How did it all start?
After university, I worked for two years as a business advisor for a financial management company. It taught me a lot. Early on, I realized that I didn’t want to wear a suit and answer to somebody every day. I had this idea to create an app that was based on sharing your emotions. I had saved an amount of money which I was planning to spend traveling. But then being the ideas kind of person, I wanted to take action; I decided to put everything into that. The app is called “Mood swing” and it was very similar to how Instagram works, however everything that you post is tagged by with an emotion. It took off and we had over 100,000 people using our platform and we raised some investment. Ultimately the product wasn’t strong enough to be relevant in the same conversation as Facebook and Instagram, so that came to a halt.
From that, the big skill came out was how to acquire customers for as minimal cost as possible and it’s a term called “Growth hacking”. From there I have launched a couple of other ecommerce businesses. One was called “Super Mix Me” which is an Acai product. It was very popular and it is how I discovered coconut bowls. I was in Bali and saw the coconut shell handicraft where local craftsmen had engraved different things on a shell and they were used predominantly as tea lights. Because of my experience in social media, marketing, and the health space I thought, if we can turn this into a bowl and people can eat out of them and its food safe, I think there’s a huge market for it.
How did your first order turn out?
I realized that only about 10% of them could be used. It was just a lack of experience with me dealing with international trade. We had no quality control, we had no direct guidelines. Some shells were thick and some were thin. I also wanted to make the product as vegan appropriate as possible. One thing I didn’t realize at the start was the first few batches were polished with beeswax. We then explored polishing with coconut oil. But one polish of coconut oil is not enough to hydrate the shell so that its smooth shiny and food safe. The coconut shell is porous, and the coconut oil is a temporary sealant, which means that after multiple uses, the pores will start to open again. We recommend that all our customers to polish their shell again and it is kind of like it’s worked with our product. Because it’s like care for your shells. A reflection of you. Because it’s the only one that’s like it in the whole world. We lost money on the first batch and we had self funded and bootstrapped this idea from the start.
What is Plants Not Plastics?
Plants Not Plastics is an awareness initiative. Our goal is to partner with events, cafes and businesses to replace the, otherwise one use products, like plastic containers for a coconut shell. They are food safe, reusable and they can last a lifetime. While at the same time they are instantly biodegradable. It’s about raising awareness to consumers and businesses alike. That there are better options than plastic.
We have heard there is a New Vegan Cookbook in the pipeline?
Yes, the book is called “Vegan Bowls by Vegan Souls”. It features 100 unique recipes from 100 people within our community. It’s customers, it’s people who inspire us. Every recipe is 100% plant-based and photographed in the Coconut Bowl. I guess what brought us to the idea was a way of giving back to our community that supports us so much. We are very fortunate that we have over a hundred customers post photos of coconut bowls every single day on social media. They’ve largely been behind our growth and our success and our ability to reach more and more people every single day.
Do you have a favorite recipe from the book?
There are too many to choose. I haven’t even eaten my way through them all yet. Within the book there’s a meal for every part of the day and snacks and sweets as well. For me I can’t go past a smoothie bowl. There is this Acai Bowl by Tess Begg and it’s got a few little ingredients that most people wouldn’t put in that. It just makes for that a little bit a little bit more powerful in terms of flavours. Super sweet. But super healthy as well.