When did you set up your business and why?
We launched Ecoset in November 2020 at the height of the pandemic. It was a risky decision, but one we felt was right at the time.
Ecoset is an e-commerce business, so we were quite lucky when we launched, as consumer behaviour had changed dramatically because of restrictions and more people were buying online than ever before.
The idea for Ecoset came about in 2019. We also run a TV production services company called Location Fixer Ireland, which offers international productions that are filming in Ireland essential production support, local crew, location scouting and permitting, etc.
As with most TV and film productions, the person count on set can be large with all of the cast and crew, so single-use plastics, especially plastic water bottles, can quickly mount up.
It was always something we struggled with, especially when we were filming in some of Ireland’s most remote and epic locations. So we decided to ensure that all productions we were linked with worked in a more eco-friendly manner.
The first step was to get rid of plastic water bottles. This is where our idea for Ecoset stemmed from.
After COVID hit, many of our US productions were put on hold and we had the time to fully focus on Ecoset as a brand.
We quickly decided to pivot the brand and go out to the general consumer, with the focus for Ecoset being a selection of reusable products for an eco-friendly mindset.
We also decided to offer a customisable laser engraving service to our customers. We partnered with Clean Coasts early on to support them for all the great work they do protecting our oceans and coastline.
Ecoset donates back to the Clean Coasts grant scheme, which provides support and equipment for beach clean volunteers throughout Ireland.
Can you explain the process of engraving your products?
I am head of operations and laser engraver at Ecoset. All our engraving is done by me in our workshop in Wicklow. We use a laser engraving machine, which etches out the design on the powder coating of our products, resulting in a high-end silver finish.
We don’t outsource our engraving to a third party like other companies, which means you get a quicker turnaround and a more personalised inclusive service.
I would consider myself a bit of a perfectionist and I always want to ensure that every detail is perfect in the initial stages of the engraving process.
I taught myself how to use the design software CAD to do our mock-ups to ensure customers can see how their engraving will look on our products in advance.
I also trained myself up on our laser engraving software prior to launching in 2020. It has been a big learning curve.
Each product that is engraved has a different laser focal point, power, frequency and speed in order to get that perfect finish.
The colour of our products also has a big factor on the time it takes to engrave, as lighter colours can take up to eight minutes each to engrave a logo or picture.
We would always inspect, polish and package each product before they are packed and shipped to customers. All our packaging is zero plastic and eco-friendly, even down to our tape, which is made with recycled paper and vegetable gum!
Excellent customer service is key to any business and this all starts in our workshop. It is great when we get positive feedback, comments and emails from customers thanking us when they receive their order.
What is your best seller?
We have a couple of best sellers. Our Flasket water bottles range is hugely popular, as is our travel mug range and our wine sets and food pots.
This year we have added lots of new colours across our product ranges. What makes Ecoset different from other brands is our customisable laser engraving service.
What is it about your business that brings you joy?
Knowing that our products are helping reduce single-use plastics is very important to me.
When we set up Ecoset, we had a clear mission that was to accelerate the use of reusable products. Reduce the use of single-use plastics. Keep our oceans and coastlines plastic-free for future generations.
We have two young sons and we live by the sea in Greystones, so we are hugely aware of the impact of plastic waste on our beaches. Customer feedback has been hugely positive since we launched and that is very much down to our focus on a high standard of our products and our customer service.
Another thing I like about our business is working with customers on a bespoke engraving idea they may have. Making their idea become a reality is hugely rewarding.
It has also been great working with well-known Irish brands such as Barry’s tea on its branded reusable travel mugs.
What are your hopes for 2022?
We have had a busy 2022 already. We worked for months on developing our new website that just launched at the end of August.
We wanted our customers to have a better user experience on our site and make the personalisation feature easier to use on our product pages.
We also just launched a new kids’ range of mini flaskets, where kids can choose to add an illustration to add to their bottle along with their name. It’s a fun and unique feature for them and includes them in the design of their own bottle.
We are also focused on expanding our corporate co-branding side of our business. We were delighted to be asked by RTÉ, for the second year running, to provide co-branded sustainable products for the launch of its new autumn season.
We also launched some new reusable products that are new to the Irish market this September.
What advice would you give to another start-up business?
The main piece of advice I would give is to learn all aspects of your business so you don’t have to rely on anyone.
You need to know your business inside and out, but also don’t be afraid to ask for help from the professionals when you need it.
Running your own business is always challenging. You rarely have any down time, it can be seven days a week.
When we launched in November 2020, we had to do everything ourselves. You are the marketeer, web developer, the managing director, the customer service person, the delivery person, the engraver, etc. It can be exhausting, but also hugely rewarding.
Myself and Sarah make a great team and bring different strengths to the business. We are looking forward to the next phase of the business and have exciting plans for the future of Ecoset.