Little Green Refills
Two environmentally-conscious mothers launch their plastic-free delivery service in Abergavenny
Little Green Refills was born out of two local Abergavenny mothers’ passion for reducing plastic waste. They approached Business Wales for start-up support and have since successfully:
- Launched their refills delivery service
- Created 2 jobs
- Attended Superfast Business Wales workshops
- Committed to Business Wales’ Green Growth and Equality & Diversity Pledges
With a long-lasting passion to help others reduce their use of single-use plastic, business partners Ellen Hinton and Beth Oram came up with an idea to launch an environmentally friendly refills business, Little Green Refills.
The business is a delivery service, operating from and around Abergavenny, which offers ethically-produced cleaning, household and toiletry products delivered straight to their customers’ doors, reducing the number of single-use plastic containers that households commonly dispose of. All their products are sustainable, plant-based and cruelty-free, sourced from UK-based suppliers.
Little Green Refills also offer a refill station at Abergavenny market.
What were your objectives when starting your own business?
Our main objective as a new business was to provide easy access for the people of South East Wales to household cleaning products and toiletries that are free from single-use plastic, offering a delivery service and a refill station at local markets. Our mission is to help our beautiful local area to become less dependent on single-use plastics. Obviously, it is also a business, so we wanted it to be a successful one providing a decent living for the two of us.
What challenges did you face?
We have only been up and running for 3 months so we are still very much in the early stages. So far, the positive response we have been met with has been extremely exciting, but we are sure there will be more challenges to come. I think for both of us, the adjustment from stay-at-home Mums to running a business has been quite a leap and we are still settling into that. We are working on our communication skills, learning how to work with each other and discovering our individual strengths and weaknesses. There are some challenges in working from home as it is hard to switch off and we are working on setting strict boundaries between work and home life. However, none of these things are preventing us from achieving our objectives. Thanks to the flooding of information into the media recently, more and more people are aware of the issue of single-use plastic, so we are encountering less resistance than we may have imagined. However, there are still a vast number of people who don’t understand why a service like this could be beneficial, so education is a large part of what we are doing.
The other hurdle we are facing is the cost of the products. Unfortunately, they are still more expensive than the basic ranges in your local supermarket, but we are doing our best to make them as affordable and accessible as possible whilst still building a sustainable business ourselves.
Why did you approach the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service?
Ellen and Beth contacted Business Wales for help with starting their environmentally friendly refills business. Business Wales’ adviser Melanie Phipps provided advice on a range of start-up considerations including business planning, market research, marketing and branding, pricing, insurance, tax, NI and cashflow forecasting.
Having signed up to the Business Wales Green Growth and Equality & Diversity pledges, Ellen and Beth have also committed to returning all their plastic packaging to the wholesalers for recycling. They also intend to offer both product collection and delivery, to ensure their service is inclusive and accessible to all.
“Mel has been a huge source of support and encouragement to us. Not only has she given us more confidence in our own plans and ideas, but she has also given us some invaluable advice on how to achieve what we have set out to do. Mel has given us helpful, practical advice and pointed us in the right direction. We already had a very clear idea of what we wanted to do and how to do it, but Mel has helped us to focus on the essentials and given us helpful advice on how to put things into practice.
“We are positive that the benefits of the encouragement and practical help we have received and continue to receive will become more and more evident over the coming year.”
Future plans and ambitions
In the short term, we are reaching out to a wider geographical area in terms of deliveries. We are also moving on from delivering to just residential properties. In September, we will be starting deliveries to large companies/offices such as the Intellectual Property Office in Newport. They are encouraging their staff to use us as it helps the company themselves achieve some of their sustainability policies.
We are launching new collection hubs all the time, allowing more people to be able to access our products, helping us reduce our carbon footprint but also freeing up (valuable!) time. We are in discussions with other markets in the area and further afield, so we hope to be in more than just Abergavenny market as a refill station. We have discussed with Mel our long-term plans and are looking at options to franchise or, alternatively, take on more staff to cover a wider area. We are hugely excited and very grateful for the support from Business Wales.