Helping to end the taboos surrounding sanitary disposal is Martha Silcott, founder of the biodegradable FabLittle Bag.
Business Advice sat down with Silcott to find out more about the brand’s early days, her product’s entrance onto the UK high street, as well as the culture shift she hopes FabLittleBag has started to deliver.
Who are you and what’s your business?
My name is Martha Silcott, founder of FabLittleBag – the best sanitary disposal method. Period.
How long have you been around for?
We launched in the UK in November 2015 and now have global customer reach.
What makes you different and why should people take notice?
FabLittleBag is the only fit-for-purpose, specifically-designed disposal bag for awkward items.
Originally designed for tampons, it’s also perfect for, applicators, pads, panty-liners, wipes, condoms – all the things that usually make people feel icky and awkward when trying to get rid of them.
How has your business grown since foundation?
It went from a standing start with no funding (other than my mortgage) to over 1.5m FabLittleBags having now found their way into the bathrooms and handbags of women and girls not just in the UK, but in the USA, Canada, Singapore, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, the US Virgin Islands. We’ve now just launched in Australia.
We’re retailing in Waitrose, Ocado, Amazon and various other websites, and it’s now easier for more people to find us, so our sales have been growing steadily since launching.
Word of mouth has been a great advocate for us and we plan to roll out a number of FAB Ambassador opportunities through 2017/18.
We now have five UK water companies using FabLittleBag in their educational campaigns ,and research with Mumsnet and Anglian Water tells us that FabLittleBag is a great converter of flushers to binners – a 97 per cent conversion rate.
We look forward to exponential sales growth over the coming year as organic sales continue to grow and our marketing campaigns kick into action.
What do you attribute that growth to?
Hard work, a great brand, and an inventive product that works, solves a problem and turns an often-awkward moment into an awesome one.
People love FabLittleBags once they try them, but the hardest thing for us regarding growth has been selling a great new invention in a new category, in a taboo area. This makes things harder.
For example, flushers are usually unaware they are doing anything wrong, so there is an educational step that is needed.
The combination of being in retail stores such as Waitrose and Wholefoods, online at Ocado and Amazon, building up our social media presence and giving talks within different communities have all combined in getting our message out there.
Customers are often evangelical in their love of FabLittleBag, and talking to friends is a fabulous way for us to grow. We have just launched our subscription service which we hope will bring exponential growth as it makes so much sense.
What’s your biggest achievement to date?
I don’t even know where to start as there have been so many milestones. Building a machine to make the bags was fundamental. Making the first sale – to a water company – was such a buzz.
Also, getting an article in The Sunday Times Style Magazine the weekend we launched.
Getting listed in Waitrose was awesome, and receiving our first customer feedback email – it made me cry was so nice it made me cry. The list goes on.
What setbacks have you had along the way?
Again, so many. The machine manufacturer deciding to slightly change the bag as it was difficult to make it exactly as per my design, and having the cost of manufacturing increase due to matters beyond our control.
Also, having continuous streams of “nos” and rejections from all types of retailers, magazine editors, etc.
It also took much longer than I anticipated to get funding. I initially went the crowdfunding route – a bad decision. I lost a lot of time and money.
In five years’ I will be…
Focusing on my next invention whilst FabLittleBag is firmly entrenched as a bathroom and handbag essential in the eyes of most women and girls.
And, feeling proud that we have helped to #screwthetaboo around periods and help women and girls to feel more confident around disposal.
What one tip would you give to others starting out?
It is a marathon – make sure you are up for it.
Who are your business heroes and why?
Anita Roddick – she was such a pioneer, bringing a whole different way of doing business.
She introduced a different focus on what was acceptable in terms of ingredients, community impact and ethical considerations. She was turned down, faced rejection and had people laughing at her concepts. She did it anyway and aced it.
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