We all want a greener planet, but would you use your tax return to learn how to run an e-commerce business to sell sustainable products? Ballina woman Christine Berry did just that, creating Good Sheet for the Planet, which boasts plant based, plastic free, laundry detergent sheets. Here, she tells Lifestyle News about her journey.
Q: Why is it important for people to use sustainable products?
A: As brand owners and product designers we need to lead the change we want to see in the world. We can't leave it to the consumer or the government to make the changes, that’s too slow.
When starting a brand, you have many choices to make and leading from a sustainability standpoint can make a big difference when communicated properly, is well thought out and designed to be low impact.
Q: Do plant based cleaning products work as well as chemical based products?
A: Some people think using more detergent is going to equal cleaner clothes, or that the more perfumed the clothes come out, the cleaner they are.
Some don’t want to take the time to prepare the clothing before washing to remove stains or separate colours.
These types of people will likely not find the product works to their satisfaction - but not because its plant based (though they most likely will say that’s the reason).
My family - three teenagers and a partner - have used the sheets for years and find them great. For smelly teens and smelly gym gear we throw a bit of scent booster but our clothes come out clean every time.
Q: How did you first start in e-commerce?
A: In 2017, I found myself in a challenging situation, working as a cleaner in a popular tourist destination while raising three sons as a single mother.
With limited working hours available during school, cleaning was a physically demanding job that didn't offer substantial pay.
However, fate had an interesting turn when I stumbled upon a woman who was selling a coaching program centred around selling products on Amazon.
I was drawn to her genuine and kind demeanour, and decided to invest my tax return money into her program, convinced that if she could succeed, so could I. Despite the scepticism from friends and family, I embarked on a journey to prove them all wrong.
Determined and driven, I worked tirelessly, immersing myself in acquiring new knowledge and skills. I honestly hoped that the money would materialise when the time came to order my first product.
Sometimes I even resorted to praying! Gratefully, I found a supportive supplier who allowed me to pay in instalments, making it possible for me to acquire the initial batch of stock.
Drawing from my past experience and a diploma in Fashion Design, which I had obtained years ago, I discovered a passion for building a brand. Leveraging my expertise, I ventured into launching a clothing brand on Amazon USA, utilising the platform's vast reach and potential.
Remarkably, within the first year, my sales skyrocketed, enabling me to bid farewell to my cleaning job. It was a euphoric moment, as my tired body could no longer endure the strenuous labour of pushing a vacuum cleaner all day long.
By the year 2020, my modest store on Amazon had flourished beyond my wildest dreams. I managed to sell it to a buyer from the United States for a substantial sum, which served as a down payment for my first house.
This milestone marked a significant achievement, as homeownership had previously been an unattainable dream.
Q: Tell me about your new brand?
A: I am now embarking on a new endeavour with a fresh brand, this time focusing on building a presence on Amazon and Shopify.
I thrive on learning new things, and this venture presents an entirely different set of challenges. I am currently honing my skills in importing products to different countries, managing multiple currencies, and ensuring seamless technological functionality across all sites for optimal customer experience.
Equally important is my desire to make a positive impact on the environment by addressing the issue of excessive plastic waste found in Aussie homes. Good Sheet offers its customers an alternative to this.
Undoubtedly, one of the greatest challenges I faced was balancing the acquisition of new skills with the responsibilities of being a full-time single parent.
I had to tap into my resourcefulness, work methodically, and show myself kindness when tasks took longer to accomplish compared to others.
From day one, I adopted a bootstrapping approach, relying on my ingenuity (and a miracle or two) to secure the necessary capital.
I am driven by a passion for sustainability, I embarked on a fabulous course centered around sustainable product design.
I gained extensive knowledge in systems thinking, packaging design, the environmental impact of product lifecycles, and the concept of a circular economy.
Both in my past and current brand, I implemented these principles, ensuring that my business reflects my values and allows me to contribute positively to the world.
I firmly believe that businesses should act as a force for good, minimising their environmental impact and operating with transparency, thus empowering stakeholders to understand the rationale behind decision-making processes.
Q: How do you see your future?
A: One of my greatest aspirations is to one day share this journey with my sons, guiding them as they develop their own businesses.
Millennials hold the potential to become the catalysts of positive change in our world. I hope to demonstrate to them that a bright future awaits if we embrace a paradigm shift in our consumption patterns, make conscious choices, and nurture a sustainable mindset that safeguards our future.
Find out more here: www.goodsheet.com.au