Entrepreneur highlights the business model which is ‘more controllable’

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In this climate, entrepreneurs and large corporations alike are having to reassess how they approach their processes to better appeal to this ‘new’ consumer. Ruby Raut, founder of WUKA, the UK’s first sustainable period pants brand, shared in an exclusive comment to Express.co.uk how businesses can achieve these new targets for consumers.

Ms Raut founded Wake Up Kick Ass (WUKA) in 2017 to provide ethical, vegan-friendly and carbon neutral menstrual products.

During this time there were very few ethical brands in this sector with an even bigger stigma around menstruation as a whole.

This is where Ms Raut discovered the gap in the market that would soon see her product in over 400 stores and 40 independent stockists.

Many successful ‘lockdown entrepreneurs’ have seen profits purely due to their vision to fill market gaps like Ms Raut did, and by being constantly on the ground and thinking about why the customer put them ahead of much larger competitors.

“At WUKA, we strive as a small business to have a clear focus and always put the customer at the heart of everything we do,” she commented.

“Our journey to sustainability has only just begun but we’ve set a strong foundation through our mission and principles,” Ms Raut continued saying that by providing an ethical product, it in turn created a positive work environment as well as bettering the company in all aspects.

She noted that many companies, start-ups especially, find they don’t have the financial backing to be as ethical as possible in their manufacturing, but this could be circumvented through good preparation.

“We operate on a triple bottom line: Planet, People, Profit. The materials we use to create our products are typically more expensive than other underwear brands, as we source our materials in an ethical and sustainable way.

“These extra costs mean that we must plan ahead for larger minimum orders in our books for new product launches. From the warehouse to the design team, we aim to hire permanent staff over contractors.”

Ms Raut also commented that the pandemic saw direct-to-consumer models rise above the traditional methods of product distribution, and that this trend is likely to continue far beyond the pandemic itself.

“The pandemic has shown us that direct-to-consumer is a model that is more controllable, particularly compared to our wholesale channels that operate in-store and were hit by the lockdown hardest.

“We acted fast and made the decision to diversify our sales channel, so by having more we were able to distribute the risk across them, and this is something we continue to develop today.

“Post-pandemic, we’ve realised that having a good cash balance is important, but so is the ability to have credit lines set up in advance in order to cover any unforeseen changes.”

The post-pandemic consumer market should continue the trend of preferring ethical and local businesses to large corporations as people have had more time to reflect on where they are spending their hard-earned income and what those companies are doing with it.

Ms Raut advised future entrepreneurs to dream big, but start small.

“For those looking to start their own business, I would advise against launching too many new products at once.

“Every new product dilutes your marketing efficiency. At WUKA, we had one style of underwear for the first year we launched, which enabled us to focus on making it the best it could be.

“It also helped us stay in stock when cash flow was limited in the early days.

“A limited number of new products at the beginning also gave us room to explore a new marketing strategy.

“For new businesses, particularly consumer brands, there’s the expectation that having more products is better, when in fact it’s quite the opposite.

“In contrast to bigger brands, the smaller, independent ones that have sustainability at the centre, like WUKA, are able to mindfully curate their products, designed by a team of talented individuals,” she concluded.
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