Founder Series: Soft launch highs and parking fine lows

Founder Series: Soft launch highs and parking fine lows

As someone who has always been incredibly interested by other entrepreneurs journeys and how they went about building their brands and businesses. I wanted to invite you on my own start up journey giving insight into the good & bad days, the wrong & right decisions, the happy & sad tears and everything in between with the hopes that you can learn more about SOS and be a part of it’s journey with me.

founder of sos talking

At this point during SOS, I was incredibly overwhelmed with just how much needed to be done to get anywhere close to running a successful business. In my mind, I wanted to essentially speed through all the small business mistakes and quickly get to a point where I had strong branding, an awesome website, lots of customers and SOS was a serious activewear contender!

Reality check!

The phrase 'Don't run before you can walk' springs to mind. 

I think it's a generational thing where thanks to the technology that we have grown up with, we are accustomed to efficiency and speed without much effort. It's really hard not to get impatient and anxious when things don't fall into place as quickly as you had hoped. Bringing this back to SOS there was a lot I had achieved but it didn't really feel that way and instead I could only focus on what needed to be done.

What I had achieved:

- I had a sample of each product with full production booked
- I had the backbones of a website
- I had my branding and packaging designed and purchased
- I had a soft launch date with family and friends 

Now in hindsight these are pretty big achievements but everything was a little unsettling for me and chaotic and yet despite working so hard to get to this point, I still felt miles away from actually making a reality out of my dream.

Where I wanted to be:

- I had no professional photography and my poor Iphone 7 wasn't cutting it so I needed to get proper content for my social media
- I wanted a website like other big brands (unrealistic and silly)
- I wanted more in my collection and more colours to launch with 

In short I felt like I had a long way to go and so much more to get done in a short space of time. With 100 million things going on, I now needed to plan a photoshoot and was also offered to attend a little pop up ahead of my official 'Soft Launch' at a local gym. A fantastic opportunity and trial run before my official soft launch and I am so grateful for this.

The high and low of my soft soft launch

I was so excited to host a little pop up at The Body Society - A lovely boutique gym in Fulham who kindly offered some space for me to have a rail up during their promo video shoot. 

I raced to order rails, hangers, brown bags, hangtags and a device that will allow me to take direct payments and it was a great run through ahead of my official soft launch. It was also here where I made my first ever 2 sales which were for the Terra Tie Top and it was so exciting, although strangely I felt like a fraudster as I had no experience but the two lovely customer reassured me that they were thrilled with there orders!

As with any high you feel when running a business it is almost certainly going to be followed by a low. This low came when I packaged up these orders and delivered them by hand...

I excitedly parked, ran into the customers building and as instructed I left their delivery with the concierge so thrilled and ecstatic to be dropping off my first ever sale!! I left with a huge smile on my face only to turn the corner and see a big yellow sticker on the windscreen of my car....I had received a parking ticket amounting to more than the revenue for both the 2 sales combined and I just had to have a little cry in my little Nissan Micra. 

This wasn't the first wall that I hit and it certainly wasn't my last. There are so many times when starting a business that you think you should stop and want to give up and truthfully this was one of those moments for me, but if you really believe in your idea you will keep trooping on!

The high and low of my actual soft launch 

So it was the morning of my official soft launch, I had sent a lot of invites to friends and family as well as setting up an Eventbrite where over 80 people (strangers) had said they would attend! (Later I learnt that for those people to attend it's much better to charge for the event... not one of those 80 came!) The alcohol was purchased, cocktails ready and I started setting up.

You would think this is a high and I must have been so excited and you would be right (despite the obvious nerves) and so naturally the low was inevitable...

I got changed, put on my SOS gear that had arrived the previous day and it is at that very moment my nightmare with the leggings began. I looked in the mirror and the design had changed that I hadn't tested. It resulted in an incredibly unflattering leg shape and I just knew no one would want to own a pair of leggings with such a feature. 

Given most of my savings has been spent on these leggings I was so upset, every pair had the same problem for the launch and over 50 had already been made at the manufacturers ready to sell. The high I was feeling completely dissolved away from my body. This also wasn't irrational and has caused me a huge amount of expense and stress ever since! More on that later...

I had 1 hour before the start of the launch and no choice but to put on a brave face, wipe away my tears and THE SHOW MUST GO ON! 

The launch was great, so many familiar faces came to support me and it was so lovely to hear so much positive feedback about SOS and the products. A lot of people placed pre-orders and I was so so thrilled. As predicted the leggings were an issue and became a headache for many months after but you'll have to stay tuned for more details on this.

I guess the purpose of this post is to highlight the highs and lows and what may seam perfect on the surface is certainly far from it. Starting a business is hard work both physically and mentally but you do truly learn from every challenge and hurdle thrown at you!

Up next I organise a photoshoot, get a terrible allergic reaction to something and start thinking about 'what next' with SOS.


Bronte Simm
Are you washing your activewear correctly?

Are you washing your activewear correctly?

Smol and sos activewear

We are all wearing activewear and loungewear more than ever before thanks to lockdown (We aren't complaining) but have you ever considered the damage your washing routine could be doing to your activewear if treated in the same way as your standard clothes? 

As a sustainable brand we strongly believe in the longevity of you clothes and doing everything to ensure they last as long as possible to avoid the need for replacing them time and time again. 

Here is a quick guide to how to treat your sustainable activewear after a sweaty session:

TIP 1: Give your kit time to breath

Although it is really tempting to strip off and throw your sweaty gym kit into the wash basket, we highly recommend giving it time to breath first to reduce the likelihood of bacteria sticking around and getting smelly.  

If your sweaty gym kit is thrown into a wash basket without giving it time to breath you essentially stop the sweat from being able to evaporate which then leads to the bacteria build up.

TIP 2: Wash Inside out

Not only will this protect the items from any pulls or snags in the wash it also ensures the most moist areas of clothing such as under the arm are more exposed in the wash.

Turning your clothes inside out will also help extract deodorant or creams that may be stuck into the fabric following your sweaty session. 

TIP 3: Use non-bio detergent and wash on a low temperature 

Where possible opting for non-bio detergent is much kinder to your sustainable activewear and at a lower temperature. Check your care label for the best conditions to wash your items in however as a rule of thumb we stick to 30°C or even 20°C which simultaneously helps lower your environmental impact and avoids ruining the elasticity of your sustainable activewear.

TIP 4: Choose a liquid detergent over powdered

Choosing a liquid detergent over a powder one can quadruple the life of your clothes as they are more gentle to the fabric. We also strongly suggest avoid using too much laundry detergent as this can damage the fibres. smol laundry capsules are perfect every-time and they recommend 1 capsule per wash for a standard load (5-6kg) and 2 capsules per wash for larger washing machines (8kg+)

TIP 5: Avoid using fabric softeners or conditioners 

Although the lovely smells are tempting and you may think they will leave your activewear smelling ultra fresh, they wont! Fabric softeners contain chemicals that will not only coat and clog the fibres of your sports clothes, but it will also reduce the absorbency of the fabric, making them less sweat resistant and stopping them from getting a good wash. So please please avoid them if you want your SOS Activewear to last!

HINT: 

For those extra stubborn stains or smelly patches our friends at smol recommend creating a paste made from equal parts lemon juice, cold water and salt. Add the paste to the stain and leave on for an hour. 

If you want to get the best detergent that also happens to be super sustainable and planet friendly check out smol and they have a free trial if you click here!

Bronte Simm
Do you drink sustainably?

Do you drink sustainably?

& no we don't mean are you drinking responsibly because we both know you already do this... ;) 
winreand t shirt on the beach


It's pretty common to associate plastic cups and straws when drinking and these can often be a nightmare to avoid especially when you are travelling. TIP: I often learn how to say 'NO PLASTIC PLEASE' in the language of the country I am in when ordering at the bar in the hopes to avoid them as well as bringing my own reusables of-course. 


BUT... 


Have you ever wondered what happens before your tipple of choice enters your glass and what effects your alcohol consumption may be having on the environment? 

With Christmas round the corner there is only one way to entertain your (limited amount of) guests and that's with extra scrumptious wine! 
We had a chat with our friends over at Sea Change Wine to find out more about this and what they are doing as a local business to help reduce the impact our drinking habits have on our planet! - Interview below:

How would you best describe Sea Change in a couple of sentences?


We are passionate about two things: protecting our oceans from plastic pollution and great tasting wine. Every bottle of Sea Change helps fund ocean conservation projects across the globe and our minimal packaging reduces waste and environmental impact.

What is the story behind how Sea Change was founded and where are you based?


Sea Change began as a conversation in 2018 with a customer who is based on the coast of British Columbia, Canada. The issue of plastic pollution in our oceans was becoming bigger and bigger and we started thinking about what we could do to take action. The conversation continued back in our Effingham (Surrey) office and Sea Change was born.

What is your mission as a business?

We created Sea Change as a way to do ‘our bit’ in the wine industry and we hope in time it will encourage change. Turning the tide on the juggernaut that is plastic pollution is only going to happen if we all make changes, even small ones, and we want Sea Change to be a way in which the wine you choose can play a role.

 

Most people wouldn’t think of glass bottles of wine to be that damaging to the environment. What do you guys focus on at Sea Change to ensure you limit the harmful impact your products have to our planet?


We have stripped back the ‘normal’ wine packaging by removing the unnecessary plastic wrap around the cork and choosing renewable cork closures. The materials for our labels come from certified sustainable forests (FSC) and are in part made from grape waste. Our Provence Rosé has a biodegradable cellulose label, a first for wine! We’ve also used lighter weight bottles where possible to reduce the weight for shipping and the amount of glass used.

What else does the business do aside from plastic free packaging that makes buying from Sea Change a more sustainable option?


For every bottle sold, a donation goes to ocean conservation charities. In the UK, this is Plastic Oceans UK and Sea-Changers. We’ve raised in excess of €60,000 so far which we’re really proud of. Plastic Oceans UK is our global charity partner, however we also partner with a local charity depending on where you purchase Sea Change. For example, if you purchase in Canada, a donation is made to Ocean Wise. They are based at the Vancouver Aquarium, with a mission to inspire the global community to become Ocean Wise by increasing understanding, wonder and appreciation for our oceans.

Where are your wines sourced and how is this ethical and conscious?


We have several winery partners in France and Italy, which are chosen based on their sustainability credentials and the quality of their wines. A common theme amongst them is a fusion of traditional and modern techniques to reduce waste and increase efficiency.

For example, our Whale label range comes from the wonderful Chateau Canet, who work under the protocol of ‘Terra Vitis’, an organisation which limits the impact on the environment by regulating procedures both outside in the vineyard and inside where the wine making happens. An example of one of their techniques is to release butterfly pheromones in the vineyard to discourage the very destructive Eudimis butterfly, a great alternative to pesticides.

In Southern Italy, our winery partner focuses on sustainable use of resources in their production processes, and promoting alternative uses for waste. They also advocate for the conservation of water wherever possible. Due to Puglia having a hot climate and vineyards requiring irrigation at times, they have invested in technology to monitor in minute detail the weather forecasts and moisture levels in the vineyards, combined with short-term and flexible irrigation planning, they are able to greatly reduce water waste.

Where can we buy Sea Change Wine?


We have an online shop on our website: www.seachangewine.com or it’s worth checking our stockists page for local stockists: www.seachangewine.com/stockists

What is your favourite Sea Change Wine?


That’s a difficult question and it changes based on what I’m eating and the weather. With us rapidly heading into winter, I’d grab a Negroamaro. It’s not a very well-known grape in the UK, but it should be! It’s a super fruity red, which pairs great with pizza and pasta…which I’m also a huge fan of! However if it’s sunny, it’s got to be the Provence Rosé.

What do you hope for the future of Sea Change?


The goal for Sea Change is very simple; to continue helping protect our oceans from plastic pollution. We hope to inspire change within the wine industry, but also help to make consumers aware of how their choices have an impact. To sustain our environment for future generations we all need to look at our current consumption choices and Sea Change gives people the opportunity to choose (and enjoy!) wine that does this.

Tell us a fun fact about the business!

One of the great things about us being a small business is that, once a year, we go on a company trip, often to visit one of our winery partners. We’ve been lucky enough to have visits to Italy, France and Spain in recent years. Last year we went to Verona and one of the highlights was a re-enactment of a colleague’s proposal to his wife in front of the Verona Arena!

So there you have it! What an achievement and a brilliant business helping us drink more consciously.


We can not wait to place another order with them! I fell in love with the Provence Rosé this summer and couldn't recommend more!

Bronte Simm
Founder Series: Brand Building

Founder Series: Brand Building

As someone who has always been incredibly interested by other entrepreneurs journeys and how they went about building their brands and businesses. I wanted to invite you on my own start-up journey giving insight into the good & bad days, the wrong & right decisions, the happy & sad tears and everything in between with the hopes that you can learn more about SOS and be a part of its journey with me.

Bronte Simm
Founder Series: From an idea to a physical product

Founder Series: From an idea to a physical product

As someone who has always been incredibly interested by other entrepreneurs journeys and how they went about building their brands and businesses. I wanted to invite you on my own start up journey giving insight into the good & bad days, the wrong & right decisions, the happy & sad tears and everything in between with the hopes that you can learn more about SOS and be a part of it’s journey with me.

Bronte Simm
Plastic Free July +

Plastic Free July +

It’s brilliant that there is a month dedicated to being plastic-free, but why stop there? We have written out some simple swaps that will help ensure giving up plastic is a lot easier.

Bronte Simm
Founder Series: Where did the idea for SOS come from?

Founder Series: Where did the idea for SOS come from?

As someone who has always been incredibly interested by other entrepreneurs journeys and how they went about building their brands and businesses. I wanted to invite you on my own start up journey giving insight into the good & bad days, the wrong & right decisions, the happy & sad tears and everything in between with the hopes that you can learn more about SOS and be a part of its journey with me.

Bronte Simm
Why are sustainable brands more expensive?

Why are sustainable brands more expensive?

In a world where we are so familiar with flash sales, continuous discounts and accessible clothing purchased through a few clicks, it is often strange and unfamiliar to pay full price for products. We are surrounded constantly by big neon SALE signs, % OFF emails and HURRY! Limited time only messages that have resulted in a world, where fast fashion is very much the norm and buying on trend items frequently is acceptable because A) It’s fashionable right now and B) It’s cheap so you don’t need to feel guilty about it, right?…Wrong.

The ugly truth is that this level of consumption is having a drastically negative effect to our environment and fast fashion according to Eco Watch is the second dirtiest industry in the world. The reality is that trends live fast and die quickly leaving huge and unmanageable amounts of waste in their wake with an estimated £140 million worth of clothing ending up in landfills every single year.

The core reason fast fashion attracts so many, comes down to affordability and speed. Ordering something that you have seen across your social media or online and having it in your hands the next day at a minimum cost to your bank balance is very tempting. So the question is as more and more people are starting to investigate where their clothes come from and are becoming more consciously driven with their spending, what is it that makes sustainable brands so much more expensive and why should your money be spent here and not in the fast fashion industry?

We want to help answer this question and break down why sustainability comes with a high price tag.

1. Sustainability and sustainable brands are still pretty niche

Like with most things the bigger the demand for something the more affordable and accessible it will become . Livia Frith the founder of Eco-Age says to think of sustainable fashion like organic food, "At the beginning it was so expensive, but the more people bought into it, the more the prices went down and then it became widespread," This will become more true with sustainable brands and affordability. At SOS for example we feel the hit with the high costs of sustainable fabrics, every meter purchased is more than triple the amount of your standard common harmful fabrics which is even more of a problem as a small brand who is unable to commit to bulk orders. The more demand increases for sustainable alternatives the more affordable this will be for the brands and as a result the garments will become more affordable to the consumer. Create this demand and you will see the prices fall in time.

2. Cost of Labour

To be a sustainable brand especially for us here at SOS it goes way beyond just using sustainable fabrics that help reduce the amount of plastics in our ocean. To be sustainable for us means to be both sustainable and ethical throughout our whole production process. We ensure we pay fair wages to those behind the making of SOS which in return pushes up the cost of our end products. Fast Fashion brands are known for unfair wages, unethical and sometimes even dangerous working conditions which allows us to buy clothes that are cheap and to be frank… we’d rather not.

3. Sustainable Packaging

Wrapping clothes in plastic for delivery is a cheap option and means fast fashion brands don’t have to take the hit when ensuring your orders get to you in one piece. Sustainable alternatives that include ethically and sustainably sourced materials and recycled and recyclable packaging that limits the negative impact on the environment comes with a price tag because again the demand isn’t big enough to drive down these costs and the process involved in creating these sustainable alternatives are higher. The cost of sustainable fulfillment is also part of what a customer pays for when shopping with a sustainable brands and in doing so ultimately reduces the amount of trees cut down and plastic ending up in our oceans or landfills.

4. Sustainable means it’s made to last

Buying cheap clothes comes at a price in its own right. Fast fashion brands use cheap materials and low quality materials that will wear out after only a few uses. Whether it’s frayed ends, ripped buttons, discoloring or even miss shaping you will ultimately only get brief satisfaction from these buys and will have to seek alternatives or re purchase over and over again which can amount overall to a lot of money. Buying sustainable garments and products means you are buying something that will last you for a really long time. Sustainable brands seek out the highest quality materials and highest quality manufacturers to make their products reliable, durable and ultimately last you a long long time to avoid more waste ending up in landfills! To invest in these fabrics and high quality manufacturers costs a lot of money which again impacts the final cost of goods sold.

We are very proud to partner with ECONYL® regenerated Nylon who are on a mission to not only reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans and from ending up in landfill by transforming them into their original purity but who are also working towards an infinite regeneration process where once the products that contain ECONYL® are finished with they can be regenerated and used infinitely ensuring no waste.

Bronte Simm
Our guide to a plastic free sustainable period

Our guide to a plastic free sustainable period

There are so many sustainable alternatives to everyday essentials now which is fantastic to see, yet what is more essential every month for us women than sanitary/period products?! A truth none of us care for but a reality nonetheless! 

It’s estimated that us women get through roughly 32 products PER period amounting to approximately 200kgs (11,000‐16,000 tampons and pads) of waste in each individual lifetime either going to landfills or down the toilet and 200,000 tonnes worldwide. Menstrual products can take up to 1000 years to break down based on research similar to plastic bags, meaning your periods will live on and on and on causing havoc beyond the pesky period pains!

We wanted to put together a quick guide on how you can make your period more sustainable and kinder to the planet and yourselves. We know everyone has different needs, different flows and different lifestyles that require different products and we hope this will offer a solution to suit you and your period. 

SUSTAINABLE TAMPONS:

Let’s start with what we all know and are familiar with… THE TAMPON. In this case it’s the sustainable tampon that offers you an Eco-friendly, healthy and kind alternative to the conventional toxic tampon...yes toxic! Did you know that the tampons we are familiar with and see in pretty much every supermarket and beauty store worldwide are typically made up of a mix of rayon, polyester and non-organic cotton that can be harmful to your vagina and body! We have selected a couple of our favourite UK based companies that offer sustainable and biodegradable tampons that put you first!

ohne made of 100% organic cotton and absolutely nothing else - ohne really care about your vagina offering period and cycle-care products delivered direct to your door, whenever you need 'em, and a community of like-minded babes at your fingertips - literally. ohne stock regular, super, and super+ tampons and you can mix n' match your box to get exactly the number of each absorbency that you want when you want it, whether that’s every 4 weeks or 7, they have you covered. ohne focus on being a community and In their own words ‘ohne are there for you throughout your entire cycle, not just the five or so days a month that you're bleeding from your vagina’

Grace & Green is made from 100% organic ingredients that put safety first. Committed to women’s health, the environment, and tackling period poverty, Grace & Green have really focused on the science behind healthy sustainable periods and put the planet and you first. With products including liners, pads, non-applicator tampons and applicator tampons and the option for both a subscription service for ease of use or one time purchases as and when you need, they really have ensured hassle free and healthy periods.

THE MENSTRUAL CUP:

The menstrual cup is really a unique alternative to the more common sanitary products we are perhaps more familiar with yet millions of women around the world swear by them and have made the switch from pads and tampons permanently so we wanted to investigate the hype and give this product some valid air time! Put simply, it is a little cup that you insert into your vagina to collect the blood and after 4-8 hours (depending on your flow)  you simply empty the cup into a toilet or sink and wash it out, then insert it again - easy peasy.

Here are a couple of our recommended brands:

Mooncup® - Made from soft, medical-grade silicone this cup has been designed so you won't even know it’s there! The Mooncup holds 3 x more than a regular tampon, so it gives you longer lasting protection on heavier days + it’s non-absorbent, so won’t

cause dryness when your period’s light. Arguably the best thing about the Mooncup is that it will last for years and years meaning you dramatically reduce the waste you produce. Their sizing is also super easy to navigate with Size A for those who are 30 and over + anyone who has given birth vaginally, Size B is for those who are under 30 and haven’t given birth vaginally -simple.

The Mooncup is manufactured in the UK to the highest quality standards. They also also offer an advice service run by medical health professionals to help you make the switch and given the recent news about the potential negative effects of using a menstrual cup, Mooncup has given information about this - here

OrganiCup mission is, besides being as sustainable as possible, to make products for and with the people who use them. They are committed to honest, simple and transparent communication and try to create a community where you feel secure to ask questions and talk freely about periods and your body. Offering all of the sustainable benefits that come with a menstrual cup, OrganiCup have also gone the extra mile as they use recyclable carton for the packaging and we have printed the instructions directly onto the packaging to eliminate additional waste from a brochure and the storage bag is made from organic cotton. Win win win.

PERIOD UNDERWEAR:

Not really a tampon or cup kinda girl and prefer pads? No problem, we are all different but did you know pads actually contain more plastic than tampons with an estimated 5 plastic bags worth for every pack!Don’t worry though as there are sustainable solutions to this with both biodegradable pads  and period pants! Period pants are pretty much what they say on the tin, pants that are super absorbent and can be relied on during your period without the need for pads or tampons. For the days you just want complete comfort without any faff, these are certainly the answer & don’t worry they’re very hygienic!

WUKA, which stands for Wake Up Kick Ass is a company that allows you to have a comfortable, Eco-friendly, and secure period ensuring you will no longer need to buy pads and tampons every month (Phew) . With WUKA, you have the convenience of having reusable pants in your draw, so when you start to bleed, you can grab a pair and carry on with your day and save money in the process! WUKA care about their customers and their periods and have listened to what girls and women want which is why they have provided us with period pants that care for both you and the environment simultaneously. Their pants were also the first to be vegan certified! Win

MODIBODY are a really sweet brand who offer both protective, leak-proof apparel, underwear & swimwear for periods but also incontinence. They are on a mission to give all bodies more confidence and comfort, as well as a more sustainable solution to disposable hygiene.

What we particularly love about Modibodi is that they offer a range for active people that want to work out confidently and not worry about their time of the month or any embarrassing leaks not to mention they offer odor eliminating technologies which we could certainly all use after a good workout!

REUSABLE TAMPON APPLICATOR:

Such an amazing idea and really does help conclude this post that there is a sustainable option out there for everyone! We actually did a beach clean recently in Devon and found a few tampon applicators so understand how bad this problem is! There is now a solution to this problem with the first reusable tampon applicator by DAME. This little applicator made from Mediprene easily and comfortably inserts a tampon meaning you can continue life as normal knowing that every period you have is more sustainable and planet friendly!

 

Something for everyone - Save Our Seas.

DISCLAIMER - We understand period poverty is an incredibly real and distressing issue. & we are only suggesting considering different period products if you have the means to do so.

Bronte Simm
Greenwashing: What it is & how to avoid it

Greenwashing: What it is & how to avoid it

Greenwashing is everywhere. Consumers are increasingly seeking sustainable brands to shop with and corporations are jumping on this behaviour for profitable gain. This blog posts looks into how the sustainable brands you shop with may not be as ethical and environmentally friendly as you think and how to avoid greenwashong.

Bronte Simm
small-shop-cartoon

What it means to support small businesses

Ever wondered why small businesses and start up brands often have slightly more premium prices compared with larger corporations? In our case the challenge with ensuring affordable sustainable activewear. This short blog post discusses the positives that come from supporting small and local businesses from both an economic perspective and the environment as well as a little insight into the barriers small brands face…

Bronte Simm
What does Biodegradable really mean?

What does Biodegradable really mean?

Have you ever seen on the side of a single use coffee cup or a plastic bag the term ‘Biodegradable’ and thought to yourself ‘that’s great news!’, well you’re not alone however there are some misconceptions here and we want you to be aware of them…

Bronte Simm