, sustainability should be a core principle. That way, it's always at the forefront of your strategy and never an afterthought.
Supply chain management. This is key, making sure you choose 'green' partners for every area of your business. Considering the whole impact of your business from the ground up can make a huge difference.
Education. Keeping current with sustainability, so you can strive to improve on a regular basis.
What simple, low-cost measures can existing businesses take to improve their sustainability?
Rather than just focusing on the larger aspects of your business, look at ways you can make an impact without incurring large costs and while improving your customer experience.
For example, do you need to print a large brochure to send out with every order, or can you make it shorter and add a QR code with a link to your brochure online?
Be vocal about why you're doing things the way you are. Is your packaging simple and small, as a conscious effort to have a positive, sustainable impact? Educate yourself, stay current, and look at similar businesses to yours to see how they're improving their sustainability.
Finally, put a plan in place to make changes as your business grows, and give yourself realistic goals (such as offsetting your carbon footprint). Talk to your partners and understand more about what they're doing to be sustainable, and look their sustainability principles to see if you can incorporate them into your own business.
Now you're established, what do you see as the next steps for your business?
Growing the brand and product line, while consistently innovating on products, materials, ingredients and packaging. Our main focus is for the packaging to be kerbside recyclable and we're working hard to make this possible.
What are the most important lessons you've learned from going into business for yourself?
Be prepared for change! As your business grows and develops, your plans will need to pivot. This can be challenging, as you always need to remind yourself of why you started the business and what your ethos and values are.
And believe in yourself and enjoy the journey. I started my business because I'm passionate about women taking time out for themselves, and I also want to build a future for my children. So when things are tough, I remind myself of why I started and it always helps me to reset.
Plan it with Purpose
A programme designed to help owners of small and medium-sized businesses develop a better understanding of environmental and social issues in the UK. Visit the Plan it with Purpose hub