Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall
It’s been almost a month since the last Linden Market Autumn Edition and we are desperately missing all our Makers during this time of Lockdown. So we decided to have couch parties and catch-up sessions, just to hear what they have been up to and how they are staying positive during this time. We must say that we have been inspired beyond words and we are truly blessed to work with these incredible people.
In our first episode we chatted to Andi Shaugnessy from The Green Cabin…The Green Cabin provides Luxury, nontoxic and biodegradable detergents sold only in refillable packaging. You can buy online and your order will be delivered to your door, reducing chemical exposure in your home and reducing the use of single use plastic (During this time of Lockdown they have a special licence to deliver).
In our chat with Andi, you will hear more on how the brand came about and how you can actually support this local business during Lockdown.
TLM: Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your brand.
Andi: It’s been an interesting journey. I have actually been in the live entertainment industry for years. As much as I loved it I just couldn’t handle the hours and I decided to choose a little more of life and love and relationships and going to parties and all that 😉
We then moved into an estate and a lot of communication came back telling us that our grey-water is so toxic with chemicals from our homes, our washing machines and all the detergents we are using – we were fighting a big pathogen and algae issue in our rivers. So a plea came from our Estate Managers, asking if we could all switch to bio-degradable detergents, and as a team we started clearing up our grey-water and our water systems. Then I realized that these products were quite hard to find, and they were quite expensive. So I thought let me fill that gap and supply the estate with what they need. After a lot of hunting, I found the most amazing suppliers. I buy directly from the manufacturer which helps with the cost, because it is all about affordability.
I secured my supplier and then I thought to myself there is no way that I am selling bio-degradable detergent in plastic packaging. It adds 25% to the cost and it also goes against the whole mantra of our landfills and the issues we are having with that and so the refilling concept started. I got a little trailer – which is what the company is named after The Green Cabin, sort of like a little cabin on wheels.
So I drive into all the estates, people bring their own bottles (you can buy bottles from us as well). You buy your “starter” bottle and then you keep refilling, so you are literally just paying for product. So I was doing this quite successfully – I have about 50 homes in my immediate area that are now using us, but that’s because I can contact them, and deliver to them quite easily and affordably.
There was however a bit of a plea to extend the service to outside the estate, so then I went online. So now we have our little what we call Decanto, (our Picanto car) that drives to you, refills, or delivers the products that you ordered online. The whole point is getting the people into the refilling revolution way of life. We make it so easy for you. It has to be convenient and it has to be affordable.
TLM: How has the Lockdown impacted your business?
Andi: Its been such a roller-coaster because only 2 weeks before Lockdown, my website went live for online purchases. In that time we managed to do 7 or 8 deliveries, funnily enough even to the Western Cape areas, East London and some in Joburg as well. And this manic buying that we were seeing in the shops, was happening to us – hand-sanitizer for example is one of the products in our range… I didn’t want people to think we were cashing in on the pandemic, so I started holding open tables at my estate, selling the sanitizer at 50% discount. I wanted to do the reverse of cashing in. There was this mad rush for people to stock up. And then fear set in and even though we have a permit to drop and go, I think people are fearful and will rather stick with the main centers. People are also scared to do anything wrong, they are scared of ordering things, so now it has gone very quiet.
So I am just concentrating on servicing the people in my estate, keeping them stocked up and staying present…
TLM: What is the one thing that you would have liked to achieve by the time that Lockdown is over?
Andi: It’s been a very sad thing, but actually a time that you can use so effectively. For me personally in my business, I am more on the creative, operational side of life, so the details of my accounts, and the invoicing system, and all of that has been left behind. This is a time now where I’m getting myself on an accounting system, I’ve got some amazing students who are out of work , who have fabulous brains to put to the operation – helping, getting involved. So I’m getting my ducks in a row, my financial ducks in a row, I’m putting my stock onto an accounting system, doing stock take, so that I know exactly what I have (which is a laborious job). I’m creating content, thinking of interesting silly fun videos to share… just no pressure – nothing to heavy.
Also just taking it easy. I think when you work for yourself, you become a bit stressed out, thinking everyday you have to be driving business. It’s not going to happen right now. But I think there is so much that we can do, so that when we come out on the other side, we are going to be such a more slick operation – understand our operation so much more.
I’m not wasting the time… we made ourselves lists and we stick with the lists.
TLM: What gets you through everyday?
Andi: The time flies and stops, flies and stops. It depends. I love doing fun things of creating new stuff. Actually there’s a bit of everything in my day. A little bit of gardening. A little bit of painting. A little bit of creating videos. There’s also getting to the real stuff and sometimes I just decide to watch a documentary or a movie. But I must say The Green Cabin is on the forefront of my mind the whole time. I don’t ever want to look back on this time and regret the time that we’ve had to get all of this in order. So I do put a little bit of pressure on myself but it’s probably good thing.
Also spending time with family. My daughter and I are having a lot of fun. We are very similar, she’s very involved in the business.
Some days are amazing and some days it just bogs you down a bit. But we are fortunate. Very fortunate.
TLM: As we are all going through this at the same time – what piece of advice or piece of hope would you give to entrepreneurs?
Andi: I think it’s important not to stress. I think it’s important to stay calm and rational. And try and imagine what the world is going to be like on the other side of this. It’s not going to be the same. I think we almost have to take out chrystal balls and imagine how life has changed – in some ways for the better. In some ways we may become so much less wasteful in terms of driving up and down… and try and imagine how your business is going to fit in on the outside of this.
For example for me it’s about the massive amounts of plastic. The world has a bottle shortage… so in terms of packaging, and trigger sprays and all that kinds of stuff, you can’t access it. We are going to have the worst pandemic in our landfills after this that ever before. From a green peace frame of mind I am imagining a world with way too much plastic and people aren’t thinking about that now. It’s going to become the next pandemic that we are all going to have to deal with. So I’m imagining a world of dealing with all of that. Once again it’s making use of the bottles we have and educating people.
I think it’s a time for entrepreneurs to get extremely creative. Get yourself tech-savvy, get online. Don’t waste this time – think out of the box. You’re not going to sell aggressively to anyone right now. So keep your current customers happy by having conversations with them. You’re not going to gain a bunch of new customers now and you shouldn’t be concentrating on that.
TLM: You mentioned that you have licence for the online shop and for delivering products. Where can people get hold of you?
Andi: Yes! So the online shop is running. People can go to www.thegreencabin.co.za or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org