Years ago, I starting following a refill eco shop in Canada because I just loved the concept. In November, I read about one that opened about 30 minutes away from my home. I voiced my interest on social media about the idea of starting one on and some community business owners reached out. They said they loved the idea and wished we had one here in our community. One of them sent me the link to Launch1000. When I got accepted to the program I was super excited.
When I got into Phase 1, I immediately loved it. It’s fun to write about yourself and dig deep. The only thing that was challenging was, as a mother, my identity had been wrapped up in my family. Getting back to me and what’s important to me was a challenge. Is it me as a 20-year-old? As a 30 something year old? No, it’s me as a 40 something year old where I have a different perspective and my core values are even more pronounced as I think about the future and my children. A lot of times in business you have to think about money and what’s going to get you through the day, but Phase 1 was a special chance to think about what really matters and what’s important to my fulfillment.
Connecting with everybody in the program has been a bonus. I’ve spoken with so many incredible people in Launch1000 and I’ve had something to learn from every single person. And I’ve helped a lot of other launchers by lending my perspective as well. Everybody puts forth so much energy and passion. The program workshops have also been great. Pam pushes everyone in the most positive way. She frames things to make you think. You’re also hearing from the other launchers and seeing their examples. Being a part of that live interaction is what makes it special.
It’s important to be reminded that you don’t have all the answers. In Phase 2, I enjoyed reaching out and listening instead of presenting my solution. For my business, I think I have a solution, but it might not be for everyone. It’s a different way of shopping and doing things. Especially since it’s the first zero-waste refill shop in my area. I didn’t think a lot of people knew that shops like this exist or even are aware of the problem that it solves. But talking to people, I was surprised how many people were more aware of waste and sustainability they were saving containers or composting which was much more than I expected.
My curiosity conversations highlighted the importance of convenience for people. So I’m trying to think how I can make my shop mobile and as convenient as possible. I’m interested in the idea that post-covid people may enjoy being able to have more of the in-person community experience that a zero waste shop can provide.
In Phase 2, I started talking to others around the country who are already in my industry. One is a soapmaker who has been in business since 2010 and is very passionate and committed but was only breaking even because the high price of top notch ingredients is an obstacle. I was also able to speak with another eco refill shop in Queens, New York that just launched. Their lowest month of sales was still pretty incredible which was pretty encouraging for me. She’s in Queens which is a very densely populated area, but I even think she is blown away. I’m trying to connect with few New York eco shops there are to hopefully try to increase the volume we order and decrease costs. I wish there was an alliance of zero waste businesses countrywide where we could all work together instead of reinventing the wheel every time. Everyone’s very scrappy and trying to make a sustainable business. Speaking to others who have already carved a path for a similar concept in their community has been super helpful.
In Phase 3, Pam suggested I start thinking about how cosmetic counters in department stores worked. This made me wonder if storefront businesses have empty space and could host my products in their spaces. It’s an interesting idea that I’m excited to explore further.
Overall, I think Launch1000 has been so invaluable. I’ve had my own businesses in the past and I have a current photography business. But I never thought about a pain or a problem. I never thought I was trying to solve something, I just thought, “I like doing this, I’m going to do it.” But now I realize that can be risky. For example, if I’m investing in photography equipment or if I was making samples of things for my design business in the past, you never know if that solves someone’s problem until you go through this process. I am not sure most people do this and it’s something I’ll carry with me into all my endeavors.
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