Jake McKeon was on a surf vacation to Bali when he got here throughout some carved coconut shells with work on them at an area market.
“At the time I had a health food business and I thought ‘wow, if we just had a natural coconut shell with this craftsmanship my customers would buy them,’ ” McKeon says. “So I packed my suitcase full of them and brought them back to Australia and, in a six-week period, I sold out. Within about three months, the coconut bowls were selling better than my health food products, so I created a new business called Coconut Bowls.”
Starting from that first $500 funding in 2016, the 28-year-old Melburnian has bought has greater than 100,000 recycled bowls, that are priced from $12.95 every.
“We cut the shells and sand them and polish them so people can eat from them,” McKeon says.
Coconut Bowls’ important market has been promoting direct to shoppers with on-line gross sales making up 90 per cent of orders, however the business additionally sells wholesale to cafes and retailers. Its merchandise are utilized in greater than 600 cafes in Australia.
The reputation of smoothie bowls and acai bowls on cafe menus and at house has helped drive McKeon’s business.
“They have become the bowl to serve smoothie bowls out of,” McKeon says.
Customers create content material
Coconut Bowls makes use of three totally different social media channels, @coconutbowls @veganbowls and @smoothiebowls with over one million followers, who’re inspired to submit pictures of their Coconut Bowls on platforms Instagram and Facebook.
“Our customers have just created so much amazing content for us,” McKeon says. “We have grown so quickly and every single day we have customers sharing photos of our bowls. We have built a community even though we are a product-based business.”
McKeon says he has created a robust social media following through the use of Coconut Bowls’ social media channels to create conversations relatively than specializing in promoting the product.
“We only post something that provides value to people. I think where other businesses go wrong is trying to use it as a selling tool,” he says.
It’s a technique that helped Coconut Bowls develop by greater than 500 per cent final yr to a turnover of just about $1.2 million.
Increased demand led McKeon to vary his provide supply for the coconut shells from Bali to Vietnam, the place a contact with a coconut farm can provide shells after the flesh and milk is extracted.
Developing a ardour for sustainability
Building a sustainable business has develop into more and more necessary to McKeon.
“The sustainability side of things is something I have developed a passion in,” he says. “I think sustainability is on the brink of being adopted by the mainstream.”
McKeon says the impression of Coconut Bowls may be far reaching.
“It is not just a bowl, it’s an experience,” he says. “That’s what the product actually is; it is an experience, it highlights a better way of doing things.”
Re-using supplies similar to coconut shells is more and more necessary given China’s restrictions on recycling in accordance with Jenni Downes, analysis marketing consultant on the Institute for Sustainable Futures.
“Re-use really reduces the pressure on the recycling system, we kind of use it as the default and it should be the last line of defence,” he says.
Downes says whereas the contribution small business could make is usually small, the impression could be bigger.
“It shouldn’t be judged on the volume of waste solely but also the message that it sends to people,” she says. “The benefits go beyond just taking waste products and re-using them so they don’t go to landfill it has bigger benefits of demonstrating to consumers that it can be done.”
Melissa Edwards, senior lecturer at UTS business faculty, says Coconut Bowls is a superb instance of the round financial system business mannequin.
“Here is a waste stream, a coconut shell, and how do we create a value stream out of that rather than a waste stream?” she says.
Edwards says companies with a sustainability focus are rising.
“A lot of the growth is in small-to-medium enterprises. We are seeing a lot more start-up businesses seeing an opportunity in these waste streams and being able to develop into a new marketplace with an environmental focus.”
McKeon isn’t stopping at coconut bowls and has expanded his vary to incorporate bamboo straws, and picket spoons and forks constructed from furnishings offcuts.
“I have had businesses before and I know what it feels like to shove a product down someone’s throat,” he says. “Profit with purpose is a great way to start a business. It gives you a story to tell and something to work on passionately as well, rather than just trying to sell products.”
Cara is Fairfax media’s small business editor based mostly in Melbourne
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