‘When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.’ – Malala Yousafzai
With the fight to save the world sometimes feeling a little overwhelming, any and all inspiration to keep going is vital. However, if you’re anything like me, sometimes inspiration isn’t always enough – ideas like ‘I could start my own business!’ are often short lived and end up being filed in the brain under ‘things I am not capable of’. I would like to take this opportunity to strongly suggest you re-file those ideas, under the category ‘things I definitely am capable of’. Here’s why.
Today, I was shown the most perfect example of bringing your passion to life and using it to inspire positive change. The Student’s Union of my University, NTSU, have started a produce market, organised by the students, for the students. As we’re generally quite an eco-orientated campus, what with being the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, a lot of the stalls followed a similar environmental theme. One in particular stood out – Eco-Yabber – one packed to the brim with a range of eco-friendly goodies.
As I browsed hand-made body butters, bamboo toothbrushes, glass straws and reusable face wipes, the owner introduced herself to us with an excitable ‘my business cards are made from old t-shirts!’ and immediately started introducing us to the vast array of goodies on offer. However, when I started to dig a little deeper into who this magically enthusiastic eco-warrior was and how this venture had come about, I was shocked – the owner, Emily Slann, had only graduated from a Physical Geography degree course at this very university the year before, and had created this business, from scratch, in the short time afterwards. I was blown away by this – the stall was jam packed with so many goods and Emily had such a knowledge of all of them: what they were, why they’re necessary, where they’re made, how they’re packaged, how they’re shipped, it was almost unbelievable that such a knowledgable company was only established less than a year ago. It served as the biggest example of passion in practice – Emily had a desire to bring people and the environment together, and she went out and did it.
Fortunately, Emily also agreed to let me pester her with questions about this start up, so that this particular blog post could come to life and potentially act as a giant punch-in-the-face of inspiration to likeminded people wanting to create change. In her own words, here’s a little insight into how and why Eco-Yabber came to life.
Could you give a little background about yourself and why you started this company?
Eco Yabber was founded, as you stated before, from a strong desire and passion for our Environment, reducing Ocean plastics and Climate Change. And as a keen Environmentalist and Physical Geographer I began to feel maybe I could turn my knowledge and passion into something useful, by educating the general public on how they can make a change to ‘saving the world’ but also not to scare people of this harsh reality but show them what they can do and how we can make it better. If small changes are undertaken then big things can happen. As many people say, ‘yes, this is all happening and it’s sad, but what can I do about it?’ My aim is to change this.
What is Eco-Yabber?
Eco Yabber is an Eco and Environmentally Friendly company founded on the ethos of wanting to bring people and the Environment together. The store sells a range of products, in all different collections such as Homeware, Clothing, Make-up, Health and Beauty, Pets, Stationary and Gift ware. All the products, aim to reduce plastic, enhance recycling and many of the products are bio degradable. If you do have any questions about the products feel free to get in contact!
Eco Yabber means ‘Eco’ ecosystem/ environment and ‘Yabber’ means to talk in Native Aboriginal peoples language.
So as a summary – Let’s talk or Yabber about the Environment and our Ecosystems not hide away from fact. Which, in turn, brings people and the Environment together.
How did you go about creating your own business?
I started Eco Yabber when I was still at Uni, finding potential suppliers, and researching what products were out there and if they weren’t in the UK could I import them from other countries. I researched what I thought would be most popular. I worked on a business plan and funding. Once dissertation was finished and other finals I jumped two feet in first and thought I’m going to do this, and with few personal things happening in my life, it drove me more to go and give something I believed in so strongly a go. So over the summer, Eco Yabber was founded and launched around three weeks ago. The website went live earlier than an expected, all thanks to my best friend who is an IT consultant who helped me finish it in his spare time. I also planned which gift fairs I would do and where my products would be most popular. Then of course there is all the accounting, banking, insurance and legal side of things so that took up a lot of time too. I taught myself a lot of what I know about setting up a business, which isn’t the easiest way, a lot of trial and error. If you read below, it is why I suggest to take help where offered as I later found out that there are charities and other sources of support that can help people like me who haven’t a clue where to start.
Was there anything that put you off taking action?
Yes, taking action is difficult particularly when trying to sell Eco products the general public as not everybody cares or understands about the environment. So in order to make this successful, I know I have keep my passion strong to try and make others believe change can be made and help them believe they can make a difference too. Also, funding and monies is frustrating but I think if you start off small with a few things then you can only grow.
What help did you need?
Business advice, money advice, funds, determination, and belief in your products.
What have you learned so far and what have you gotten out of it?
I have learned that no matter what, if you believe in something so strongly, then go and do it. You never know where it might take you. I’ve learned that when running a business there is a lot more to it than I ever imagined and I’ve also learned, you have to think out of the box when things go wrong. One thing that has shocked me the most is how many people do not know that there are Eco friendly alternatives to the products they use or have been using. Which is extremely positive, as people will then start to make small changes now they know an Eco alternative is on offer.
Where do you want to go in future?
In the future, I would like to have an Eco Shop and to make Eco items so widely spread that people buy the more Eco option as default. I would like to make Eco friendly products affordable and accessible to all.
You have to dream, and if you don’t try you’ll never know.
What advice would you give to anybody wanting to start their own venture?
Firstly, make a plan or know why exactly you want to do it, take help where it is offered and any expert advice you receive. There are many charities and companies out there that provide these services, and whatever your idea maybe they will be able to help you. Some also provide grants and small loans to get you started. The Hive at NTU is also great and provide support. Everybody’s journey is different, but if you believe in something go and try.
So there you have it – a fantastic example of how we can use the skills, knowledge and passions that we have to make a difference. I’d like to say a giant thank you to Emily for giving up her time to answer my questions, and to the NTSU for organising such a wonderful event.
You can find out more, shop and contact Eco-Yabber here:
Phone – 07917463311