28th Jul 2021
Next up in our client origin story series is Cocoon, the conscious marketing communications company for eco-friendly and sustainable brands. This story encapsulates the sheer power of our natural world to change our lives. No more spoilers from me. Over to you Katie...
2016 was an exciting year for me. I’d spent 4 months working and travelling around America, spent a lovely summer at my home on the Isle of Wight, and on the 5th December I headed off for another adventure – this time to New Zealand.
I know people talk about the beauty of the land of the long white cloud, but I really don’t think I gave it that much thought. After an hour and a half of watching Finding Dory my plane from Sydney started descending and as I saw the craggy coastlines and rolling green hills I can honestly remember the moment when I thought “wow, this place is different..”
My first month or so was spent in Hamilton where my boyfriend was studying. No offence Hamilton, but there is a reason why a lot of travellers pass on through, there really isn’t an awful lot to do. After getting itchy feet, I booked a solo trip up to the Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga for a weekend. Despite the cramped bunk in my hostel, Paihia was one of the prettiest towns I’d ever seen and I spent as much time as I could outside; on land and at sea! One thing I distinctly remember were the incredible sunrises and sunsets. I swear they have their own separate skies over there – I’d never seen anything like it! After the weekend I had a 4-hour bus ride home, and I was gifted with yet another sunset so stunning that I literally had to fight back tears.
This is what New Zealand did to me. The next 9 months were a constant stream of being slapped in the face by mother nature. I hiked active volcanoes, surfed in the crystal-clear sea, walked on a glacier, swam in natural hot springs, saw wild penguins, saw copious waterfalls, some waterfalls with rainbows, some waterfalls with rainbows and dolphins. And I literally wanted to cry the whole time about how in love with it I was.
Before my trip I can’t remember being overly interested in the environment. I’d just come back from the states where you felt like a freak if you weren’t carrying a disposable Starbucks cup. I’d been working in health and beauty PR and thought “hauls” were cool and that I literally HAD to get my hands on that NAKED palette even though I hadn’t the foggiest how to use it.
New Zealand taught me so much. It taught me that in 9 months you can happily live from a backpack. I even donated some of my clothes to charity because I was annoyed at how much stuff I had. It taught me that mother nature is incredible and terrifying, from making me want to cry in awe of a mountain range to making me want to cry in fear of being stuck in the middle of a storm cell in a campervan! Mostly it taught me that I had to clean up my act because how I was living wasn’t good for the world around me. My wardrobe, my makeup and skincare, my belongings, my daily habits. I spent the next few months back home stripping down and donating to charity what I just wasn’t using, whilst choosing to buy more quality purchases that lasted, mending things, clothes sharing and swapping, using up all the skincare and make-up that was just sat gathering dust rather than buying the next ‘in’ thing.
The final piece of the puzzle to clean up was my job. Being unemployed was a scary prospect, and so I quickly went on the job hunt and had interviews with big technology and health companies. I came away each time feeling like it went well, but deep down I could feel that my heart wasn’t in it. I had requests for second interviews and even a job offer but I just kept running from my phone. I couldn’t bring myself to accept anything. None of them felt right. I could feel mother nature’s eyes burning in the back of my head, judging me almost for ignoring everything she’d shown me.
I’m so glad that I did what I did, or I wouldn’t be where I am now. Although I didn’t start Cocoon straight away, I returned to University to do my MA in Digital Marketing and set-up Cocoon alongside my studies and used it as a working portfolio for my course. I gained more clarity, focus and knowledge in that year and it really cemented that this is what I want to do.
After a slow first year of growing my client base with pro bono work and small local clients, Cocoon has never been so busy, and in 2021 I’ve been lucky to work with some incredible brands like Mura Technology, Net Zero Company, MyPlasticDiary App, Wild & Stone, BEYONDPLASTIC, Magi, Nature Metrics and many more.
Going forwards, I can’t wait to discover more brands, learn more about what we can do to help the world and its inhabitants, and meet some amazing people too!
Thank you, Aotearoa, you are amazing <3
9th Jul 2021
Our next client origin story is that of WHISK, the sustainable & eco-conscious cake boutique. This story shows the very essence of creativity, from a change in career through to how the owner's care for the planet is implemented in every aspect of the business. It's so original and I think you're going to love it as much as I do!
So, let's hear the WHISK client origin story. Over to you Dina...
Cakes may not be the most obvious way to engage with the topic of the climate crisis, but why not? Everyone loves cake and it's usually associated with happy occasions and celebration. People are more likely to engage if they enjoy the subject, so this is the origin story of WHISK.
My name is Dina and having worked in the music industry my entire career, I was looking for an opportunity to channel my climate change anxiety into something more impactful. I have always enjoyed baking and it was a new challenge I thought would be fun to explore. I am not a trained pastry chef and have not worked in the food industry, but we all build up skills as we move through our careers and they can be applied in many ways, and for the things we don’t know there is always youtube (only partly joking here, its an amazing resource), so with that mindset WHISK was born.
I saw an opportunity to get people to think about sustainability in an unexpected way. Pretty pictures of cupcakes might get people’s attention and once people are engaged the real fun starts. We’re a different kind of bakery, but how is it really different? We wanted to show that running a business and eating tasty treats can all be done in a sustainable way. Society needs to be more conscious of their impact on the planet and at WHISK we do this in a few ways:
When we moved in, we wanted to keep our footprint to a minimum, and this influenced every renovation decision. For example we used environmentally friendly paint by Auro and worked with the space instead of redoing everything from scratch or using unnecessary materials just for the sake of aesthetics. We have countertops made from recycled yoghurt pots from Smile Plastics which sit on open cabinets made from local FSC wood with bio glue. All the appliances, fittings and furnishings are second hand, even the kitchen sink! Our window signage is done with water based paint and can be easily removed. Making a beautiful space is possible without tearing everything down and buying new and we should consider the long term use of a space as we may not be in it forever.
Everything we use is local and organic, except for local chocolate, and we've worked hard to find suppliers that care about their employees and the environment as much as we do. It does mean our products are missing things people might usually expect like vanilla or cinnamon. We also use ingredients you might not often see like fresh or dried flowers and fruit powders instead of artificial food colourings. We also tackle food waste and buy fruit from local supermarkets that would otherwise be thrown away. Also we looked at our recipes to see how we could use more plant based ingredients instead of the traditional butter and eggs. Experimenting has allowed us to offer our customers tasty baked goods that prove local alternatives are just as delicious.
Commercial kitchens can be very wasteful and we avoid this by using long term reusable items like cotton piping bags, no cling film, natural rubber spatulas, glass jars for ingredients storage and metal tools instead of plastic. We bake to order and don't have lots of fresh stock on hand to avoid food waste. If there are leftovers Karma and TooGoodToGo We also use eco-friendly detergents in every area of the shop and we even found compostable plasters for our first aid kit from Patch Anything that is delivered to the shop, the packaging is of course recycled. We also carbon compensate for it's journey if electric vehicles haven't been used by supporting CAMFED, which is a pan-African movement revolutionizing how girls' education is delivered. Educating women has been shown to mitigate climate change (more great info about girls' education here)
The biggest adjustment for some is the lack of disposable packaging. We decided on beautiful hand made wooden boxes (from renewable FSC certified trees) which our customers borrow and bring back, just like a library book. They are also made so the boxes can hold a variety of items, flexibility was baked into the design. Our customers have loved the boxes and everyone returns them, so the circular model has worked well. If customers don’t want to use our boxes they are welcome to bring your own containers and a mini cupcake is on us! We also eliminated unnecessary packaging like cupcake liners and take away cups as they simply aren’t necessary. Packaging is an area that any food business can address.
While the front facing part of our business highlights our sustainable aims, it was important that even the bits people can’t see were tackled in the same way. We run the shop using renewable energy supplied by Fortum, our local energy supplier, this is such an easy swap for many businesses. Our website is designed with data consumption in mind, less is more! It doesn’t have any videos, and not all elements are loaded at once, users can download the specific information they require and we don’t send out email mailers or post more than twice a week on social media. Of course our website is hosted by the wonderful team at Green Hosting, who’s customer service really can’t be beat. We also do the small amount of printing we may need at our local library, as sharing resources is a great way to cut back on over consumption of our precious resources. Also we love to share any knowledge that we’ve acquired, supplier information or recipes with other businesses, supporting other businesses is a great way to support change. It’s not the time to hoard useful information! We definitely aren't perfect, but we want to at least try and be transparent about what we do
While we no longer have our store, as COVID-19 and a celebration business might not be the perfect match, we still make treats to order from home and continue to highlight sustainable ways of working. It was important for me to show not all change comes from developing ground breaking technology or revolutionary new techniques. Sometimes change is as simple as reworking old thinking and showing society an example of a functioning sustainable businesses. Change takes place when ordinary people are prepared to change and can see what's possible, Im an ordinary person who gave it a go and the experience and people I've met have given me hope. Can you imagine if every bakery in the world only used local biodynamic ingredients, stopped using unnecessary packaging and had transparent business practices! That really would be having your cake and eating it!
18th Jun 2021
First up in our Client Origin Story series of blog post is Green & Moore, founded by David Moore ethical accountant and business advisor. Over to to you David...
I’m David, the owner of Green & Moore Accountancy and I want to share with you my inspiration for starting my own sustainable accountancy business.
My business has been going for about a year and a half now and I am enjoying the new challenges that running a business brings. There is always more admin and business planning to do, but it’s very fulfilling.
I have met some great people on the way from networking groups and like minded businesses. It has been great to see more vegan and environmental businesses setting up and doing well recently especially during these tough circumstances.
One of the main reasons I wanted to start my own business was because I was unhappy in my job, there were several parts about the job I was not enjoying. One being working 9-5 every week day, as I realised I was just working for a two day break at the weekend leaving me little time to do the things I enjoy and am passionate about. My job was also particularly boring in February and March due to little to no work after a busy tax year. In these months I still had to go in and find pointless and meaningless things to do, they were particularly long days.
My turning point was when I decided to change jobs and work for another company, it was during my time here that I realised whichever company I worked for I wouldn’t be satisfied. I was even offered a promotion and pay rise to stay but I had already decided that I wanted to start my own business. I was lucky enough that my previous employer was happy for me to work for her whilst I built up my business.
Once I decided to create and build up my own business, I wanted to put the things I find important into the business. The main focus being it was environmentally friendly, this included choosing an ethical bank account, environmentally friendly web hosting and buying a refurbished laptop. Setting up my office at home gives me the opportunity to manage my time better and to eat fresh meals at lunch, allowing me to sometimes go into the garden to pick some fresh spinach or pick tomatoes. It also cuts out my commute which saves me a lot of time and reduces my carbon emissions. This works out to be approximately 0.84 tonnes of carbon per year.
I also wanted to be accessible to my clients as this was something I was never able to offer whilst being employed, which is why they can book appointments in the evenings and at weekends and email or call if they are unsure about anything. This also gives me the flexibility to work when I want or need to and spend more time with my family and doing things I enjoy.
There has been a lot of research and planning during my journey, but luckily with being an accountant, which involves working with businesses, I had a good footing of where to start, this is why I share tips on my Instagram and Facebook pages to help guide people setting up their own business.
Green & Moore Accountancy Ltd
Don't forget, if you are one of our Green Hosting clients and would like to share your origin story on our blog and social media channels then do get in touch.
18th Jun 2021
If you are familiar with the way we do things here at Green Hosting you'll know that we love to talk about the wonderful work of our clients. We share clients' social media posts, give shout outs to new and long term clients, highlight their exciting news and, in most recent times, added a new monthly blog feature about the amazing things our clients have been doing during lockdown.
Now we'd like to introduce a new way for everyone to learn more about our clients, through their origin story. Over the years I've found that those who chose to create their own brand or set up an organisation have a story to tell. They may have been inspired by someone they met or saw a need that needed to be fulfilled or they simply decided they wanted to do things their own way. Ethical businesses, charities and positive enterprises often have an additionally interesting tale because their motivation was and is driven by purpose over profit, a desire to make things better for others.
So, Green Hosting clients, tell us your origin story. We would love to hear how your business came to life. It may be a path familiar to many of us or a big surprise but I'm sure that whatever it is it will provoke thought and perhaps even encourage and energise others to begin their own ethical business story. We'll post it here on our blog and via our social media channels.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
25th May 2021
If ever a spring felt like a time for new beginnings then this was the one. With businesses beginning to invite customers back to their premises and loved ones being able to get together a little more, hopefully we can look forward to some more positive times ahead. And whilst we're talking about positivity, here's our latest bumper round up of our clients doing amazing things...
Conservation Through Public Health delivered food rations to Uganda Wildlife Authority at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park headquarters in Buhoma and signed the Gorilla Friendly Pledge at the pledge meeting with tour operators
Reed Words developed new brand voice for Goodfind and shared how ethical brands can use language more strategically.
Vegan Babe Life marked Mental Health Awareness week by offering some tips to manage anxiety when coming out of lockdown.
Don't forget that if you are one of our clients and have some exciting news, let us know so we can share your amazing work!
Photographs above belong to clients highlighted in this article.