Interview with Cheryl Bennett
I'm specialised in Facebook advertising and I help small businesses that are working to make the world a better, greener, healthier place serve more customers and have a bigger impact. I've been in Marketing since 2000 and have focused on eCommerce and online business over the last decade. I also enjoy running own projects, one of which is ecoco, an online store turned directory for eco-conscious, healthy products.
Hi Cheryl! What are the main services of ecoco, and who are your main clients?
Hi there. So ecoco started in 2014 as an online shop for eco-conscious products so we specialize in food and natural cosmetics a lot of superfoods and raw food. And basically the idea was to find stuff that ticks all the boxes because you can go to organic shops and then there'll be a lot of sugary unhealthy stuff there. Then you go to a vegan shops and it's just not organic. And so basically yeah we're looking for stuff that fits all the criteria that's healthy so people don't have to do all the label research and everything themselves anymore they can just go to a place that they trust and they know whatever they pick up will be fine. So it's all plant-based free of any additives of course and gluten and a lot of it's raw and just looking for really good products that are good for us, good for the world, good for everyone.
You are also the co-founder of Natural Beauty for Africa Trading—how does your work there compliment what you do at ecoco?
Natural Beauty for Africa Trading actually doesn't exist anymore. It was a project based on the same kind of philosophy really at the time I was in South Africa and I started the company with two friends in South Africa, South African friends. And at the time we couldn't find much on the market for natural cosmetics so we decided to find good stuff overseas and bring it into the country to make it available to people who are looking for healthy options. And what happened to them was that the currency just crashed and eventually it just wasn't worth it to import products anymore. But on the positive side meanwhile, there are lots of South African companies that produce good natural cosmetics themselves and lots of nice organic stuff there. So there's no need to import stuff which is even better.
What are some of your favorite eco-friendly products you've discovered while working with ecoco?
Oh gosh there are so many nice products out there these days. It's so hard to pick just one and it seems unfair actually. But let's see. One of the brands that really stands out and that our customers love loads is Zao cosmetics, it's from France and they do Natural Organic makeup, and powders, and lipsticks. What's really special about them is that not just the cosmetic formulations organic and 100 per cent, natural actually 100 per cent because most other brands do like 99 point something per cent and then add a little bit of something. You have to preserve the products or whatever they need. But Zao is actually 100 per cent natural and it's kind of a combination of decorative cosmetics and skin care. So it's just it doesn't just make you look nice that all the ingredients and the formulations are actually made to really take good care of your skin. Yeah. To help me keep it healthy. And what's really special though is that the packaging is bamboo so you find lots of organic brands out there that make natural cosmetics and then they put them in plastic which is of sad. And you know Zao are one of very few companies that have actually tried to improve the packaging as well. So as much as they can do is bamboo. And then you'll find like a few little you know like, for example, the lipsticks you'll need like a little plastic shaft inside of you to hold it and to twist it so they're not found a solution for that. Know I'm not sure if that's even possible but at least it's an inside a bamboo case and the cases are exchangeable so you can actually refill the products which is really nice. So you buy the powder and a nice bamboo case and then yeah you just buy refills after that which makes it cheaper. It's also more friendly to the environment.
Both of your companies have a healthy, "green" angle. How has founding these start-ups changed your own relationship to your health and wellbeing?
Well, I've always had an interest in health and well-being and the environment and nutrition. And so that's basically why I started the companies and I wouldn't say that it's changed my relationship to health and well-being. I'd rather say that it's kind of yeah put a real learning curve and boosted my knowledge and I mean you just gain access to information and you know communicating with people that have the same interests and learning from them and learning from other companies and your suppliers and manufacturers. And yeah it's been really interesting.
What would your best advice be for anyone thinking of launching a startup of their own?
My best advice for anyone wanting to launch a small company. I'd say invest in training, invest in yourself. I think that's the most important thing and do that you know throughout your entire life just keep learning and learning and learning is so important especially these days and things are changing so fast. And once you train yourself up or keep training. Know what you want and trust yourself. I think the biggest mistakes or the biggest problems that I've had been results of me not trusting myself on not listening to my gut feeling you know when you have that feeling like you know everyone saying you should do this that means somehow doesn't feel right. And listen to what you know your intuition is telling you and give your intuition some good training and then listen to it. I think that's the most important one. I mean the sun much so much to lend to but that's definitely one of the most important factors.
What's next for ecoco? Where do you see the company in 5 years?
ecoco is actually going through some major changes right now which we hope to complete by the end of the year because we currently based in Germany but I'm going overseas I decided not to continue with physical products. Rather I'm making it more digital product. Which will be nice because we don't have the whole set up in the background that sort of takes up a lot of time and energy and we were able to focus more on expanding the Website. What it's going to be is then transforming it from being a store into being more sort of a directory kind of like a platform, a treasure trove a really nice special product where people can go and they can do the research and they'll think like are you looking for. I don't know. Sun screen and there's 500 out there you don't know where to go. You go to our Website and ecoco you know you find just a few that kind of worth and ticks all the boxes and from there will link to suppliers where you can go and buy product from other shops basically. Yes, that's the plan for the future and yeah we will serve more people and list more nice products that way and put more energy into it. So that'll be great.