WHETHER it’s the impact of fast fashion or plastic pollution, the shopping industry isn’t always seen as the most ethical. But mother
WHETHER it’s the impact of fast fashion or plastic pollution, the shopping industry isn’t always seen as the most ethical.
But mother and daughter duo Loral, 47, and Eishel Quinn, 23, are on a mission to change all that – by encouraging shoppers to donate their spare change to charity every time they shop.
Their website Sustainably, which links with your bank cards, asks shoppers to round up their purchases to the nearest pound – with the extra pennies going to their chosen charity.
But it’s not been easy getting the business off the ground, with the duo doing everything from cleaning toilets to putting their homes on Airbnb to make end’s meet.
Loral, who used to work in digital marketing, spoke exclusively to Fabulous Digital for #BOSSINGIT, our series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.
The single mum, from Edinburgh, Scotland, said: “Before Sustainably I was working in digital marketing for a FTSE 100 business, travelling every week to London, Europe, Asia and the US.
“The cabin crew would always come through the flight and ask for donations from leftover currency – that’s where we got the idea.
“At the same time, Eishel was working in ethical retail.
“There were a lot of post-it notes on the kitchen walls while we were brainstorming.
“We applied to get into an accelerator programme called Entrepreneurial Spark and decided if we got in there we would quit our jobs, and we did.
“That was in February 2016. We launched the first product for Monzo customers in May 2017.”
We were super skint – we were cleaning toilets to make end’s meet
The pair eventually bagged a £50,000 Virgin Start-Up Loan and further £50,000 grant funding to get their business off the ground – but daily life was a struggle until then.
Loral said: “We were super skint – we were cleaning toilets to make end’s meet.
“My boyfriend had to rent out his flat to move in with me, it was pretty grim being an Airbnb hostess while trying to build a product.
“There have been low points. You have to do everything you can to keep going.
“I had to sell my car, my poor boyfriend borrowed his parents’ car so I could borrow his, it’s just chaos.
“We worked from a café for a while, they got a bit sick of us and we eventually got out own office space.
“It was really tough until we eventually got our investors at the end of last year.”
Sometimes it’s really long days. You’ll work 17 hours and it’s like ‘oh my God, I’m broken’
Sustainably is re-launching on July 1 and will be connected to 17 of the UK’s biggest banks – while supporting 50 different charities.
Businesses will be encouraged to match what their employees and shoppers are donating every day.
They’re set to make £100,000 this year – by charging businesses a usage fee, so they can see the charities their customers care about.
Charities will also pay 20p per supporter per month in the early days.
Loral, who has seven full-time staff including herself and Eishel, said: “Sometimes it’s really long days.
“You’ll work 17 hours and it’s like ‘oh my God, I’m broken’. But creating a product is amazing when it’s actually in the market.”
Thinking working with your mother or daughter sounds like a nightmare? For Loral it’s the total opposite.
She said: “Doing it with my daughter is a definite highlight, we’re doing this crazy thing together and we have an amazing team of people who are working with us now.
“That’s what gets me out of bed every day. To have other people there sharing the pain and really believing in what we’re doing.
“Eishel and I are brutally honest with each other, it can be tough but it’s good.
“We fight but we don’t really fall out and we both have completely different skill sets, which is really helpful.
“I set up partnerships, business development and work with investors. While Eishel is the product officer and in charge of user experience.
“I couldn’t do what she does, and she wouldn’t want to do what I do.”
Loral's advice to other businesswomen
Trial & error: Test out your product before you give up your day job.
We created our own website and the first version of the product, to run it past people before we actually spent the money on it.
Be passionate: You have to really love what you’re trying to do. It’s really tough.
Get a business partner: If you can find someone to do it with then do, I think doing it on your own would be super lonely and really tough.
Stick to your guns: You have to be prepared to put in the hours. You have to be really committed to stick to your vision.
There are people who say to me now ‘now I get it’. You just have to stick to your guns and not be told you can’t do it, otherwise you’d never do anything.
Hollywood’s Ashton Kutcher was among a panel who chose Sustainably as a winner at the WeWork Creator Awards.
While Virgin boss Richard Branson is personally mentoring Loral.
She said: “It was really amazing for us to meet Ashton Kutcher and Richard Branson, he’s a big supporter of what we do.
“For me, this is a really simple way to make an impact.
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“There are so many charities you wouldn’t think abut supporting, and this is a simple way to give money.”
In last week’s Bossing It, we spoke to a mum who was left homeless after her parents kicked her out for getting pregnant – now she runs three businesses making £900k a year.
You can pre-register for Sustainably now and send your charity suggestions to the company.