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 ground up.
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 about.”
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 their business.
“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 this process.”
If you have been inspired by Mikaela’s story and would like to see how Enterprise Hub can help you start your own business, then get in touch with us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org