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Continually adapting your business - with Holly Watson, The Zero Waste Company
Episode 1289th September 2022 • Bring Your Product Idea to Life • Vicki Weinberg
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Today on the podcast, I'm talking to Holly Watson. Holly is the co-founder of the Zero Cafe and Emporium, a plastic free cafe in community space in the heart of Tunbridge Wells.

The Ethical Emporium provides an opportunity to offer local independent designers, makers, and brands to showcase their sustainable artists and wears all under one roof. Along with co-founder and best friend Charlotte Bowyer. Holly is passionate about living a plastic-free lifestyle and encouraging others to do the same.

Holly and Lottie's business has pivoted many times over the past few years, partly from necessity and the result of things like COVID. Holly shares how they have made these decisions whilst ensuring they stay true to their core values.

Listen in to hear Holly share:

  • An introduction to herself and her business (01:31)
  • What inspired her to set up a zero-waste shop (02:43)
  • The impact of covid on shopping habits (05:59)
  • Pivoting towards the cafe (06:41)
  • Why zero waste shops nationwide have struggled since the pandemic (09:01)
  • The challenges of sourcing and stocking zero waste products (14:28)
  • Learning to adapt your business (17:08)
  • Making the most of a flexible space (19:36)
  • Launching the Ethical Emporium (21:46)
  • Expanding the Ethical Emporium concept (30:47)
  • Developing her own product range, Wander & Wild (40:13)
  • Advice on running a business with a friend (46:59)
  • Her number one piece of advice for product creators (54:02)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

The Zero Waste Company Website

Zero Waste Company Facebook

Zero Waste Company Instagram

Zero Waste Company Twitter

Wander & Wild Candles

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Transcripts

Vicki Weinberg:

Welcome to the, Bring Your Product Ideas To Life podcast, practical

Vicki Weinberg:

advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products.

Vicki Weinberg:

Here's your host Vicki Weinberg.

Vicki Weinberg:

Today on the podcast, I'm talking to Holly Watson.

Vicki Weinberg:

Holly is the co-founder of the Zero Cafe and Emporium, a plastic

Vicki Weinberg:

free cafe in community space in the heart of Tunbridge Wells.

Vicki Weinberg:

The Ethical Emporium provides an opportunity to offer local independent

Vicki Weinberg:

designers, makers, and brands to showcase their sustainable artists

Vicki Weinberg:

and wears all under one roof.

Vicki Weinberg:

Along with co-founder and best friend Charlotte Bowyer.

Vicki Weinberg:

Holly is passionate about living a plastic-free lifestyle and

Vicki Weinberg:

encouraging others to do the same.

Vicki Weinberg:

I had a really great conversation with Holly, as you will

Vicki Weinberg:

hear in this conversation.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, Holly and Charlotte's business has pivoted many

Vicki Weinberg:

times over the past few years.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, partly from necessity, obviously, um, with COVID.

Vicki Weinberg:

And Holly also talks about some choices they've made to

Vicki Weinberg:

do things a little differently.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, and I really found their business model fascinating.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, the zero cafes actually, and now the Ethical Emporium actually

Vicki Weinberg:

quite local to me, I've been in there a few times and it's great to

Vicki Weinberg:

see how it's evolved over the years.

Vicki Weinberg:

So I really hope that you enjoyed this conversation with Holly.

Vicki Weinberg:

So hi Holly.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much for being here.

Holly Watson:

Yeah, no problem.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, can we start with you, please give an introduction to

Vicki Weinberg:

yourself, your business and what you do?

Holly Watson:

Absolutely.

Holly Watson:

So, um, I'm Holly Watson.

Holly Watson:

I'm one half of the Zero Waste Company.

Holly Watson:

So I've run it with my business partner.

Holly Watson:

Um, Charlotte Bowyer, who is in the shop today.

Holly Watson:

Um, so the Zero Waste Company is a sustainable vegetarian and

Holly Watson:

vegan cafe and Emporium on the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells.

Holly Watson:

Um, and we basically, it is kind of like running two businesses.

Holly Watson:

So we have.

Holly Watson:

The cafe side of things, which is all kind of homemade onsite, um, kind of

Holly Watson:

delicious vegetarian and vegan food, um, that we try and cater to as many kind of

Holly Watson:

allergies and dietary parts as possible.

Holly Watson:

But it's, it's really, it's kind of proper good cafe food.

Holly Watson:

So, you know, toasties and soups and salads and things like that.

Holly Watson:

Um, and then the ethical Emporium is our retail space, which, um, Is

Holly Watson:

a kind of community based space for, um, local brands and sellers to sell

Holly Watson:

they're ethical and sustainable.

Vicki Weinberg:

Amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

Now I know when you set up zero waste, which was two, three years ago, Holly.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Holly Watson:

Almost we're in our third year now.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Holly Watson:

Oh, project.

Vicki Weinberg:

I know that when you originally set it up, um, it

Vicki Weinberg:

was a slightly different model.

Vicki Weinberg:

So do you want to talk about what inspired you to start Zero Waste

Vicki Weinberg:

initially and what the business looked like almost three years ago?

Holly Watson:

Yeah, sure.

Holly Watson:

Um, so myself and Lottie were both when we met, we both.

Holly Watson:

Eight month old baby boys.

Holly Watson:

So we'd kind of met as freelancers and had kind of common ground on the

Holly Watson:

fact that we were, I mean, I kind of jokingly sound myself profess hippy.

Holly Watson:

So I tend to kind of be more, you know, I'm always trying to sort of

Holly Watson:

think of ways of like reducing waste and being really environmentally

Holly Watson:

conscious and things like that.

Holly Watson:

And Lottie is very similar.

Holly Watson:

Um, and we both were really frustrated with the.

Holly Watson:

Kind of almost like the, the forced options of when you have

Holly Watson:

children of how much the packaging of everything increases, the

Holly Watson:

kind of the throw away mentality.

Holly Watson:

Everything is, you know, single use disposable and that whole culture.

Holly Watson:

It's very hard to get out of.

Holly Watson:

So we end up.

Holly Watson:

Having a really good chat one day and talking about how we were trying to make

Holly Watson:

environmentally conscious decisions.

Holly Watson:

And that actually it's really hard to do because there's nowhere that you

Holly Watson:

can really just go and shop easily whilst, you know, thinking about not

Holly Watson:

buying lots of plastic or whatever.

Holly Watson:

Um, and so we kind of, the, the zero waste company was born out of a frustration,

Holly Watson:

I guess, of wanting to have access to alternatives to the supermarket in and.

Holly Watson:

The kind of disposable culture that we live in.

Holly Watson:

Um, and initially we were kind of, we didn't really know what to do.

Holly Watson:

And zero waste shops were quite a, a kind of a concept that was just

Holly Watson:

coming into sort of the light.

Holly Watson:

If you, you know, people were starting to kind of know about them, understand them.

Holly Watson:

So we did our research, some market research, um, and then found.

Holly Watson:

The place on the Pantiles, which, you know, with hindsight, you'd go, Hmm.

Holly Watson:

There's not much parking cuz that's the thing everyone says to us now

Holly Watson:

when they come shopping, it's like, there's not much parking there is,

Holly Watson:

but it's not on your doorstep as it is with some, you know, some of the

Holly Watson:

other places in some Tunbridge Wells.

Holly Watson:

But um, and we basically, yeah, we decided to create a traditional zero

Holly Watson:

waste shop, which is a refill shop.

Holly Watson:

So, um, initially it.

Holly Watson:

If you've ever been in our space, it's got a, kind of a, a big front

Holly Watson:

space and a smaller backspace.

Holly Watson:

So we decided to the whole shop was the front part.

Holly Watson:

And it was, you know, wall to wall gravity units filled with things like bread,

Holly Watson:

bread, not bread, no pasta, rice, grains cereals, nuts, everything you could

Holly Watson:

kind of imagine that you buy in bulk.

Holly Watson:

Um, and the way the zero waste model works is that you bring a container,

Holly Watson:

you weigh it, fill it, weigh it again.

Holly Watson:

Um, And pay for it.

Holly Watson:

So you're only paying for the good, you're not paying for the packaging.

Holly Watson:

So that's kind of how we started off.

Holly Watson:

And, you know, it was amazing.

Holly Watson:

We opened in November, 2019 and we had a really, really good response

Holly Watson:

from the community straight away.

Holly Watson:

It was, it was brilliant.

Holly Watson:

Um, people really coming on board with it and wanting to change the

Holly Watson:

hope shopping habits and wanting to understand you know, what, what it was.

Holly Watson:

We did, um, we converted like the back part of the shop into

Holly Watson:

a very small cafe at that point.

Holly Watson:

And we just were like, we'll just sell coffee and cake.

Holly Watson:

Um, that's kind of how we started.

Holly Watson:

Um, unfortunately COVID came along, um, which is, I think the story for so many

Holly Watson:

businesses who started out around that time for us, it was difficult because

Holly Watson:

we didn't have any kind of buffer.

Holly Watson:

We'd only been open like five months and.

Holly Watson:

We just started to get, you know, a following and people coming in when

Holly Watson:

obviously COVID shut a lot of that down.

Holly Watson:

We were really fortunate that we were technically, at that point, we were

Holly Watson:

classed as essential because we sold food.

Holly Watson:

Um, and we were able to keep open during that time and, you know, started offering

Holly Watson:

fruit and veg and deliveries and trying to service the community because no

Holly Watson:

one, I think knew at that point they was gonna go on for as long as it did.

Holly Watson:

Um, We thought it might be a couple of months, but the whole business

Holly Watson:

model had to change to allow for what happened during that time.

Holly Watson:

Um, so we just kind of adapted, but when things reopened again in 2020

Holly Watson:

in the summer for that brief period, um, we realized that there seemed to

Holly Watson:

be more kind of more people wanting the cafe side and ask us where our

Holly Watson:

lunch menu was and things like that.

Holly Watson:

So we kind of adapted as much as we could.

Holly Watson:

We started offering.

Holly Watson:

Proper food if you like.

Holly Watson:

Um, and we hired a, a chef, Jen who basically does everything for us.

Holly Watson:

She's incredible me and Lottie, don't come from chef or cafe backgrounds.

Holly Watson:

So she, basically, we kind of, we luckily got her, she's worked in, you know,

Holly Watson:

Cafes and restaurants in London and she's amazing, but she'd moved to Westerham

Holly Watson:

and she's ours now so basically she does all of our kind of vegan, vegetarian

Holly Watson:

food she makes for us and only us.

Holly Watson:

Um, and so the kind of the cafe offering started to increase.

Holly Watson:

Um, but it's, it's a funny thing, cuz it's hard for us to sort of not blame

Holly Watson:

COVID, but what ended up happening was especially during the winter months, I

Holly Watson:

think people with the lockdowns constantly coming into play and then not being locked

Holly Watson:

down and then you are, and then it was tiers and all of this kind of thing.

Holly Watson:

I think people's habits just changed and everyone reverted to shopping online.

Holly Watson:

And it got to kind of when, whenever that last lockdown lifted, um, that

Holly Watson:

we realized that the shopping habits for zero waste side of things haven't

Holly Watson:

picked up as much as we'd have liked.

Holly Watson:

Um, So we flipped the shop and the cafe so that the cafe became the bigger space

Holly Watson:

and the shop became the smaller space.

Holly Watson:

Um, and then I guess that did have a bit of a knock on effect because

Holly Watson:

then there was less stuff to sell.

Holly Watson:

And then it's a funny thing.

Holly Watson:

Like it's hard to take, like to admit when you realize that something's not

Holly Watson:

working as a business and going, um, this isn't doing what we had hoped

Holly Watson:

and it took us quite a long time to, I think, kind of get to the realization

Holly Watson:

point that we might need to change that side of the business completely,

Holly Watson:

which is then what we did recently.

Vicki Weinberg:

thank you for all of that.

Vicki Weinberg:

And we'll talk about, um, how your businesses evolve shortly, but I'd love to

Vicki Weinberg:

talk a little bit more about zero waste.

Vicki Weinberg:

So just to pick up on what you were saying, just then, do you have any

Vicki Weinberg:

thoughts on perhaps why, um, the zero waste, you know, the refill element

Vicki Weinberg:

didn't pick up again after COVID

Holly Watson:

I think it's, we're part of a, um, A couple of groups on

Holly Watson:

Facebook that are zero waste shop owners.

Holly Watson:

Um, and we've been part of that group since we launched,

Holly Watson:

you know, a few years ago.

Holly Watson:

And in that time we've seen a massive influx of people.

Holly Watson:

Opening shops.

Holly Watson:

. And then.

Holly Watson:

In this last six months, I'd say there's been at least 25 that have closed.

Holly Watson:

Um, it's nationwide, maybe even international.

Holly Watson:

Cause there are some international people within that group, but everyone's

Holly Watson:

saying the same thing and it, it does feel like COVID, it's, it's funny.

Holly Watson:

It had sort of a knock on effect in two different ways.

Holly Watson:

Like.

Holly Watson:

It became everyone was going, oh, if you don't use it, you lose it.

Holly Watson:

So they all really wanted to support small businesses and local businesses, but.

Holly Watson:

It seemed a step too far to then ask them to change their

Holly Watson:

shopping habits completely.

Holly Watson:

So it seemed that it went from one way to the other.

Holly Watson:

You either have people who wanna change their shopping habits and they're

Holly Watson:

happy to make the effort cause it, it is more effort to shop that way.

Holly Watson:

It is, it does require a level of planning and thinking about it.

Holly Watson:

Even if you come with no containers and fill up with bags, which

Holly Watson:

you're very welcome to do.

Holly Watson:

Um, you've still got to decant them when you get home.

Holly Watson:

You've gotta think about how you're gonna store that.

Holly Watson:

You kind of need to have a bit of an idea of what you wanna buy.

Holly Watson:

Um, and so I think there's a level of care and consideration that you need, that some

Holly Watson:

people just don't have the mental capacity for at the moment, because of all of the

Holly Watson:

other stresses that COVID has created.

Holly Watson:

And.

Holly Watson:

You know, people's whole, like lives changed in the sense of most people.

Holly Watson:

Now haven't gone back to work full time in their offices, and everyone's kind

Holly Watson:

of adapted to this new way of living where perhaps they are spending more

Holly Watson:

time at home or they are, you know, they are prioritizing different things.

Holly Watson:

And I think convenience, it goes a long way in terms of why people do what they

Holly Watson:

do and make the choices that they make.

Holly Watson:

And it is more convenient.

Holly Watson:

To go to a supermarket and buy everything there and order all online

Holly Watson:

and have it delivered when, you know, you're working from home on this day.

Holly Watson:

And, you know, I think there's an element of that.

Holly Watson:

Um, but it does seem across the board.

Holly Watson:

It's not just us.

Holly Watson:

It.

Holly Watson:

We've seen it with people who are just zero shops we are very lucky

Holly Watson:

in the sense that we have the cafe.

Holly Watson:

So we've been able to adapt to, to make that, you know, more of what we offer now.

Holly Watson:

Um, but those who can't do that, or haven't got that opportunity are closing

Holly Watson:

because they're just not being used.

Holly Watson:

Um, and I guess there's a, an element of some supermarkets have introduced refill

Holly Watson:

sections, but I don't, I don't think.

Holly Watson:

I think it's, it's about the mentality since COVID of what people

Holly Watson:

are willing to spend time doing what they're willing to focus on.

Holly Watson:

And it just doesn't seem to be the right time now for zero

Holly Watson:

waste, which is a real shame.

Holly Watson:

And it's it's I find it very hard to say it because obviously it was our

Holly Watson:

passion for so long, but I've had to kind of come to the conclusion

Holly Watson:

because, you know, we are running a business and when it doesn't make you

Holly Watson:

any money at all, it's not viable.

Holly Watson:

So.

Holly Watson:

You know, you have to find solutions outside of that that still kind

Holly Watson:

of sit within your ethoses.

Holly Watson:

Yeah, it's a, it's a tricky one.

Holly Watson:

I don't have all the answers.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank thank you for though for sharing, sharing that because I hope

Vicki Weinberg:

you don't mind me asking the question.

Vicki Weinberg:

And the reason I ask is that as like, as a consumer, I have seen zero waste shops

Vicki Weinberg:

pop up just locally, you know, with the area we both in Kent, I've seen zero

Vicki Weinberg:

waste shops come and I've seen some go.

Vicki Weinberg:

And, um,

Vicki Weinberg:

I just found that baffling, cause it kind of felt like it probably was pre COVID.

Vicki Weinberg:

It kind of felt like it was getting popular.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

And then suddenly it felt like everything changed again.

Vicki Weinberg:

And um, yeah, I, I, wasn't quite sure why, so thank you for explaining that.

Vicki Weinberg:

And as you say, that might not be the full picture, but

Vicki Weinberg:

I think it is, it's very hard.

Holly Watson:

It's hard to know exactly why we, I can only go on.

Holly Watson:

Myself and other owners are all dis discussing as people who

Holly Watson:

actually wanna run these businesses.

Holly Watson:

And I guess, you know, there's probably other factors that

Holly Watson:

I haven't even considered.

Holly Watson:

Um, and it's a shame because there are still people who want to shop

Holly Watson:

that way who are really hardcore and dedicated, but you know, it's difficult.

Holly Watson:

So for us, when we, we made a decision.

Holly Watson:

Literally very recently, I mean, last week recently to just no

Holly Watson:

longer sell refill food at all.

Holly Watson:

So we've, now we don't have any more gravity units in, in Zero.

Holly Watson:

We still sell the refill cleaning and household products.

Holly Watson:

Cause they've always maintained the same.

Holly Watson:

They've always been popular and people have always come in for those.

Holly Watson:

But food is a funny one.

Holly Watson:

Um, so when we made that decision, it was quite hard decision to sort of

Holly Watson:

essentially close that chapter completely.

Holly Watson:

Um, and yet, you know, Lots of people haven't noticed or cared, but there are

Holly Watson:

people who are like, oh, but this, but I used to come to you and it's heart.

Holly Watson:

It's heartbreaking.

Holly Watson:

Like knowing that you did have, you know, a couple of people who would really still

Holly Watson:

support that, but you know, you need 20, 30 people a week, not two . Yeah.

Holly Watson:

So, you know, it is, it's just a decision that we have to

Holly Watson:

make and it's, yeah, it's hard.

Holly Watson:

It's really difficult when you know, other people have the same

Holly Watson:

fashion as you, but you know,

Vicki Weinberg:

well, like you say, it's a business and if it's the household

Vicki Weinberg:

items that are still continuing to sell, then it makes sense that those

Vicki Weinberg:

would be the ones you continue to stock.

Vicki Weinberg:

Cause I guess also, I don't know, but with anything consumable,

Vicki Weinberg:

I guess there's the sourcing.

Vicki Weinberg:

And then how long can you physically hold the stock?

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Before it goes out of date, there must be a lot that goes into that.

Holly Watson:

The thing the, we kind of learnt the hard way that.

Holly Watson:

Especially cause we used to have a huge range and we reduced a little bit when

Holly Watson:

we moved from the cafe side into the shop side, like when we swapped the, the

Holly Watson:

areas around, we, we lost a little bit, but not much, but the managing of the

Holly Watson:

best before dates and the managing of the rotation of stock and the ordering.

Holly Watson:

And, and also along with COVID, you know, and Brexit was the whole thing of.

Holly Watson:

Suddenly the supplier's minimum order quantities were going from sort

Holly Watson:

of being 300 pounds per order to a thousand pounds in order, which is

Holly Watson:

a massive jump for a small business.

Holly Watson:

And yeah, it meant you'd have to literally wait until every single thing had run out.

Holly Watson:

Which point you're frustrating people who are like, have you

Holly Watson:

still not got any porridge oats?

Holly Watson:

Oh, I came last week.

Holly Watson:

You didn't have it.

Holly Watson:

And you're like, yeah, but I can't, I can't just buy all porridge oats.

Holly Watson:

I have to buy everything.

Holly Watson:

And it's a big kind of ask to, to spend a lot of money sourcing that.

Holly Watson:

And then for it to sit and not be bought it's it goes

Holly Watson:

against the whole waste thing.

Holly Watson:

And this is what me and Lottie came to realize is that, you know, some things

Holly Watson:

just, even though, you know, Kidney BES.

Holly Watson:

They're not really going to go out date.

Holly Watson:

They, they have to have a date on them, but they're fine.

Holly Watson:

Cuz they're a dried bean and they will last years, but

Holly Watson:

you can't legally sell that.

Holly Watson:

So even though, you know, it's okay.

Holly Watson:

You can't legally sell it.

Holly Watson:

So there's a lot of, kind of red tape surrounding, you know, food and, and

Holly Watson:

EHOs come in and they wanna know how you are maintaining all of your stock and

Holly Watson:

all your best before all of that stuff.

Holly Watson:

And it's such a huge amount of admin and time for something that doesn't

Holly Watson:

essentially pay that I do understand why people just, just say I can't do it.

Holly Watson:

Um, you know, maybe the answer is to find more sustainable packaging.

Holly Watson:

I mean, I hate even saying that because it makes me just go, ah,

Holly Watson:

like, because buying in plastic is the worst because they are single use

Holly Watson:

and they are the worst kinds as well.

Holly Watson:

Those particular plastics become microplastics, which are the ones

Holly Watson:

that really do kill fish and get into fetus and everything else that

Holly Watson:

you've seen in the news recently.

Holly Watson:

Um, so maybe the answer is to go back to paper

Holly Watson:

card packaging or something else if this is not what people want.

Holly Watson:

It's yeah, it's very hard.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, it sounds, it sounds really hard and I'm, as

Vicki Weinberg:

we are talking, I'm just seeing like how much Lottie yourself have

Vicki Weinberg:

adapted over the past few years.

Vicki Weinberg:

Cause it seems like, you know, it's continually things change.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

And you're having to make really hard decisions a lot.

Vicki Weinberg:

It sounds like.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Holly Watson:

It's funny.

Holly Watson:

It's we're both very good adapting.

Holly Watson:

That's one of the, one of the things that we kind of can say about ourselves in

Holly Watson:

the, you know, as business owners, we.

Holly Watson:

Don't shy away from having to like make difficult decisions and hard choices

Holly Watson:

and actually do things that make us feel uncomfortable, but we'd never do anything

Holly Watson:

that would challenge our original ethos.

Holly Watson:

So everything we've ever done business wise has always, we've got the

Holly Watson:

same kind of core belief structure.

Holly Watson:

So we are always kind of saying like, here's what we're gonna do.

Holly Watson:

Still going to benefit the environment as opposed to, you know, harm it in any way.

Holly Watson:

And.

Holly Watson:

Does make an decision mean that it's going to still be beneficial to people

Holly Watson:

and, you know, so we don't just kind of go, oh, it's not making so many money.

Holly Watson:

We'll just do something else.

Holly Watson:

Like it, there's always an environmental facts that comes into play with what

Holly Watson:

we do, because I just don't feel like I could go in to work every day and call

Holly Watson:

ourselves a Zero Waste Company without having the original core beliefs still.

Holly Watson:

Um, and I think Lottie's the same, but we've had to kind of.

Holly Watson:

Become slightly more business sort of minded, you know, like it would be lovely

Holly Watson:

to do all of this stuff in the community and give back and not have to worry about

Holly Watson:

it making any money, but it's not reality, especially when you have a business

Holly Watson:

on the Pantiles that costs a fortune.

Holly Watson:

And I mean, you know, we chose to set up there and in hindsight, you

Holly Watson:

know, we both say sometimes it's the cost of being on the Pantiles.

Holly Watson:

It's just already higher than any other place in Tunbridge Wells.

Holly Watson:

And.

Holly Watson:

Is it worth paying all the extra money to sort of be in that kind of location, you

Holly Watson:

know, all these things, but it's, it's funny because ultimately the answer still.

Holly Watson:

Yes.

Holly Watson:

So we just need to make it work for us and do it in a way that still

Holly Watson:

has that community feel and still challenges people's buying habits

Holly Watson:

and all of this kind of thing.

Holly Watson:

Like as long as we're still meeting those sort of initial, I guess.

Holly Watson:

Points that we, we started out with, I I'm okay with it, but yeah, there's definitely

Holly Watson:

been things, you know, we've definitely made mistakes and things that we.

Holly Watson:

Learn from, but I guess every business owner has that it's

Vicki Weinberg:

oh, absolutely.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

And with the location, I can certainly see that it would be like an expensive

Vicki Weinberg:

place to be um, but I guess the, one of the advantages is that that,

Vicki Weinberg:

that flexible space you've had.

Vicki Weinberg:

So you were talking about how, you know, the cafe was small and now

Vicki Weinberg:

the cafes larger, and you've been able to really adapt that space.

Vicki Weinberg:

So I guess that is one.

Vicki Weinberg:

Plus points because I mean, I've obviously been in and it

Vicki Weinberg:

is a, it's a nice big space.

Holly Watson:

Yeah, it is.

Holly Watson:

It's, it is a really large space and, you know, we never wanted it to have that kind

Holly Watson:

of clinical cause some zero waste shops are very sort of white and, you know,

Holly Watson:

clean and I kind of didn't want that.

Holly Watson:

I was very much about wanting to have some of our personality, you know, I'm quite.

Holly Watson:

Extrovert character.

Holly Watson:

And I like, I'm very creative and I like how things look.

Holly Watson:

So for me, the aesthetics of zero has been as much of a joy for me to

Holly Watson:

create as the actual business itself.

Holly Watson:

Um, You know, it's like, I've got wallpaper everywhere and you know,

Holly Watson:

it's, it's the lighting and everything.

Holly Watson:

We, we really think about it because for us, it's not just about

Holly Watson:

having a shop or having a cafe.

Holly Watson:

It's about creating a space.

Holly Watson:

People want spend time in, and that they can hire out to have parties or whatever.

Holly Watson:

So we constantly try and have as many, like, you know, Strings to our

Holly Watson:

bow, if you like, as, as possible.

Holly Watson:

And yeah, the adaptability of being able to move things around and having

Holly Watson:

a husband who's quite handy is helpful cause my poor husband I'm like, so I

Holly Watson:

need you to build me a veggie unit.

Holly Watson:

I'm like, and now that veggie unit needs to become a display unit

Holly Watson:

because we don't sell veggie anymore.

Holly Watson:

So can you adapt it to, you know, and he just kind of like comes in

Holly Watson:

and just builds stuff whenever I need him to, which is very helpful.

Holly Watson:

Um, but yeah, it's, I.

Holly Watson:

Sometimes having the vision, I'll often be like, I know exactly how I

Holly Watson:

want it to look and then I just need someone to help me kind of do it.

Holly Watson:

And Lottie's just like, just tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it.

Holly Watson:

But we've sort of, we work quite well together in that sense.

Holly Watson:

And I think, you know, if anything, I I'm really proud of the space

Holly Watson:

we've created because I do love it.

Holly Watson:

I love being there and I love how it looks and you know, I love it

Holly Watson:

when people come and they're like, oh, I've never been here before.

Holly Watson:

And you know, it's, it still gives me.

Holly Watson:

Feeling that of excitement that I want to be there.

Holly Watson:

So I think as long as we've still got that, we'll we'll carry on.

Holly Watson:

We'll keep, we'll keep adapting.

Vicki Weinberg:

that's good.

Vicki Weinberg:

And, um, I will also say that I'll make sure when we send, when this episode

Vicki Weinberg:

goes live, we include some photos as well as people can actually see the space.

Vicki Weinberg:

Cause I think that be really good.

Vicki Weinberg:

So speaking of adapting, let's talk about the Ethical Emporium, um, what

Vicki Weinberg:

it is, why you're doing it and which you've touched on partly already.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

And.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, let's start there.

Holly Watson:

Okay.

Holly Watson:

So we launched it back in April.

Holly Watson:

Um, and it was basically the idea came from the fact that the model that we

Holly Watson:

were currently, so the traditional retail model, as it stands is you have a space,

Holly Watson:

you buy things at wholesale, you sell them at retail and you make a profit margin.

Holly Watson:

So that's your average shop.

Holly Watson:

That's what everybody does.

Holly Watson:

And that's what we were doing even as a refill shop.

Holly Watson:

Um, but what that does mean is that it's on you as the business owner to

Holly Watson:

buy whatever stock you think people are gonna like and make sure you choose

Holly Watson:

the correct stuff and, and hope it sells, and you might make a mistake.

Holly Watson:

So something might sit on the shelf for a while and no one wants

Holly Watson:

it, or you might find something that everybody loves and you're winning.

Holly Watson:

Um, but that model is although it's kind of the most stereotypical

Holly Watson:

one that most people use.

Holly Watson:

It's not actually the best model for.

Holly Watson:

The brands that you're buying in and, and the business owner, because

Holly Watson:

you can't easily make changes without either spending money.

Holly Watson:

And then, you know, having to others put something on sale,

Holly Watson:

if it doesn't sell or whatever.

Holly Watson:

Um, but also the cash flow of paying suppliers and, and trying to manage that.

Holly Watson:

So, you know, knowing you've make a certain amount of sales,

Holly Watson:

but you need to pay them.

Holly Watson:

And I think for us, the stress of that whilst running the cafe was, was quite

Holly Watson:

intense and, and it just meant we weren't always on top of, you know, when customers

Holly Watson:

were asking for stuff, we weren't even able to sometimes afford to buy something

Holly Watson:

in just to see if it was gonna sell.

Holly Watson:

Um, so we kind of looked back on there used to be a popup or Support Local in

Holly Watson:

Tunbridge Wells, who's run by, um, a girl called Hope who has moved to Cornwall now.

Holly Watson:

But, um, I remember shopping in her space.

Holly Watson:

She ran kind of over Christmas and I spoke to her because me and Lottie

Holly Watson:

had both said, you know, Ideally, what we want is to support local brands.

Holly Watson:

We want to support people, designers, makers, people who don't have a

Holly Watson:

shop on the Pantiles um, and see how we can get them into the shop.

Holly Watson:

But obviously most of them work on the wholesale model or, or buy

Holly Watson:

a return potentially that they're the kind of two main options.

Holly Watson:

But instead we looked into the popup model, which is essentially

Holly Watson:

making your space quite unified.

Holly Watson:

So, you know, having.

Holly Watson:

Because we've never with zero waste stuff.

Holly Watson:

Everything's always been upcycled.

Holly Watson:

Our shelves we're here.

Holly Watson:

Would've figured with this.

Holly Watson:

Nothing was the same.

Holly Watson:

So it was a bit of a change for us, but we essentially invested in

Holly Watson:

lots of kind of uniform shelving and uniform table displays.

Holly Watson:

And basically we decided to contact many local, smaller brands, um,

Holly Watson:

makers, people who, but they also had to have an ethical or sustainable

Holly Watson:

you know, platform, I guess.

Holly Watson:

And the idea was that we rented our space to them and gave them an opportunity to

Holly Watson:

have products in a shop somewhere on the Pantiles, because we get a lot of tourist

Holly Watson:

trade as well, and also the cafe trade.

Holly Watson:

So trying to create reason for people to come into the shop

Holly Watson:

area and see something new.

Holly Watson:

Um, and we were really lucky because we managed to find, I think it.

Holly Watson:

Eight or nine brands when we first launched, who kind of just took a

Holly Watson:

bit of chance on us and said, okay, yeah, we'll, we'll give this a go.

Holly Watson:

And basically we've created this Emporium now that has, I think last count.

Holly Watson:

I think we've got like 18 brands in there at the moment, and we're still growing,

Holly Watson:

still looking for new brands, but the idea is that rent a shelf from us.

Holly Watson:

And it's just a flat fee that they pay on a weekly basis and

Holly Watson:

everything they make is their own.

Holly Watson:

And it was really important to us that we didn't even want to handle the kind

Holly Watson:

of financial transactions or anything.

Holly Watson:

So they get their money directly.

Holly Watson:

So sellers literally have their own, um, profiles on our till system and

Holly Watson:

whatever they sell the money goes directly into their bank account.

Holly Watson:

And all we do is invoice for the shelf rental or table rental.

Holly Watson:

Um, And it's been working really well.

Holly Watson:

So we're kind of in month two, nearly three.

Holly Watson:

Um, we, we offered, obviously, as we, as we started, we didn't, you know,

Holly Watson:

where we were gonna kind of go with it.

Holly Watson:

So we, you know, we, we offered some deals for people to kind of come in

Holly Watson:

and just see, but we only ever asked for a two week sign up just so that

Holly Watson:

people can see if it's for them.

Holly Watson:

And so far, we've got some incredible brands and I'm really proud of it

Holly Watson:

because it's so amazing for us to see people selling and it is selling people

Holly Watson:

are coming in and, and knowing that.

Holly Watson:

You know, we still learn because we, we have the shelf rental and that

Holly Watson:

that's, we don't have to have any more involvement than that, which

Holly Watson:

is great for us as business owners.

Holly Watson:

Um, and then people can swap in and out products as they want.

Holly Watson:

If they think something's gonna sell, if they wanna do promotions,

Holly Watson:

if they wanna do father's day things or Easter stuff, it means that

Holly Watson:

they have full autonomy over that.

Holly Watson:

And, you know, essentially they can see what is popular because we send them till

Holly Watson:

reports of what you know, have sold and they can make changes as appropriate.

Holly Watson:

So it's working really well.

Holly Watson:

And for the sellers who are currently in the Emporium, you know, they've

Holly Watson:

given us some really good feedback.

Holly Watson:

We promote them on Instagram and things as well, and they do the same.

Holly Watson:

And it's just the loveliest collaboration that I could have wished for.

Holly Watson:

And I still feel like we are kind of giving the community something

Holly Watson:

and actually the space means.

Holly Watson:

I like to sort of say, we're like an Ethical Oliver Bonas, so now you can come

Holly Watson:

in, you can treat yourself to something you can buy gifts, you can, you know,

Holly Watson:

grab something with almost like touristy.

Holly Watson:

There's like Tunbridge Wells themed stuff in there as well.

Holly Watson:

So it's, it's got a really beautiful mix, an eclectic mix, but mainly stuff that we

Holly Watson:

would never have been able to just kind of do an, a win, you know, a bit of a

Holly Watson:

whim back in the day on, on the old model.

Holly Watson:

So it means that we've allowed the space to become like really eclectic.

Holly Watson:

Support these incredible brands.

Holly Watson:

So it's, it's, I'm really proud of it.

Holly Watson:

And I'm really hoping that this is how we're gonna kind of move

Holly Watson:

forward with, with the Emporium.

Vicki Weinberg:

That sounds like a great model.

Vicki Weinberg:

And as you say, it benefits everyone from a customer's point of view, you're

Vicki Weinberg:

gonna find so many things that you might not find where you definitely wouldn't

Vicki Weinberg:

find in the high street, or, you know, if you went out to Royal Victoria Place,

Vicki Weinberg:

or even if you went online, it's just really cuz lots of people I think, want to

Vicki Weinberg:

shop local businesses, small businesses, and this just makes it really easy.

Holly Watson:

Well, this is the thing.

Holly Watson:

It's a bit like, you know, lots of people.

Holly Watson:

Shop on Etsy.

Holly Watson:

I mean, I, I do like when I think about buying small in a present,

Holly Watson:

I'll go on Etsy because I know at least it's benefiting a kind of a

Holly Watson:

small actual person, you know, who's designing someone or making something.

Holly Watson:

And I think the thing with Etsy though, is you don't always know how local they

Holly Watson:

are and you ended up buying something from Scotland or whatever, which is great.

Holly Watson:

Cause you're supporting your seller in Scotland.

Holly Watson:

But I think the feeling of being able to actually support.

Holly Watson:

Actual local businesses who can also come in and do meet the makers.

Holly Watson:

And that's another thing we offer, you know, they can come in at any time.

Holly Watson:

They can be there.

Holly Watson:

They can run workshops from the cafe in the evenings.

Holly Watson:

There's, we've kind of built it to be a real collaboration so that everybody wins,

Holly Watson:

you know, for us, we want more people coming into the Emporium we want to see.

Holly Watson:

We want the sellers to succeed.

Holly Watson:

So, you know, we have a member of staff in there that talks

Holly Watson:

about them and kind of is.

Holly Watson:

Really kind of clue up on all the sellers and what they do in their USPS.

Holly Watson:

And you know, whether they're a mom of two or you know, why

Holly Watson:

they created their business.

Holly Watson:

So we, we have all of that information so that when customers come in, we can.

Holly Watson:

Shout about all the brands.

Holly Watson:

And I love the fact that there are so many quirky things that we've never

Holly Watson:

been able to have before, but that they all still tick the sustainable model.

Holly Watson:

You know, like every brand that we have, they don't use plastic.

Holly Watson:

Most of them have some kind of either recycled packaging or they've considered,

Holly Watson:

you know, that it's an organic cotton cause we sell clothing and there's

Holly Watson:

just so many different things.

Holly Watson:

There's beautiful candles.

Holly Watson:

And.

Holly Watson:

Products that you really just kind of know, like you can

Holly Watson:

feel really good about buying.

Holly Watson:

And that for me is like, that's a real win and it's, it's really showing because

Holly Watson:

people are coming in and they are buying.

Holly Watson:

So it's, it's really nice to, to sort of have the support of our community,

Holly Watson:

but also be supporting other brands.

Holly Watson:

Yeah, I think that's all, I think it's all really nice as you say, it's a

Holly Watson:

business model that works for everyone.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I know at the moment you are looking for local sellers,

Vicki Weinberg:

but do you have any plans to do something similar anywhere else?

Holly Watson:

Yeah, I think one of the things we kind of realized is that.

Holly Watson:

The whole zero waste ethos that is so ingrained in myself and

Holly Watson:

Lottie, it's not going anywhere.

Holly Watson:

And so we kind of thought, well, okay, just because the actual, the

Holly Watson:

traditional zero waste model, refill side of things hasn't worked for

Holly Watson:

us doesn't mean that we can't still do something within that space.

Holly Watson:

And I feel like the ethical Emporium is that I feel like it's a really

Holly Watson:

good alternative to essentially what we were trying to do before.

Holly Watson:

So me and Lottie at the moment, Kind of exploring the idea of creating ethical

Holly Watson:

emporiums elsewhere in Kent and finding other locations and continuing this kind

Holly Watson:

of popup model, um, in other spaces, because there are a lot of empty units in

Holly Watson:

so many towns now and on high streets and things that could potentially be utilized.

Holly Watson:

So our next step is to contact, you know, local agents in sort of various

Holly Watson:

different towns and see whether.

Holly Watson:

This is viable, you know, to even work on a pop-up basis for maybe only, you know,

Holly Watson:

a couple of months or three months, um, to just create a platform for sellers in

Holly Watson:

that space, in that area, in that region to, I guess, not launch their brands,

Holly Watson:

but give them an opportunity that doesn't require them to be setting up at market on

Holly Watson:

a weekly basis, cuz that, you know, a lot of smaller brands, that's what they do.

Holly Watson:

They're they're slogging it out all the time.

Holly Watson:

Creating setting up a store being there for eight hours and then leaving.

Holly Watson:

And, and that's kind of their only way of, I guess, having a physical space to sell.

Holly Watson:

So if we were to, to be able to kind of enable that for brands, even for a

Holly Watson:

kind of three month period, it would hopefully be really beneficial because,

Holly Watson:

you know, we are essentially filling an empty unit potentially, and landlords

Holly Watson:

are desperate to have anything right now, you know, until they can get a.

Holly Watson:

Sort of permanent, you know, next sort of person in.

Holly Watson:

Um, but it would also mean that, you know, you're taking away the stress of having to

Holly Watson:

man a stall or, you know, give your time the whole time, because obviously it would

Holly Watson:

be something we would hopefully be able to cover with staffing and things, our end.

Holly Watson:

And so to, I guess it's like creating a mobile ethical Emporium, um, But

Holly Watson:

on a pop-up basis in, in other local towns and just seeing whether that is

Holly Watson:

something that's viable and whether that's something people support.

Holly Watson:

So it's still very early stages, but it's definitely something we wanna look into.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think that's a really great idea.

Vicki Weinberg:

And especially as when you talk about doing markets, I think a lot

Vicki Weinberg:

of products do sell really well when people can see them touch them.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, it can be personally, I have back when I was said in my products that I sold

Vicki Weinberg:

really well when people could actually pick them up and touch them and yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, but it's really hard to have that opportunity.

Vicki Weinberg:

Cause as you say, you have to go to a market, you have to pay for that pitch.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I know.

Vicki Weinberg:

Your model involves people paying for a space, but actually there's a lot

Vicki Weinberg:

more involved in paying for a pitch and decorating a space and filling it up

Holly Watson:

and set up on the same day as well that the kind of getting there

Holly Watson:

early, getting it all set up and then getting it all down again and you know,

Holly Watson:

all weathers and that kind of thing.

Holly Watson:

There's a lot of other factors and also a lot of brands, you

Holly Watson:

know, people work alongside.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Holly Watson:

You know, these are still kind of, you know, smaller brands where it's, it's kind

Holly Watson:

of from the kitchen table essentially.

Holly Watson:

And.

Holly Watson:

It just offers a bit of a, I guess it's a more convenient way for sellers to

Holly Watson:

try and get their brands out there.

Holly Watson:

And, you know, for us, again, just that the minimum sign up only being

Holly Watson:

two weeks is it's, it's pretty much just, it gives them an opportunity to

Holly Watson:

see whether it's even worth their time.

Holly Watson:

And most people will take that small risk to see whether something

Holly Watson:

could really benefit them.

Holly Watson:

And, you know, for us, just in our Emporium, it's.

Holly Watson:

I'd say at the moment we've got a 70% retention rate,

Holly Watson:

which I think is pretty good.

Holly Watson:

We know that not every product is going to sell.

Holly Watson:

Sometimes it just is about the demographic.

Holly Watson:

Sometimes it's about the, the product itself or how, you know,

Holly Watson:

it, some, some things do sell better online, funnily enough.

Holly Watson:

But I think you're right.

Holly Watson:

I think someone can actually physically see something.

Holly Watson:

And also, I think.

Holly Watson:

Being able to go back to something is quite interesting.

Holly Watson:

So if you see something in market and you go home, you go, oh, I should.

Holly Watson:

I bought that now.

Holly Watson:

Like it gives consumers the opportunity to come back and go, I really like that

Holly Watson:

actually, do you know what I'm gonna go back and get that candle, or I'm gonna

Holly Watson:

go back and get that scarf or whatever.

Holly Watson:

Um, knowing that it's gonna be there, you know?

Holly Watson:

And that's, that's the thing about having a physical bricks and

Holly Watson:

mortar is that essentially you are tying yourself to a premises for

Holly Watson:

a certain amount of time and, and.

Holly Watson:

Gives customers a window as well to kind of have a think and return, rather than

Holly Watson:

that impulsive, I've gotta get it because I'm not gonna see it again, type thing.

Holly Watson:

So it's got, yeah, it's kind of, I guess there's two modes.

Holly Watson:

Like sometimes that's a good thing for markets because if they think

Holly Watson:

they're not gonna be able to get it again, they'll get it right there.

Holly Watson:

But from a kind of normal consumer sort of buying habits, people like to sort of

Holly Watson:

look at things seven times asked across their mind before they really consider it.

Holly Watson:

So it's.

Holly Watson:

Allowing for that?

Holly Watson:

I think so.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Holly Watson:

I'd really like to think it, it it's got legs.

Holly Watson:

We'll see.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think so.

Vicki Weinberg:

Cause love advantage I can see for sellers is it gives you a chance to sell, uh,

Vicki Weinberg:

to check, to test as well to test okay.

Vicki Weinberg:

If I put these two products on a table, which one sells the most or especially

Vicki Weinberg:

for some, and I know this isn't.

Vicki Weinberg:

The the aim, but if there were sellers who were thinking one day, I'd like

Vicki Weinberg:

to be stocked in, I dunno, Oliver Bonas or wherever, it gives them an

Vicki Weinberg:

opportunity to say, okay, when people see my products on a shelf with

Vicki Weinberg:

other products, Do they pick them up?

Vicki Weinberg:

Do they buy them?

Vicki Weinberg:

What do they think about them?

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, I just think that's really good opportunity as well, to see how will

Vicki Weinberg:

your product sales in retail get some data without spending a load of

Vicki Weinberg:

money or taking a really big risk?

Holly Watson:

Yeah, absolutely.

Holly Watson:

And it's a lot of, it requires a lot of effort as well to, to

Holly Watson:

get into any big round, you know, like to be stocked in somewhere.

Holly Watson:

Everyone's dreams like be stock in Harvey Nicholls or Harrods or

Holly Watson:

whatever, but to actually get to that point is incredibly difficult.

Holly Watson:

Um, yeah, you often end up getting into the slightly longer, um, invoice

Holly Watson:

terms and things as well, because that's what the, those brands can do

Holly Watson:

because they they've got that power.

Holly Watson:

And so it kind of removes some of that and it actually keeps it on that local level

Holly Watson:

and that community level that I think.

Holly Watson:

People after COVID are wanting more of, you know, they are wanting to,

Holly Watson:

they, they are sort of realizing what's important and, you know, spending time

Holly Watson:

with people and, and having access to things like, you know, being able to go

Holly Watson:

to the shops with your family or whatever.

Holly Watson:

It's it's almost like that's kind of a positive from COVID, but I

Holly Watson:

think, you know, the supporting local thing does seem to have helped.

Holly Watson:

So obviously for us, it wasn't necessarily, I think it was just

Holly Watson:

too much to support local and change your shopping habits.

Holly Watson:

So it's like on either or.

Holly Watson:

So this is a good compromise and it allows people to feel good about their

Holly Watson:

shopping choices, which, you know, it's, it's funny, but it it's a very

Holly Watson:

psychological thing shopping and.

Holly Watson:

I think women more than men consider it more in terms of what they're buying

Holly Watson:

and, and how it affects anything other than just, I like that I'm buying it.

Holly Watson:

Um, so I've definitely noticed, you know, we we've got repeat customers now

Holly Watson:

who say they don't go anywhere else.

Holly Watson:

Now that they know that we've got the Emporium, they just come

Holly Watson:

to us whenever they want a gift.

Holly Watson:

And that's, that's really nice because it's only been a couple of months and

Holly Watson:

we've started to get that now, then I'm looking at how that could possibly grow.

Holly Watson:

It's, you know, I'm, I'm hoping it is as positive as I think it's

Holly Watson:

. Vicki Weinberg: I think it's,

Holly Watson:

nobody loses in this situation.

Holly Watson:

I just think there's just positives for everyone, which is really good because

Holly Watson:

there aren't many things in life actually, where it's all positive for everyone.

Holly Watson:

So, yeah.

Holly Watson:

Yeah, yeah.

Holly Watson:

Especially at the moment.

Holly Watson:

It's yeah.

Holly Watson:

It's I think people need something to kind of make them feel good

Holly Watson:

and, you know, It's hard to have a small business at the moment.

Holly Watson:

It's hard to get your product out there.

Holly Watson:

It's hard to get people to, you know, consider spending on luxuries

Holly Watson:

now with everything that's going on.

Holly Watson:

Um, you know, with all the cost of living crisis and everything, I think

Holly Watson:

people are tightening their belts.

Holly Watson:

And so they're, they're taking longer to make a bigger purchase or, you know,

Holly Watson:

or they're, they're really thinking more about, do I really want, this?

Holly Watson:

Is this the right thing for me before they buy it?

Holly Watson:

So it gives an opportunity, I guess, to put that forward and, and know that

Holly Watson:

you're doing the right thing, because you know, it's so much nicer to be

Holly Watson:

able to give someone a gift that you you've bought from somebody local.

Holly Watson:

And you can tell a little story about cuz for us, the brand

Holly Watson:

stories are really important.

Holly Watson:

Um, rather than just grabbing something from, I don't know, John Lewis, so

Holly Watson:

and given them that, you know, I think the personal side of things is

Holly Watson:

much more important to people now.

Holly Watson:

So, and it's what brands, you know, really, I guess, from, I come from a

Holly Watson:

marketing and social media background.

Holly Watson:

So I'm quite lucky in the sense of my experience is understanding what makes

Holly Watson:

people stop and, and stop scrolling or engage in a post for example.

Holly Watson:

And it's the same thing with products.

Holly Watson:

It's.

Holly Watson:

Knowing that your personal story and, and something is an identifier.

Holly Watson:

If someone can identify with you, they're more likely buy into you.

Holly Watson:

So it's that, but on a biggest.

Vicki Weinberg:

That makes sense.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

And let's, um, keep an eye on the of time for your, for you Holly.

Vicki Weinberg:

But before we finish, I would love to talk about your own products as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I know you mentioned this again, this is fair, something fairly new,

Vicki Weinberg:

but, um, yes, I know you've been elling your own brand of candles.

Vicki Weinberg:

So do you want to talk a bit about how this came about how you've created

Vicki Weinberg:

them and, and how that fits in?

Vicki Weinberg:

Because let's face it, you've got a lot going on.

Holly Watson:

I have got a lot going on.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Holly Watson:

Um, The thing before we kind of really decided to change the model to the

Holly Watson:

ethical Emporium, we'd already decided that the retail model wasn't working

Holly Watson:

for us because it's that middleman thing of, you know, buying from this person,

Holly Watson:

they have to make a profit margin and then totally you, and, you know, so I

Holly Watson:

looked at initially just looking at.

Holly Watson:

The kind of products that we knew sold well.

Holly Watson:

So for us, the homeware stuff was actually selling really well in the shop.

Holly Watson:

So I wanted to look into making my own candles, which I used to do years ago

Holly Watson:

and just hadn't ever considered selling.

Holly Watson:

I just did it kind of as a nice hobby.

Holly Watson:

Um, so I started looking into potentially what I would buy if I was going to

Holly Watson:

buy a candle for somebody or for myself, um, And did quite a lot of

Holly Watson:

research just based on, you know, the most ethical sourced, you know, wax

Holly Watson:

and fragrances and Ws and everything.

Holly Watson:

It's like, it is a minefield, you know?

Holly Watson:

Um, but I'm very creative and I do like to have a creative outlets.

Holly Watson:

So for me, I was I'll come out actually, what I'll just, I'll just trial some I'll

Holly Watson:

just trial some and I'll see how it goes.

Holly Watson:

Um, so initially it was just a case of, I started trying to essential oil.

Holly Watson:

Which is actually really hard to do.

Holly Watson:

So hat off to anyone who sells essential candles because to

Holly Watson:

get the right scent through.

Holly Watson:

But also there's a lot of there there's like labeling and legal requirements

Holly Watson:

that you have to have with like all of the different, you know, sort of

Holly Watson:

everything, warning labels, all of it.

Holly Watson:

And I was a bit like, do you know what I.

Holly Watson:

I don't wanna go down that route.

Holly Watson:

So instead I tried to find the most ethical non-toxic, um, fragrance

Holly Watson:

oil suppliers, which I did find, um, and then created some candles

Holly Watson:

just off fragrances of that.

Holly Watson:

I loved, um, I created a brand that is separate to zero because essentially

Holly Watson:

it's, it was like a separate entity.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, But also because I mean, I come from like a branding

Vicki Weinberg:

background, so I sort of understand the importance of having the brand

Vicki Weinberg:

story and it being different to, you know, people think of zero.

Vicki Weinberg:

They think of the cafe and the pan towels.

Vicki Weinberg:

And obviously that's not what I wanted for something I was making.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, um, the brand is called Wander and Wild and the way that the sense I've

Vicki Weinberg:

created work are there are Wander sense.

Vicki Weinberg:

And they're a wild sense.

Vicki Weinberg:

So the wonder sense are the ones that evoke, um, Memories of places that

Vicki Weinberg:

you've been or traveled or want to go to.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, um, this one called , which is, you know, like coconuts and

Vicki Weinberg:

it's not, it's not too tropical.

Vicki Weinberg:

There's, there's kind of hints of bergamot on things in there

Vicki Weinberg:

as well, give a bit of a depth.

Vicki Weinberg:

But the idea is that you've got kind of places and then you've got the world,

Vicki Weinberg:

which is more the botanical scents.

Vicki Weinberg:

So I've got one called Wonderland, which is like Soka, Turkish,

Vicki Weinberg:

rose, and geranium scent.

Vicki Weinberg:

So.

Vicki Weinberg:

Essentially the branding for me was having two things, which are really

Vicki Weinberg:

important to me, which is kind of traveling and having experiences.

Vicki Weinberg:

I don't, I tend not to buy material things.

Vicki Weinberg:

I spend time in places and if I'm gonna spend on anything, it'll

Vicki Weinberg:

be a holiday or a trip somewhere.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, so I suppose like that for me was really important

Vicki Weinberg:

that I actually could evoke.

Vicki Weinberg:

Cause I think scent is really important.

Vicki Weinberg:

Can it's a bit like music.

Vicki Weinberg:

It.

Vicki Weinberg:

Take you somewhere immediately, like, you know, a sense of like fresh bread and

Vicki Weinberg:

it reminds you of walking past the cafe when you were in France four years ago.

Vicki Weinberg:

You know, that kind of thing was what I wanted to try and evoke.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, um, so I created, I think we've got six scented candles now

Vicki Weinberg:

and they're all made with, um, organic, a hundred percent soy wax.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, Um, organic cotton wicks as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, and yeah, basically they are in the important at the moment.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, although I say that I have definitely not made very many recently cause

Vicki Weinberg:

I've been really busy and I've been on holiday, so I need to make some more.

Vicki Weinberg:

But, um, yeah, so I have, I have, I think six fragrances at the moment

Vicki Weinberg:

and, um, it's just given me like a bit of artistic free reign that I.

Vicki Weinberg:

Get so much anymore.

Vicki Weinberg:

Cuz I like being creative and I like, you know, I, I love doing branding

Vicki Weinberg:

and creating that side of things.

Vicki Weinberg:

So like design, even designing the labels and things.

Vicki Weinberg:

I really found joy in.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, but they've uh, yeah, they've been.

Vicki Weinberg:

Selling quite well.

Vicki Weinberg:

I find it really hard to talk about my own photos.

Vicki Weinberg:

I'm like, yeah, they're really good.

Vicki Weinberg:

that's really good.

Vicki Weinberg:

It's really good.

Vicki Weinberg:

They've been selling well as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, cause it sounds like, you know, it's something you did almost not.

Vicki Weinberg:

I know you, I know it's a business, but it also sounds like something you're

Vicki Weinberg:

getting a lot of joy from as well.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Holly Watson:

I just really loved, I like experimenting and I liked finding, you know, God,

Holly Watson:

I went through so many fragrances before I decided on the ones that I

Holly Watson:

really liked and was testing them and getting the girls at work to kind.

Holly Watson:

Tell me which ones were their favorites and, you know, it's, it's just nice

Holly Watson:

because it's something different.

Holly Watson:

And, and I don't really see it as like a money maker at the moment.

Holly Watson:

It is, it was more just a kind of.

Holly Watson:

Can I do this, can it compete with other people's brands?

Holly Watson:

And so far it can, which is great.

Holly Watson:

Um, but it's something it does require time.

Holly Watson:

And I don't have a lot of that at the moment.

Holly Watson:

So it's not, I'm not necessarily kind of gunning for this to be the new big

Holly Watson:

brand of, of zero, whatever, but it is nice to know that it's something

Holly Watson:

I can do when I've got some time.

Holly Watson:

I'll make more and make sure that I can get this on the.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I think that is, like you said, that's a really nice way of looking at it that if

Vicki Weinberg:

you've got time and you can make some, and you can get them up in, in the shop then.

Vicki Weinberg:

Great.

Vicki Weinberg:

But it's not like your business is not like your key focus and no, exactly.

Vicki Weinberg:

It doesn't have to be making you money.

Holly Watson:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, it's just a nice to have at the moment.

Holly Watson:

And you know, if it.

Holly Watson:

Became more popular or more in demand than I'd give it more time.

Holly Watson:

But at the moment, I just, just think it's one of those things.

Holly Watson:

I just wanted to see if I could do it.

Holly Watson:

And now I've, you know, essentially got everything.

Holly Watson:

So when I do have time, I now can just spend it up of time creating

Holly Watson:

some candles and, and it is, it's a very, I find it really therapeutic.

Holly Watson:

Lottie finds it really boring.

Holly Watson:

It's quite funny.

Holly Watson:

She's like wanna make candles, I wanna make candles.

Holly Watson:

And then she was like, oh yeah, no, I don't really wanna make candles.

Holly Watson:

some candles.

Holly Watson:

And then she was like, oh, I didn't it like this that's we differ.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Holly Watson:

I really enjoy like making something, you know, the whole process.

Holly Watson:

I, I like.

Holly Watson:

That's brilliant.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I've got, well, I've actually got two more questions.

Vicki Weinberg:

So I've just thought of another one as you reference Lottie then, which

Vicki Weinberg:

I hope you don't mind me asking.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, but what I'm just really curious actually is to how you find running

Vicki Weinberg:

a business, you know, as a pair.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, you know, your business partners, um, because lots of my guests have been

Vicki Weinberg:

solos and running their businesses by themselves and making order decisions.

Vicki Weinberg:

Do you have any thoughts or advice for, you know, how to run a business

Vicki Weinberg:

with a friend and yeah, stay friends.

Holly Watson:

Yeah to, to know the funny thing is I think everybody who

Holly Watson:

meets us just has this assumption that me and Lottie are like lifelong friends

Holly Watson:

that we've known each other for years.

Holly Watson:

And then we decided to come up with this.

Holly Watson:

But actually we met in, uh, like January, 2019, and we

Holly Watson:

opened zero in November, 2019.

Holly Watson:

So we became business partners like what we became friends, but it, we weren't

Holly Watson:

people who'd known each other for years.

Holly Watson:

And I think actually that's been really helpful.

Holly Watson:

Um, I don't know if I could do this with a best friend, you know, somebody

Holly Watson:

who knows me inside out back to front, all my flaws, all of that, you

Holly Watson:

know, it's actually really nice to.

Holly Watson:

I think I'm very lucky, me and lucky me and Lottie met and immediately connected.

Holly Watson:

Um, neither of us can really understand why.

Holly Watson:

And, you know, there are those things where people say it's like,

Holly Watson:

it was meant to be, it does feel like it was meant to be because.

Holly Watson:

We just got each other within like a day.

Holly Watson:

And we met because we both had babies the same age and we're

Holly Watson:

trying to find childcare options because we were freelancers.

Holly Watson:

And we were like, we could maybe look after each other's kids

Holly Watson:

while we're trying to work.

Holly Watson:

And that's kind of how we started.

Holly Watson:

Um, and then we found out that our boys were born a day apart and I had a

Holly Watson:

scheduled C-section and then I was bumped because of an emergency to the next day.

Holly Watson:

And Lottie was the emergency.

Holly Watson:

So we didn't even know each other then.

Holly Watson:

Um, and then met eight months later and then found out that we had kind of had

Holly Watson:

this crazy story where actually, you know, she essentially took my C-sections

Holly Watson:

slot, which is fine but that's kind of, it is a funny thing to kind of realize.

Holly Watson:

And then off the back of that, we just, I don't know, we both just were like,

Holly Watson:

we just wanna do something together.

Holly Watson:

And we were, we were writing business plans within three weeks of being

Holly Watson:

kind of having met essentially.

Holly Watson:

But I think for.

Holly Watson:

Our biggest pro is that we have very different skill sets.

Holly Watson:

Um, and we are very lucky because somehow we've managed to find polar opposites.

Holly Watson:

So Lotti does all of our finances, VA returns, tax stuff, HR contracts,

Holly Watson:

like she's all over legal staff.

Holly Watson:

She.

Holly Watson:

Everything about EHO like regulations, all of that, like food hygiene.

Holly Watson:

She does all of that.

Holly Watson:

She literally keeps a handle on how, like making sure that we are functioning

Holly Watson:

legally and properly, um, And she's just incredible, like with a spreadsheet,

Holly Watson:

she can knock a spreadsheet up and smash it out in like 30 minutes.

Holly Watson:

And I, I could do the same, but it would take me a whole day, you

Holly Watson:

know, like I just don't have that.

Holly Watson:

She's, it's almost like she's got a numbers, brain and everything.

Holly Watson:

She's just like right.

Holly Watson:

Done.

Holly Watson:

And I'm like, uh, okay.

Holly Watson:

Whereas I'm.

Holly Watson:

Very creative.

Holly Watson:

I come from marketing, social media, branding backgrounds.

Holly Watson:

So the aesthetics and the kind of brand and what zero looks like is more me.

Holly Watson:

Um, and I do all of our social media and our website.

Holly Watson:

And I'm also more operational, although that's slightly by accent.

Holly Watson:

Cause Lottie decided to have another baby.

Holly Watson:

I was like, don't have a baby in the first year then she did, but but so

Holly Watson:

she was kind of a little bit out, like during that whole kind of COVID era, um,

Holly Watson:

You know, she had a little baby, so I, I tended to be more operational in the shop

Holly Watson:

and then she was more behind the scenes.

Holly Watson:

So it worked really well.

Holly Watson:

And the thing is obviously, like, I don't think we've ever argued.

Holly Watson:

We would disagree on things.

Holly Watson:

And you know, I'll tell her that she's nuts about various things.

Holly Watson:

Cuz she does come up with some crazy ass ideas that I'm like, what are you doing?

Holly Watson:

But I'm like a bit of a voice of reason.

Holly Watson:

And then somehow we managed to find middle ground that works.

Holly Watson:

So.

Holly Watson:

But we are very similar.

Holly Watson:

We're both quite impulsive.

Holly Watson:

And I say we're both quite adaptable.

Holly Watson:

So that's been a real pro for us.

Holly Watson:

Um, but I think communication, that's probably our biggest thing.

Holly Watson:

We talk all the time.

Holly Watson:

And so our husband's annoyance, you know, I'm constantly on my phone and

Holly Watson:

I think anyone who runs a business knows, even if you run it on your

Holly Watson:

own, you're constantly working.

Holly Watson:

It's very hard to switch off and be very disciplined about doing so.

Holly Watson:

And I'm not disciplined and nor she . So we're a nightmare.

Holly Watson:

It'll be like 10 o'clock at night.

Holly Watson:

I've just had a thought.

Holly Watson:

And like, you know, my husband's just like, why are you still on your phone?

Holly Watson:

Are you working?

Holly Watson:

And I'm like, no, no, I'm not.

Holly Watson:

Um, but I guess the fact that we communicate all the time means

Holly Watson:

we both always on the same page and, and that's really important.

Holly Watson:

I think if you don't communicate, that's the like, or if you don't

Holly Watson:

say if something is bothering you or if you're unhappy about something

Holly Watson:

that's like beginning of the end, it.

Holly Watson:

For us.

Holly Watson:

We've always said that if we're unhappy about something or we think

Holly Watson:

something is changing, we, we talk about it immediately and it's been a

Holly Watson:

massive difference for how we work.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really useful.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I think as well, something else I tick from what you've just

Vicki Weinberg:

been saying is that I also think it's probably a bonus that you both

Vicki Weinberg:

have really clearly defined roles.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I can imagine it would be hard if you were both trying to manage your

Vicki Weinberg:

Instagram account or you both wanted to, you know, do or had, or strong views.

Vicki Weinberg:

Something, um, it must make things a lot easier when you sort of know,

Vicki Weinberg:

okay, you do this and I do that.

Vicki Weinberg:

And of course we talk and discuss, but, um, that must really help as well.

Holly Watson:

Yeah.

Holly Watson:

It's funny.

Holly Watson:

I, we kind of never initially set out our job roles, but it just was so clear from

Holly Watson:

the beginning, you know, I designed stuff.

Holly Watson:

So anything design based, whether it's menus, website, Instagram, anything.

Holly Watson:

Even like coming down to like how we decorate the shop.

Holly Watson:

That's very much me and Lottie's really happy to be led on that, which is

Holly Watson:

great because I have such strong ideas.

Holly Watson:

So I find it really difficult if, if somebody else was like, I wanna do this,

Holly Watson:

I'd be like, no, no, we're not doing it like that, but she's so kind of chill.

Holly Watson:

She's like, yeah, fine.

Holly Watson:

Do whatever I trust you.

Holly Watson:

And I think I trust her to do, like, I never ask about finances, really.

Holly Watson:

I hate finding out about the finances side of things.

Holly Watson:

I'm like, oh, it's really stressful.

Holly Watson:

Um, so we've sort of naturally just got our strengths and it works really well,

Holly Watson:

but I, yeah, I, I think you're right.

Holly Watson:

I think if we ever were to sort of cross over which, you know, there's been a

Holly Watson:

couple of things, one we've both sort of almost accidentally started doing the same

Holly Watson:

thing, but it becomes clear quite quickly, who is probably best suited to that task.

Holly Watson:

And then.

Holly Watson:

Either.

Holly Watson:

So, yeah, I think that, and communicating is probably the biggest thing for us.

Vicki Weinberg:

Definitely.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I know I did throw that question at you, but as we were talking,

Vicki Weinberg:

obviously Lottie came up so much.

Vicki Weinberg:

I thought actually that would be good to talk about.

Vicki Weinberg:

So I only have one more question now you'll be pleased to know probably

Vicki Weinberg:

, which is what is your number one tip for small product businesses.

Vicki Weinberg:

What's one thing you'd like people to take.

Holly Watson:

I think so because I come from marketing and social media, it it's

Holly Watson:

kind of ingrained into me that that is one of your biggest platforms of promotion.

Holly Watson:

So obviously it's not the only one, but we do live in a very online world now.

Holly Watson:

So having your brand on social media platforms and having a website are kind

Holly Watson:

of, I think your two most important factors of running a business, if you

Holly Watson:

like, but from a kind of personal level.

Holly Watson:

If you're trying to sell a product, um, the very best way you can do that

Holly Watson:

is to actually not actively sell it, but talk about anything that would,

Holly Watson:

I guess, be relatable to a consumer.

Holly Watson:

So if you, if you're selling a candle and you put a picture of a candle on your

Holly Watson:

Instagram, even if it's the most beautiful candle and picture you've ever seen.

Holly Watson:

It's probably gonna get a bit of a kind of a token, like, you know,

Holly Watson:

rarely is someone going to comment or engage in a post like that.

Holly Watson:

If you put a picture of your child holding that candle, your engagement will double.

Holly Watson:

If you put a picture of a dog with your candle, it'll triple, there is

Holly Watson:

something about people, pets, babies.

Holly Watson:

It's an immediate relatable factor for people and it makes them stop.

Holly Watson:

So I always say to people when I'm like, when I used to do their social media for

Holly Watson:

them, I was like, I need photos of you.

Holly Watson:

And they're like, what?

Holly Watson:

No, I don't wanna be in pictures.

Holly Watson:

And I was like, you need to be in pictures.

Holly Watson:

Your notice is a small business every post that has an about you, a kind of.

Holly Watson:

Even a look, what I've been doing today, and that you're sitting in the,

Holly Watson:

in the sunshine drinking a smoothie that has nothing to do with selling

Holly Watson:

candles that will guarantee get more engagement and more people wanting

Holly Watson:

to find out about you and what you do than a picture of your candle.

Holly Watson:

So if anything it's that people sell, not products.

Holly Watson:

People will always.

Holly Watson:

Be the one defining factor that make you either choose to buy or not buy.

Holly Watson:

So if you can relate to somebody and even if it's a picture of them with their

Holly Watson:

three children on the sofa, and you are calling it a duo day or whatever, those

Holly Watson:

kind of honest posts on a business page.

Holly Watson:

People are always really frightened to do.

Holly Watson:

Cause they're like, it's, it's not the brand, it's not the brand, but

Holly Watson:

actually it is the brand because everything that you are is your brand,

Holly Watson:

especially if you are a single kind of, you know, designer maker of some sort.

Holly Watson:

So that's my kind of biggest tip is that actually never underestimate the power

Holly Watson:

of yourself and, and what you give to it because people wanna find out about you.

Holly Watson:

They don't really care either way what's sent your candle is sometimes

Holly Watson:

it's more about if they can see that.

Holly Watson:

Have some, a similarity to them and they can relate to you.

Holly Watson:

They're more likely to buy from you.

Holly Watson:

So that's, I guess it's more of a marketing tip, but it really works.

Holly Watson:

And I would say to everyone, just do it, just do a, just do a photo you

Holly Watson:

and tell me if you get more engagement and they always come back and they're

Holly Watson:

like, yeah, I got more engagement.

Holly Watson:

And that's what you need.

Holly Watson:

You need more engagement from followers on social media because they

Holly Watson:

will eventually convert into sales.

Holly Watson:

So it is a long game with marketing, but that that's my biggest thing is that

Holly Watson:

people fell so put a baby in there.

Holly Watson:

You'll be, you'll be fine.

Vicki Weinberg:

that's really good advice.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you I do really like that.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I can see, I can see what you mean because yeah, I definitely

Vicki Weinberg:

personally S scroll past pictures.

Vicki Weinberg:

Products.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, because I mean, you might think you, like you say, you might give them

Vicki Weinberg:

a, like, if you think they look nice, but yeah, generally you want to, I don't know.

Vicki Weinberg:

You, you wanna find out something new.

Holly Watson:

That's been interesting and yeah.

Holly Watson:

Well, the other thing is videos.

Holly Watson:

A lot of people now have gotten down to the fact that videos are a key point and.

Holly Watson:

The only way that a video that would get more engagement than a person in

Holly Watson:

it is if you've got a product, like a skincare product or a scrub or something,

Holly Watson:

and you take like a slow mode of like it's S switching out onto a hand or

Holly Watson:

something, that's when you'll get someone and go, oh yeah, I wanna see that.

Holly Watson:

Because again, it's, it's, it's like a tactile thing.

Holly Watson:

It's something that they wanna touch or look at or smell.

Holly Watson:

Um, so if you can get that across in the video, that's B.

Holly Watson:

But yeah, even then you probably need a human hand in there.

Holly Watson:

Just just to identify with

Holly Watson:

. Vicki Weinberg: This is all great.

Holly Watson:

Holy, thank you.

Holly Watson:

thank you so much for everything you shared.

Holly Watson:

You've told us so much about your business.

Holly Watson:

I think it's really, yeah, it's just been really fascinating.

Holly Watson:

I'm so pleased I could get you on because I was really keen to talk

Holly Watson:

to you because as you say, you run.

Holly Watson:

Kind of free business as well.

Holly Watson:

At least two businesses.

Holly Watson:

Let's say

Holly Watson:

they freak me out.

Holly Watson:

If I think about it too much.

Vicki Weinberg:

I gotta leave it there then.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much for everything you share.

Holly Watson:

It's a pleasure.

Holly Watson:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much for listening right to the end

Vicki Weinberg:

of this episode, do remember that you can get the full back catalog

Vicki Weinberg:

and lots of free resources on my website, Vicky weinberg.com.

Vicki Weinberg:

Please do remember to rate and review this episode, if you've enjoyed

Vicki Weinberg:

it and also share it with a friend who you think might find it useful.

Holly Watson:

Thank you again and see you next week.