Pivoting again

With my office full of hand and body care inventory, I’ve decided to pivot again. This time, I’m pivoting from a Business to Business model (B2B) to a Business to Consumer model (B2C).

The reality is that I really don’t have a choice as the travel industry has come to a screaming halt without an end date and hair salons are also struggling to stay open. I’m not even sure if my few retail customers will honour their original orders at this stage.

Introducing Harvestcare

So, I’m pivoting and I finally have everything I need to do so except for my website which I’m still working on and will be located here when ready. Doing a B2C model will require a lot more work for selling and shipping, but right now my time isn’t worth anything. Therefore, I might as well give it a go.

After all, that back-up plan I had about finding a job if I couldn’t make it work as an entrepreneur isn’t looking very good right now either. So, I pretty much have no choice now. It’s either pivot and try to do something regardless of this crazy world or risk losing everything.

Hotel Amenity Pilot is a Go

It’s a go for our non-plastic hotel amenity pilot! While I won’t make a dime from this 1 month pilot (and will likely lose some money), it’s worth it to test the solutions that we are considering right now.

There are so many little things to consider such as how easy it is to dent our aluminium tins. About half of the tins from one sample pack that came in via Amazon.com.au showed up with dents or scratches.

I’m also considering the labelling requirements. I want to print right on the packaging from the start, but it costs a lot more to do this with small volumes. However, using a compostable paper labels isn’t possible because it’s not waterproof – a “no no” in bathrooms where they might discard unused tins only because the wet label makes it look used.

Right now, I think I’m going to have to order two lots of tins. Some that are blank, and then I buy plastic labels to hand place on them. And others that have the printing on them from the start. This will allow us to test the printing capabilities during the pilot itself.

The buzz of winning work

It’s strange that when I used to win multi-million dollar contracts back in my IT days, it never gave me a buzz like it gave other sales people. I was more proud of the proposals I turned in that solved a customer’s problems, and therefore it didn’t mater it we won or lost to me even though I would only be rewarded if we won.

For this hotel amenity pilot, I’m excited even though it will likely cost me more than I make to do this. It’s the fact that a hotel is willing to take a chance on my crazy idea that can really reduce the amount of single-use plastic in hotels locally and nationally if I move fast enough. It’s the potential impact down the road that is giving me a buzz. How awesome would it be to literally change the hotel industry’s practices to benefit the environment!

Reducing plastic waste in hotels

I’ve been working on another project for nearly two months. This one is purposely designed for reducing plastic waste in hotels. As a natural wanderer, I usually take two to three overseas trips a year. I love exploring new places and food and staying in nice hotels.

So, when some of the major hotels made public commitments to reduce their plastic waste, I wondered what they would do. Many have opted to use dispensers or larger bottles.

However, I’ve never been a fan of these myself. For one, it’s too easy for people to tamper with the refillable bottles when they are staying in private rooms. Can you imagine the temptation for pranksters to put bodily fluids or something worse into those bottles?

It also doesn’t support the higher end brands who have worked so hard to build a certain feel. To me, a dispenser on the wall feels more like a locker room shower rather than a four or five-star luxury hotel no matter how fancy the bottles are.

Furthermore, many travellers like to take home the little hotel amenities as souvenirs from their holidays and perhaps to use them at the gym or while camping later. I personally stockpiled them for my own guests when I had a bigger home. It made their stay feel a little more luxurious then my normal guest bedroom.

So, what to do? I’ve already presented some alternative packaging ideas to a few hotels in Canberra, and they’ve been very receptive. If all goes well, I hope to get a commitment to run a pilot soon.

The main challenge for me right now is not the packaging, it’s the cost of all natural ingredients for the products themselves. While many hotels are not as concerned about what’s on the inside of the container, I am. I cannot with good conscious offer a product to reduce plastic waste and put something in it that’s not just as eco-friendly.

If I can overcome these cost barriers by doing more of the work myself or perhaps partnering with a local business (discussions still in progress), then I feel like we can have something ready to go as early as next month.

Fingers crossed! I need a few more things to line up first, but this idea to reduce plastic waste in hotels seems to have a solid customer demand.

Making plastic things

Becoming the maker

I’m not a natural maker. What I mean by this is that I’m not someone who has spent a lot of time making things with my hands. Instead I’ve been the one that typically brings together makers to make something or to achieve a goal.

I’ve been trying to make things from recycled plastic for close to a year now by outsourcing the manufacturing to other people. It drives me nuts that I still don’t have anything to sell because I am so dependent on others with much slower processes.

If I need anything digitally done, I can get it down in 1 to 3 days. Yet, when I’ve tried to get a physical sample of something, it’s taken months. Try to design something from scratch? Months again. Repurpose a private label product? In Australia, it’s going on 2 months of just trying to get the right info because everyone seems to take their time.

I’m starting to realise that I might have to become the maker. It just takes way too long, not to mention cost to get anyone to do anything here. Maybe it would be different elsewhere, but I just don’t understand why the manufacturing process has to be so slow for makers when China can build an entire hospital in a week.

It’s no wonder that we struggle to be competitive against them. So, as I look forward, I think that I’m going to have to be a maker and do more of this myself at least in the short to medium term if I want to see any progress.

Experiment #3: plastic air bubbles

Following on the back of Experiment #1 and #2, this next Plastic Experiment #3 is designed to see if I can remove the plastic air bubbles by blasting the melted plastic with a heat gun afterwards. This idea was given to me by a friend who used this technique with something else.

The results were encouraging for the small silicon mould that I used. Unfortunately, I also accidentally melted the mould in this process too. The difference is very obvious in the green sections below.

Pineapples in recycled plastic

Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well for a larger piece that I tried to make in a baking tin.

Bubbles in plastic

This muffin size piece of plastic weighs about 2k and is made from nearly 100 bottlecaps. As I can see once again, the larger the piece, the harder to control the plastic air bubbles – especially on the top without pressure. Unfortunately the form was also slightly disformed just like my previous square silicon mould test – a product of HDPE’s features when it cools down.

Conclusion for Plastic Experiment #3. Plastic air bubbles will continue to be an issue especially with larger pieces with HDPE if I do not use a pressurised mould. I wonder though whether or not I can use a millsaw to cut the plastic to smooth out the rougher edges? Next test!