Finding herself at a crossroads following a redundancy opportunity from her 20-year career at a well-known fashion retailer, Mikaela King decided to take some time out to focus on her next chapter – little did she know that she would be launching her own eco-friendly business in the midst of a global pandemic.
|Mikaela King - Founder of The Unwaste
Following the opportunity for redundancy, Mikaela King left
her role in Digital Transformation and Technology, allowing her time to explore
her strengths, visions and more importantly what a different work life could
look like. It was during this time that she was inspired by several authors who
wrote about making a career out of their passions.
With good working knowledge of business and marketing
practices, she was keen to have a go at building her own business from the
Already making steps to become more conscious about her
impact on the environment, it was changes she had been making at home without
realising that led to her business concept.
Mikaela told us: “I had started to make some eco swaps at
home, so was keen to do more in this space. One night, the idea just popped
into my head – I pictured myself throwing plastic bottles of everyday household
cleaning products into the recycling bin, with not many eco-alternatives
In May, she launched The Unwaste, offering eco-friendly
milkman style refills of plant based, vegan household cleaning liquids. The
business model offers clients the opportunity to take a step towards curbing
climate change through a convenient and easy to use service.
Initially struggling with confidence in her own
entrepreneurial abilities, she was referred to The Women’s Organisation by a
friend. Through the Enterprise Hub programme, she was paired with Senior
Business Adviser Jacqueline Daley for 1-2-1 support, along with having access
to a range of courses to help with business planning and finances.
Having someone to reach out to during moments of doubt was
invaluable for Mikaela during the first initial stages of starting up.
She told us: “Jacqueline put me at ease straight away and
listened to my situation and my idea and helped me put down some next steps and
a plan to move forward. All the sessions were really enjoyable and gave me the
chance to meet other likeminded people in a similar situation, some of which I
kept in touch with.”
Like many start-ups, Mikaela went in with minimal
investment, relying in Facebook and Instagram to promote her business and
whilst the first initial response was positive – things soon started to get
quiet as she exhausted her social circle.
“Jacqueline advised me to network more to grow reach which I
found quite daunting as I am a natural introvert and it wasn’t something I’ve
had to do before. I was way out of my comfort zone and worried that other
businesses would not want to help me or share knowledge in case it threatened
“I braved it out and contacted other small business owners, local support networks and like-minded businesses and the response was fantastic, people want to help and are so generous with their time and resources”
Together with support from The Women’s Organisation, she has
been able to successfully launch and grow a business during a global pandemic.
Expanding her reach across Liverpool and now Wirral, Mikaela
is regularly adding new products to her stock and is in talks with other
businesses to potentially use and sell her products on their premises.
It is early days for the ‘green’ business sector, with many
unknowns to what an eco-business might look like in the future – but with the
vast benefits green and eco businesses offer its likely that more companies are going to be adapting to run more
efficiently and effectively in the future.
For Mikaela, continuing to raise awareness through her
products is at the heart of her business.
She told us: “I am hopeful The Unwaste is helping to force
the change in consumer behaviour that’s much needed, albeit a very small
contribution to a very large problem. My vision is to increase awareness of the
problem, being a catalyst of change towards more conscious consumerism”
The impact of COVID19 has forced businesses to bring their operations to a standstill – leaving many to think that starting a business right now could end in failure. Mikaela is giving aspiring entrepreneurs hope that it is possible to successfully get started during this current climate and adapt to the needs of the “new normal”
Entrepreneurship can lead people down many different paths –
what has self-employment taught Mikaela about herself?
“I’ve come to recognise that entrepreneurs come in all
different shapes and sizes and there is so much you have to discover, learn and
do during the business start-up process I’ve realised I am more capable than I
give myself credit for - one of the many things I’ve discovered about myself during