It’s no doubt that ‘conscious living’ and ‘eco-friendly’ are hot topics at the moment. With the ban of plastic bags across supermarkets and stores in Australia, the topic of single use plastics is one you’ve undoubtedly come across in the media as well as social media. Brands are incorporating ethical practices into their businesses more and more these days and we’ve seen a rise of businesses selling products to make reusing and recycling easier for the consumer.
Recently I had a chat with Emily, the found of Kappi about her new business which revolves around minimising our environmental footprint and replacing plastics with stylish reusables.
For those who don't know you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
We’re a husband and wife team juggling a thriving small business, full-time study (Em) and an engineering career (Fred). Em has a background in retail operations and has now discovered a passion for health and well-being. She is a certified Yoga teacher and is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Sciences specialising in Naturopathy, with the goal of becoming a qualified naturopath. Fred is a structural engineer who spent way too long at uni, gets a little bit restless in the office environment and needs to be constantly reminded by Emily to focus on finishing the last ‘big idea’ he had before getting started on the next.
We live and breath the Kappi ethos and are wholly committed to living an authentic life of minimising our environmental footprint.
What inspired you to start Kappi and start working for yourself?
Kappi was born pretty much at the conclusion of episode one of the first season of ABC’s War on Waste. At the time we were midway through setting up a sustainably-sourced yoga goods company so we were starting to understand the basics behind supply logistics and the manufacturing process. At the end of that first episode we both looked at each other in shock, completely blown away by the true scale of the waste epidemic here in Australia, and decided then and there to do something about it. The next day we hit the ground running and Kappi was born.
The business wasn’t started solely with the intention of wanting to work for ourselves - it started as a side-project to try and fill the gap in the market for stylish, well designed alternatives to single-use plastic. Initially it was no more than a bit of fun. But since starting, it has grown from strength to strength and has started occupying a lot more of our time!
What advice would you give to those wanting to start their own product-based business?
Truly believe in your product. Running a small business is too hard not to believe in what you’re selling. Make sure your product is solving a problem or fulfilling a need rather than simply jumping on a short-lived trend. Trust us, it will make your lives easier in the long run.
What do you love most about running Kappi? And what do you find most challenging about running a small business?
I think when it comes down to it, we truly love and believe in the product range that we have developed. We especially love the reviews from satisfied customers. We get a huge rush everytime we receive a review from someone talking about how our products are helping them effortlessly reduce their reliance on single-use plastic.
The most challenging thing about running a small business is definitely the ever-present feeling of having to do everything yourself. In the early days, when cash flow is critical, it pays to do everything yourself. Thankfully, we’re getting to a stage now where we’re looking to offload some of the day-to-day admin tasks to be able to focus on growing the business. We’re only just delving into the world of VA’s and remote contractors, but the potential it has for streamlining our lives has us very excited!
For those who have always wanted to start a business but are not sure how to get around the logistics of manufacturing, production, etc - how did you learn this side of running a business?
We feel their pain! We were in their same position a year ago. Honestly, we just learnt by doing. We made so many mistakes along the way that cost us time, effort and money, yet every mistake has played a role in shaping where we are today. Our first resource was the internet. Use google. Do your research. Join forums and follow blogs. There has never been a better time to start a small business - just go out there and do it! Start small, identify a problem or a market then solve their needs with a product or service. That’s the hardest part done!