Posted: Fri 5th Apr 2019
How did you come up with your business idea?
I am passionate about the environment but also love festivals, glitter and dressing up and grew up going to Glastonbury Festival.
I got the idea for EcoStardust when I was planning the celebrations for my 30th Birthday. A friend and I were having a Hollywood glitter and glamour themed party and I was ordering in party supplies which included kilo bags of glitter.
However, when it arrived with a large ingredients label saying polyester - it was then that I realised it was plastic and by using it I was littering, it took the shine out of it for me so I went on a search for an alternative and that is when EcoStardust #GlitterWithoutTheLitter came about.
What start-up challenges have you faced?
How we package our products in an ethical and sustainable way has been a big challenge. Sustainability is high on our priority list and I didn't want to package our environmentally friendly glitter in a plastic jar or any packaging we didn't feel was sustainable.
As we were selling biodegradable glitter I really wanted the packaging to be biodegradable too, however as a very small brand, with an even smaller budget I couldn't find anything suitable for us at the time or that we could afford/meet the minimum order quantities for.
We switched to looking into glass jars, however glass is only environmentally friendly if it is reused six or seven times. It also takes a lot of energy to produce, is heavy so has a higher carbon footprint to ship, is breakable and is not festival friendly (a market which we target heavily)
Luckily we then discovered aluminium packaging and switched to tins which are perfect for us. They are lightweight, infinitely recyclable and highly likely to be recycled because of its value. Our shallow design means they fit through letterboxes so most of our orders can be sent as a large letter and not need someone home to be received.
We do have a small amount of plastic in the window lid which is important for our product when on shop shelves so customers can see the blend inside, but it is made of PET which is the easiest to recycle plastic. However we will continue our journey towards sustainable packaging and are looking at other material options for the window.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I am so proud of how far the business has come within two years but for me working with ASOS within months of starting the business was and is an amazing achievement.
This year we are also launching with a major high street retailer and I can't believe how well our Business Insider interview video has done as it now has over 4.1million views on Facebook and just seems to keep on growing!
What is your next big business goal?
I want to continue to grow the business and this year we are working on entering new markets such as Germany and America. We have joined the Department for Trade Export for Growth programme and are excited to grow our business overseas.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge?
It is going to be a steep learning curve but I think finding distributors that reflect our values may be hard as we want to grow the business but in a sustainable way.
It will also be tough handing over sales to another company as we have never worked with distributors before, in the UK, or overseas so we will have to find ways to manage this while also giving the distributors some control over how they do things. This is not something I personally will find easy as someone who likes full control, however it will be necessary for the business to grow.
How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?
Enterprise Nation has helped me greatly. Building a new business can be lonely and Enterprise Nation has given me a support network and has allowed me to meet lots of local entrepreneurs that I have gone on to work with, and become friends with.
The monthly meetings mean I never feel alone and the online resources are great (I just wish I had more time to utilise them more).
All of the events are really helpful and I have learned so much through them.
Which other entrepreneur inspires you and why?
Jo Chidley from the Beauty Kitchen. She has built an amazing natural beauty business with amazing sustainability credentials.
They have a packaging return scheme which is something we are looking into for EcoStardust. It is great to see businesses stopping their waste from being sent to landfill or recycling and making sure it is reused.
What are your tips for business success?
I know people say it a lot but I wish I had listened more to this but never wait until everything is perfect. It took me months to get EcoStardust live because I was trying to get everything perfect and I missed out on months of learning and sales. I overhauled the whole website a month after opening anyway as I learnt so much from actually being live and having people using the website.
I also once pitched a new product to a customer when I didn't have everything ready; just some rough prototypes. They placed an order the next day even though they hadn't seen the perfect finished sample so you don't have to wait for perfect to be successful.
Don't be afraid to invest in yourself and your own personal development. One day you will hopefully be leading a team of people so it is important to build on your skills too.
I have recently completed a public speaking course as my personal goal this year is to do more public speaking about the business and have been doing podcasts and interviews, I think I sound like a robot in our Business Insider video and don't want that to happen again!
And finally, say yes to all help, ask questions and utilise the many resources there are for entrepreneurs. I wish I had known about all of the schemes available to me at the start of my journey, there are accelerator programmes, grants and all sorts of courses to help you learn such as the Natwest Accelerator Programme, Export for Growth Programme and Get Set for Growth Programme. You don't have to build and grow your business alone.
Anything else you would like to share?
We are committed as a company to moving towards sustainability and zero waste. For April Fools Day we posted an image saying to become zero waste we were giving away the very sparkly contents of our hoover bag. I am not sure whether to be shocked or amused but a lot of people actually thought it was true and wanted it. We had messages asking when it would be live and searches on our website for it. Maybe there is further money to be made?!
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