HERD makes hardworking reusable bags from waste plastic bottles.  The bags come in a range of sizes in joyful and vibrant designs.  Each bag is wipe clean, has a zipped internal pocket and a double cotton handle for easy carrying.  HERD was launched in 2019 by Nancy Powell.  After working with a range of well known brands on sustainability Nancy took all that she learnt about bags, packaging and brands to launch HERD.   She has three young children and is Chief Herder in her house.

EPISODE NOTES

**Please remember to rate and review the podcast – it really helps others to find it.**

Today I’m talking to Nancy Powell the entrepreneur and founder of HERD bags, a globally stocked brand of bright, joyful, reusable bags made from recycled plastic bottles. 

We talk about what drove Nancy to set up her business, working with recycled materials, and ways that Nancy plans to further reduce the impact of manufactured products and close the loop.

Listen in to hear Nancy share:

  • An introduction to herself and her business (1:14)
  • The inspiration behind creating a sustainable product (4:27)
  • The importance of flexible working hours in setting up her own business (7:00)
  • The appeal of bags as a product (9:31)
  • Why sustainability was a key part of the business vision (11:53)
  • Whether working with recycled materials presents more challenges (13:47)
  • The importance of working with other women balancing professional and home life (16:24)
  • Finding the right suppliers to work with, as a small business (19:08)
  • Managing a global team (27:39)
  • Using Instagram and local networks to build her team (30:51)
  • The environmental impact of HERD and future plans for closing the loop (41:10)
  • Working with wholesalers (50:42)
  • Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (1:05:02)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

HERD Bags Website

HERD Bags on Facebook

HERD Bags on Instagram

Nancy Powell on LinkedIn

LET’S CONNECT

Find me on Instagram

Work with me 

Transcript
undefined:

Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg. Today I am so pleased and excited to have Nancy Powell from HERD. Join me on the podcast.HERD make hardwearing, reusable bags from waste plastic bottles. The bags come in a range of sizes in joyful and vibrant designs. Each bag is wipe clean has a zipped internal pocket and a double cost in handle for easy carrying HERD was launched in 2019 by Nancy and after working with a range of well-known brands on sustainability. Nancy took all that she learned about bags, packaging, and brands to launch HERD, and she has three young children herself.

Vicki Weinberg:

I absolutely loved this conversation with Nancy. We talk a lot about sustainability and creating sustainable products. Um, I found it all fascinating. Interesting, and I really hope you enjoyed this conversation. Well, hi Nancy. Thank you so much for being here.

Nancy Powell:

Thank you for inviting me.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, you're welcome. Um, can we start by you giving instructions to your self, your business and what you do?

Nancy Powell:

Um, yes, absolutely. Well, thank you. Um, thank you so much for asking me to be on your podcast. That's um, that's helped me, as I just said to you, I'll find that this is my first one. So this is quite an adventure for me. My name is Nancy Powell. I am the founder of HERD bags. In fact, this is a HERD back it's, a recycled bag that bag's made from recycled products. They are all designed to be largest inside for swimming lessons, shopping, whatever you like, but they're sizable bags. They have internal pockets. So you can store your keys or your phone or your change or whatever. Um, but they're made from recycled materials. So the principle is that you can use this for anything, but it is reusing what would otherwise be waste materials. And the, the other idea is that the design, uh, in vibrant and joyful colors, I think lots of the things before I launched HERD, I noticed that, you know, you go to the football pitch and watch your children play football, or it's something that everybody's got their things brief, super shopper or their marks and Spencer's forthe shopper. And, um, lots of the things that we do with the bags might not be that joyful and that's exciting, but I think that the bags should bring some joy and some color and some vibrant feature to the more mundane things that we do in life. Um, so it's, uh, it's the idea of, um, Great useful, helpful product, but also using, um, waste materials that would otherwise just be well being in the ocean or going into landfill. So I find it had a couple of years ago, we have 10 designs. Eight of them are in 100% recycled material, which is 16 plastic water bottle. There are three different sizes of the bags, small, medium, and notch, or have an internal pocket. And we sell online at the moment and through direct customer through the online store. But increasingly we have hotel customers, lots of stores throughout the UK. Small gifts stores, um, museum gift shop like I will. And museum gift shop increasingly stores in Asia, Japan, Conrad stores in Japan, stock them, um, a few stores in Korea. And recently a few more stores in the USA as well. So they go through wholesale, they go direct to customer and yeah, that's that's me

Vicki Weinberg:

Okay. Thank you so much. Just a brilliant overview. Um, and I've got stop if that's okay. Cause there's lots of points to talk to you about Nancy. So can you just start by telling us, um, obviously it's really clear that you know, what your products are for and what they're about. So what was the actual inspiration to create them though? I kind of get that you want to create something using recycled material and bags are useful as well as beautiful, but what inspired you to actually start that business?

Nancy Powell:

Oh, lots of things. I think. Um, well, my background personally was in corporate sustainability, so I worked for free. Um, I worked for Nestle. I worked overseas in Asia for five years. We lived in Singapore and I worked for a range of different companies there. Um, and corporate sustainability obviously looks at the whole impact of a company and its product and working in retail. A lot of my time with them on packaging and bags, I was at Sainsbury's when they did that. Andy Hindmarsh, I'm not a plastic bag campaign. Um, I spent a lot of time working on bags for life, so it's a lot of time looking at different packaging materials. So that was always in mind. I always noticed those things, but I actually, just, before I started thinking very seriously about HERD, we went to Australia on holiday and I noticed that it's obviously a much more outdoorsy culture. People on the beach, people are sort of outside the leisure. And there was a much more developed line of bags like this, you know, where using supermarket retailer funded bags, but in more outdoors cultures, they had bags that went associated or affiliated with retailers. They just had beautifully designed bags and I could have had that seed in my head. And then, you know, every household has a stash of reusable bags and I began to really notice, um, my husband. We'd always go for the, the same bags. And there were particular things that he was going for. There was one that had a double handle that he really liked. Um, I always knew that my personal preference was to find one of the pocket because, you know, if you need a pound for the swimming locker and stuff like that. So I could see, even in our pilot of breeze on lots of sensitive shoppers, we had preferences and I began to think, actually it doesn't need to be a supermarket or retailer led products. Um, you could actually, you know, enhance it considerably by taking your favorite attributes from the bags that you do have and putting it into one. And that sort of background those observations coincided very much with a point in my life and career, I suppose. We had come back from living in Asia. I had worked for full time throughout. I started doing, um, taking contract roles where I do a year working, um, in businesses on corporate sustainability. And, um, I had sort of finished a contract come up for new contract. And, um, the recruiter who had been finding me the positions I had had a really flexible arrangement. I also have, I should say I have three children. Um, and they're now 11, nine and six at the time. You know, there were obviously a couple of years younger than that. And I remember the recruiter actually saying to me that, um, I had a flexible working arrangement in my last contract. And, you know, if I wanted a flexible working arrangement, I really would need to take a paycut. And I remember feeling absolutely outraged because I felt like, well, how, how could I need to take a pay cut. My experience and my professional skills growing, why would I take a pay cut for working for the same hours? I was asking to start a couple of hours sooner and get home to pick up. And I'd also, I began to, I suppose I just began to feel that I needed flexibilty because I had a young family, but that I was ambitious and I had things that I wanted to achieve professionally. And I think like many of the women I have met subsequent, starting my own business. I realized that, I would need to give myself the opportunities that I was looking for because they weren't necessarily gonna come to me through a professional environment that I was working in at the time. And it's, it's one of the things that I often say to, you know, there are people who, who, you know, who call me now and again, much younger women asking for pointers and tips and how did I know? And I thought, well, I didn't know. It's just that things combined, um, circumstances sort of seem to points in the direction that you don't need to be sort of through and, through entrepreneur who has this in their blood. You just need to reach a point where you think actually I've got a good idea. I'm going to go for it. So I did.

Vicki Weinberg:

And had the idea of being brewing for awhile, has it, or is it something that's been in the back of your mind while you were still taking on these contracts?

Nancy Powell:

Um, I always loved bags. I have, um, I have always, I'm not sort of particularly fashion conscious person. I've never been particularly, um, you know, following of trends, but one of the things that are always not designed and bags at work have given me sort of particular joy, I think bags are something that can lift outfit. You don't have to try them on never going to be too tight, you know, gonna feel bad in them. I've always felt very excited by bags as a product. And I think that, um, I think the idea that I would, you know, if I was going to have a company and if I was going to do my own thing, it would be bags. Um, was it always a very sensible sort of point to me? So when I toyed with ideas in the past, um, it had always been around bags. Um, it's just that, you know, the, the sort of the setup costs and the, you know, the idea of doing like mainstream bags was at a time, very inhibiting. But actually then when I put together my packaging and materials experience and my passion for bags and accessories, I was kind of like, well, hang on. I don't need to, you know, I don't need to go in at the top of the market. I actually need to go in at the most democratic points in the market, which is bags that everyone used every single day. So yeah. I mean, I think I had the idea to have a bag business because I had been percolating.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. And I guess the timing, just, everything just came together.

Nancy Powell:

Totally, totally everything's sort of scene. And I always, I think I noticed this is just the women or everyone, but you do reach a point in your life, right? I turned 40 actually the year that I launched HERD. And I do think there is something about a point in your life where you think, you know what, I've got enough experience on my belt. I've probably got enough confidence. I'm just going to go for it.

Vicki Weinberg:

absolutely. And I'd love to talk a bit about how you actually went about designing and producing the bags. And so I guess a question before that is was the idea from the outset to have some recyclable content within the bags. So were they always designed to be made of recyclable materials? Cause I'm, I'm just, I'm only asking that because I'm guessing that that gave you perhaps some additional challenges along the way.

Nancy Powell:

Um, I knew, well, I knew before I thought it was going to be fundamental. I mean, I think sustainability and that's used to cover like an enormous, uh, assortment of issues. Um, products and corporate directions, but I always knew that sustainability would need to be, and I would want it to be a key aspect of the brand, because I think that, um, certainly working as I have in big businesses where you have an established way of doing things, both types of products and yours, then you're now approaching an era where you're trying to adjust that offering and that business to be sustainable because, you know, wherever you sit on this, it's absolutely fundamental that your business, you know, whether when, whether we're reporting, whether big businesses are reporting on carbon, that they will be very, very safe. Um, there would be no point setting up a business. Which hadn't already answered these questions, you know, the opportunity and starting from scratch it's stops the way you want it to be. You don't have any of that legacy. You don't have any of the world. This is how we've always done it. You can just do it the way you want it. And I knew that it being, um, from recycled materials was absolutely going to be essential. So, yes, I mean, in terms of finding the supply is, and finding the material, if you want you to work within the people you want us to work with, um, is it more difficult? No, because I think if you're very clear from the outset aligns, you know, what your, um, what your priorities are and what are your absolute non-negotiable then, then you, then you never have the conversations with the people that might've provided you with something different. So in a way to waste his, I always felt that, you know, one of the disadvantages, some of the other brands. Take me to one budget was it, they went recycled materials and I felt like it was, I, I felt like it was a, a myth. I felt some great products actually, that was simply to build that they, that they needed to make. So as I was starting a business from scratch, that's where I would start. So it was, it was never something that was, um, I always say, you know, one of the things about plastic is that there is a lot of plastic in the world and, um, that's already made that already exists. And when I first started, what I actually did was I contacted farm and building merchants to ask if they could provide me with, um, waste feedsacks, you know, because the material that is in the bags is essentially the same material. But if you buy a ton of fans or if you buy a ton of animal feed, it's the same. And my initial idea was could I take that material directly from the farming or building industry and recycle it into a product? Um, well, I couldn't, um, for a variety of different reasons and one of the major issues with, uh, getting the recycled material, the bag, the recycled material would come to China because China buys most of the waste plastic in the world, although it stopped doing so. Um, so lots of those materials are available very readily from, from China. Um, but I think I had always felt it had to be recycled material because why would you just bring more plastic in? So that was a no brainer starting point. So that's part of your question was around, you know, how to design and, um, create the product. Um, I'm extremely fortunate in that my husband works in advertising and he works with a lot of freelancers. And so I had said to him, I want a product designer, um, who is in a very similar position to me who, is, um, a woman who's working freelance who's looking to balance, whatever commitment might be children might be other commitments. Um, but it's not in mainstream work because can't make that work. So Rich, my husband was kind of like, okay, I'll, you know, I'll have a command in the office and see if anybody knows. And I've, I've basically met all of the contacts and all of the people that I've worked with through not through my husband, but through similar means, which is basically saying, I would like to you know, basically work with and employ and put money into the hands of women who are trying to make their professional life work because the mainstream hasn't necessarily been able to accommodate the multiple things in their lives that, that I don't think. And so that's how I met my designer. And, um, in fact, the first person I was put in touch with was literally just about to have a second baby. And she said, it's not me. I can't do it at the moment, but let me put you in touch with this other lady. The only thing is she is in Brazil. And I was like, well, I guess that's not a problem. I mean, we're not sitting in an office, so it doesn't matter if she'd been, you know, if she's in London or if she's in Brazil. And that was how it started. Um, I started. Providing her a brief, she fulfilled it. Um, and we have worked together since, and you know, we've met a couple of times to drink in London when she flying through, but she's now in Mexico, she traveled, we, you know, we're either booming or WhatsApping or emailing and make it work.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's brilliant. Thank you. And it's thank you. Explaining all of that. And also, I mean, I had a bit of a misconception that using recycled materials, as I explained, I thought might've given you extra challenges. And I think it's fantastic to hear that it didn't because I think for anyone who has a similar idea or, you know, not necessarily bags, anyone who wants to do something sustainably and use this like, well materials, I guess could also be thinking, well, actually that might be a challenge so it's good to know that it wasn't. For sure. I mean, it's much harder to do it retrospectively, right? Absolutely

Nancy Powell:

if you, if you start, well, start as you mean to on then. Um, actually I'm one of the things I would add to that is once you begin to, once you find suppliers or once you establish relationships and people know what you're looking for, other people find you. So, you know, when I said to my manufacturer, um, you know, with my first manufacturing run, it was I think 45% recycled content. And I had said to them when I first, when I did that first one, my, my ambition is to get to a hundred percent within at least two or three manufacturing runs. Um, They were sort of like, oh, okay um, right. And then they very quickly came back to me and said, listen, we've got this other products that we could sample for you at the a hundred percent. We haven't done it with anyone else. Would you be interested in doing some product, something with it? Because as soon as people know where you are and what you're thinking and what you want, then ideas tend to find you. They tend to think, oh, actually I know Nancy's looking for X. Why don't we approach her with that? So I think if you're clear what it is you're looking for, what's important to you and your brand, then often, you know, you don't have to do that much work for things to come to. You has been my experience.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think you're right. And, and also once you've built a relationship with a supplier as well, when you're working well together, um, to have to start again, to look for somebody different because perhaps first supplier, couldn't do what you wanted. It's a bit, a bit of process, isn't it, to get to that stage where you're working well together and you're sharing ideas and they're happy to come to you.

Nancy Powell:

It takes awhile. Yeah. That is so much invested in those relationships. Isn't there.

Vicki Weinberg:

How did you go about finding, um, your manufacturers out of interest?

Nancy Powell:

Oh, um, well I did lots of research. So first of all, I was researching in the UK because from a, um, from a convenience logistics footprint, obviously the UK would be ideal, but we, whilst we do manufacture woven PP, and I spoke to lots of companies that did it, we don't manufacture it, um, in a printed form. So we manufacture the sacks that would be used promotionally, but we don't then go on to make finished products from it. Um, and wherever I, you know, all my research pointed to China and, um, a couple in Vietnam too, I got in touch with. And also, I mean, I, I used lots of my contact from Sainsburys from Aldi, from Mark's and Spencer's people who I had worked with previously that I knew was still operating in those sort of packaging groups. Now there were operators in Germany and, uh, Spain who I approached, because again, logistically they were closer because they were Europe, but they were printing, um, for companies like marks and Spencers, and they were printing in volumes. Your minimum order quantities were off the scale. So they weren't going to be feasible manufacturers for me. But I did begin to get a few quotes. China. And I felt some, I mean, I had worked in Singapore and I had worked in China whilst I had worked in Singapore and I thought, you know, how do I go about this? How do I set up that relationship? Um, so I actually contacted the British chamber of commerce in China to say, listen, I have fines, a series of manufacturers, but I would like to do business with, um, what is the best way for me to do this? Do I just ring them up? Do I just email them? How should, how does this work? And they actually were super helpful. Came back to me and said, we, there are a series of brokers that you could use. Um, there are some in the UK who are already have very well established manufacturing, operations, and work with China. And it's through one of those. They, my manufacturers, essentially, a company in Nottingham who work with China, And say we have this sort of three-way relationship where we're sort of design and something with very much working as a team, but all of the logistics is handled from Nottingham. So I don't have to deal with the shipping, which in the last nine months has been extremely relieved, not to have to deal with because you know, with Brexit, with coronavirus, with everything, the world of logistics and shipping has been an extremely difficult one. Um, and so that's, that's how I set up my manufacturing relationship. And it's, it is, you know, like you point out that the relationship is hard, you know, it's, it's, well, one, you know, you, you put in a time, you explain what you want, you do samples, which don't work, but you know, you do. Beginning to get a feel for the people that you want to work with. And this is one of the joys of running your own business is that you choose who you work with. You choose, you know, who you collaborate with, who, you know, who you jive off. All of that stuff is totally your choice. And I, I find that one of the most liberating aspect of running my own businesses, that I work with brilliant people, and I work with people that I've absolutely chosen to work with and it's a joy. So, um, so yeah, my manufacturing relationship has been, um, has been a really, really helpful one. And I think they show any, there are obviously a much bigger business than I am, but. Um, massively supportive in terms of, you know, helping me achieve what I had to achieve. And I think this is one of the things that, you know, if you're a small business trying to do good things, you can't often do them first time off the bat because you don't have any leverage. You're untested, you don't have a, you don't necessarily have a huge customer base your brand isn't known. And you know, if, if you feel like you want to go further quicker, but you realize, you know, I'm not a big player, I'm not Marks and Spencers. I can't walk in and say, I only want, you know, I want this, this and this, and that's it. You, you have to build that relationship and they have to have confidence in you that you'll pay your bills. That you'll provide artwork in a way that they want artwork. And you know, it, it, it's not every company that actually wants to work with small businesses. Um, so yeah, While not all the control has been with me in the sense that, you know, there are a lot of people who didn't even want to do it quite for me, didn't, weren't interested and because the quantities were too small for them. So, you know, there's another side to it as well is while I want my supplier to achieve X, Y, and Zed, in terms of service level, I'm also grateful that they're prepared to do really four manufacturing runs for a small business to see if it can grow and to see if I can create a market for products that they're not yet making for other people.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much for explaining that. And I've actually, haven't spoken to anyone yet who found the manufacturer in the way that you have. And I think that's, I think hopefully that's going to be really useful to someone this thing. Um, because to me, it just sounds really nice that you don't necessarily have to sort of have the direct contact with the factory, because I guess some of the ins and outs, I think that's one of the things that's hard um, when it's your own product, if you're the one dealing with the fact that you do have to get into some detail that actually you don't know much about, this has certainly been my experience in terms of the manufacturing and the shipping. Um, you know, you're not always the best place person to make some of these decisions.

Nancy Powell:

I agree. You have to, you have to know where your expert and way and nod and say the expertise, whereas.

Vicki Weinberg:

That sounds like a brilliant way of going about it. And I really hope that someone finds that useful. Um, and talking about sort of choosing who you work with. I know now that you have a team based all around the world, um, so I'd love to talk a bit more about, about how you, but how you manage that. Because I guess now we've all we living in a world where we're all working virtually or have a lot more of us are working virtually and working flexibly to be good to talk about that.

Nancy Powell:

Um, well kind of, it's interesting, isn't it? Because the pandemic has got, um, everyone doing what I was already doing anyway. And, and many of my female entrepreneur peers were already doing, I think there's, um, in terms of how I've established my network, a huge amount of it's done on relationships, you know, you, you get a feel for people. And I think that, you know, I met very few of the people that I will. In, in real life I've, you know, and, and that was sort of by virtue of starting a business from home. And then secondly, you know, very shortly up starting it, that being a global pandemic where no one was meeting anyway, and actually it's been no obstacle to me building a business and building relationship because essentially the relationship, the successful working relationship I have are built on, um, people doing great work, delivering it on time, um, and being collaborative in the way that they work. And I think that, you know, you, like when I started with my designer, I felt, you know, we were both on known to each other and I felt very clear. The responsibility was on me to provide a brief. That was absolutely watertight. That was really, really clear. There could be no, you know, I needed her to understand exactly what it is I wanted in the dimensions that I wanted, what I was looking for. And obviously since then really got a much better feel for each other and she can now anticipate what it is I want. And if she's got designs that she's been working on, she'll hang a three, a few through to me and put a say, I really liked this. I was, I was in California. I thought it colors. I thought this was really great. What do you think? And yeah, but that takes time to establish. That's something that comes with time. And often relationships find you. I find, I mean, social media is the, is a double-edged sword, but one of the things that I have found through Instagram is, um, access to a community of, you know, women running small businesses, um, establishing relationships and giving each other help and helping hand one of the things, you know, lots of people have found me. You know, one of the things I wanted to do for my second summer was photo shoots with much more lifestyle photography. Um, and then obviously the pandemic happened. I thought, well, we can't do photo shoots. So actually some of the people who had gotten in touch with me through Instagram, I created a photo brief, put a budget against it and got back in touch with them and said, listen, you know, I love the images you've got on Instagram. You're a stylist. If I send you some products and, um, a brief and, you know, obviously pay you, would you be happy to create some content for me? And I think it's, it's one of those things that I certainly feel like female entrepreneurs do very well is work very laterally and kind of go, oh, hang on a second. She's doing this. That's kind of like what I'm trying to achieve. Could we work together on that? Um, word of mouth is another strong thing, you know, where both members of, um, Silke's Raise Up up moms business community. I'm very quick to go through that community and, um, find photographers for example. So two of my photographers have come from that group. Um, and you know, during lockdown. I would drop bags into one of the photographers porch and she'd do a photo product sheet for them, put them back and have porch. I would retrieve the bag still never meeting. And that's, you know, that's just how, um, I think this community of micro and small businesses is beginning to emerge from flexible working and I find it hugely exciting that we can all kind of go, well, actually it's not that conventional and it seems to work. It certainly works for me. My, again, my accountant, my bookkeeper, because, uh, people that I've found through women's business groups and through recommendations from other, um, women entrepreneurs and, um, you know, you have a couple of phone calls with them, you have conversations, then you think actually, You know, this, this is a good relationship. I'm happy to go with it. So it's very informal. Um, but it works. It certainly works for me.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah Thank you. Me too, actually. And I find that I find that women in business generally are really good at collaborating and being creative. So I like to say finding creative ways of working and yeah, I think I definitely feel there's a big spirit of collaboration and people thinking, oh yeah, we could do this together. Or I could recommend this person to you. That's definitely the experience I've had. And I hope the office has had that same experience because it feels very supportive and supported.

Nancy Powell:

It really does. It really does. And it, um, you know, there are plenty of people who have. Yeah, there are people who have bought bags of customers and you have great Instagram following and a really happy to expect nothing in return and are happy to talk about the product. And I know they're making content and, you know, they're, they've got, they got sort of to find fresh things to talk about and stuff, but there is a real sense of actually, how can we all, you know, create a rising tide that brings all boats up here. And I really, you know, second to what you're saying. It, it feels very much like that, but finding people who are willing to collaborate and support you, and, you know, there are people who did images way back when, and, you know, still you paid now and they'll repost things for you or I it's, it's, it's really encouraging and I've experienced none of the opposites. You know, I, I certainly don't feel any great sort of competition or, or challenge from other businesses. It's, it's a really, really vibrant and exciting environment. And I think, you know, there are certainly things that I'm conscious of in terms of, you know, there's another side to social media, which is very judgmental and unpleasant, that's old. So, um, if I, to social media, which has been very white and very middle class, and I kind of, I realized. Sometimes I look and think, you know, oh, I'm in a bit of a bubble here. How do we, how do we sort of disrupt that a bit and make it, you know, make sure that we're checking ourselves on this stuff. But I think it's a good environment. It's a good environment. And I've definitely found it very supportive in building my business. And I hope that I keep, instead of thinking, oh actually, how can I support others? And how can I support others that I'm not necessarily seeing in my own ecosystem as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. Thank you. And as you do have a team, do you have any sort of advice on, on working on working with remote team? Because I, I believe everyone you work if you work with remotely. Yeah. Yeah. Um, except my husband, uh, I still get all of his advertising knowledge as frequently. Um, Any advice on working with people remotely? Um, I think lots of the, you know, there's, there's lots of, there's lots of conversations around this, um, in the public domain at the moment, because obviously we're at this we're at this moment in time where everyone's trying to decide what, what going back to normal is going to look like, and whether that's gonna be people going back into offices, whether it's going to be people staying home or whether it's going to be a hybrid of the table and not to the issues that people bring up in those discussions around, um, motivating people, making people feel included in something, um, making sure people are working and not, you know, slacking off, uh, holding people to account productivity, all those kinds of things. And. I listen to those conversations. And I, I kind of feel like that doesn't reflect the experience I have from my working. Um, I work with women who are accountable adults, um, juggling a very diverse load from their family lives through to their working lives, through to everything in between, and largely doing that very successfully. Um, I don't, you know, that's very motivated. Many of them are very motivated because they are, you know, very empowered to build their own businesses and do the work that they choose to work. I firmly believe in paying people, even if, you know, if they're, if they're people who want. You know, people who just contact me saying, can I have some free products and take photos? I say like, well, okay, there's a standard fee. You know, this is, this is how much I pay for that. Um, because I think if you pay people, you can be very clear about what you expect for what you pay. Um, and I also think that paying creative people and particularly paying women is essential. I think there's also a bit of a culture on Instagram and more broadly where there's a sense that lots of people should be really happy to have the opportunity to do something because it's good for that profile. And I think whilst that may be true, women, everyone should be paid for their time and it worked and they do. And I think that makes relationships very clear. Um, so. In terms of, of working with people. I think like I've alluded to group that I work with time and time again, uh, people that I work with the time and time again, because we successfully found a working relationship where, um, they feel that they're paid for their time. I feel really happy with the work they provide and do, and we enjoy working with each other as a pain. Um, if that wasn't the case, then I probably wouldn't repeat the experience. I would probably just chalk it up to experience and go, you know, I would, I would take that opportunity elsewhere next time. Um, but I'm, you know, I think, I think you do reach a certain point. In life, I'm sounding like a very old person, but I do think you reach a certain point in life where you feel pretty confident in who you're going to work well with and how it's going to work and what their expectations are, what your expectations are. And, you know, certainly the more you can be absolutely buttoned down in the detail with brief, with clarity around what you expect and what the reward is. Then there are very few areas to confusion. And as long as you're a communicator as well, I think one of the things that women are really happy to sort of say, it's not quite right, or I was a bit surprised, or this is a, I think women, certainly the ones I've dealt with dealt with and what quiz, a kind of like, you know, I'm happy to have a discussion. Okay. You know, outputs of what's going on or what's not quite right in it. And so there's no sort of, you know, mystery, I think if you're open and Frank in your relationships and it generally doesn't work well. Yeah Thank you for that. Then I'd like to change the topic. If you don't mind Nancy, and talk a bit more about sustainability because I'm, you know, when I've looked into you and I've looked into hers, I'm really impressed about all that you're doing here. So I'd love, if you could explain some of the things that you're doing and why, and, and how would you still think it's really interesting.

Nancy Powell:

Well, thank you. It's um, I think it's, you know, I mean, I've, I've already said this, but I think it's a title non-negotiable and I, I certainly feel that the direction of travel for every business is, is this way, you know, there is, uh, a climate crisis. There is. Uh, a huge amount of, uh, pressure on the resources that we have and on the way that we're using them. And, you know, I think it's a license to operate issue. You, you have to be at least aware of the impact of your products. And I had that mindset before I set up HERD, and I brought that mindset into HERD. I wanted the bags to be made from recycled content, and that was my primary talking points. And we've got to that point, the bags and I 100% recycled content, which is 16 plastic water bottles, my neck. Um, my, my next ambition is to actually close the loop on the product all together by which I mean, I, for each bag that I sell i, um, pay to have kilos of ocean plastic lifted from the oceanthrough a third party, which is a, an NGO called empower and the customers who buy, um, the products from the online store receive a new link to a dashboard, which track the progress of that ocean path, that clearance with their purchase. So for each bag, the kilo of ocean plastic being lifted from the oceans. Now the next step to that, um, which is something I'm currently working on is to then ring fence that plastic, but it's being lifted from the ocean on behalf of HERD customers and for that plastic to be pelletized and put back into the manufacture of HERD bag so that the loop is completely code. So that the plastic that is being used in HERD bags is going round in a loop and, and that is it's, it's a tidy and it's a perfect communication story. And certainly from my former life, that's how I would have wanted it now, notes of the opportunities that you get along the way. Um, don't always lead to that perfect story. For example, the factory that I worked in China actually, um, came back to myself and my, uh, manufacturer to say, you know, actually there's a lot of plastic clearance that is coming from some of the rivers that are in our region. Should we, should we use that? Um, is that the kind of, you know, is that the kind of material that your, your customers are looking for? 10% or might even be 20% of the ocean plastic in the ocean come from Chinese with it. So there are so many good things about this First of all a manufacturer has going, hold on a second, we have a customer who's interested in this. We have this problem here. Let's bring those two things together and create solution. It's fantastic. Obviously it compromises that perfect circle of communication because you're not creating the closed loop, but this is what I always say. Mean about opportunities coming to you once you're very clear about what it is. You're really, really keen to do companies saying, well, hang on a second. This is an opportunity that you should look at. This is something we're doing over here. Might you be interested in it? So that's one of the, um, Is in the manufacturer. The second is in the end of life. So had bags designed to be reusable bags, but they're not designed to last forever. So they will reach a point where they've reached the end of their life and you want to recycle them. So what I do for my customers is they send the bag back to me at my cost. If I paid for shipping and they get a discount code to get 50% off their next bag. Now, what I'm seeking to do at the moment is I can either recycle them just into general recycling, although you can't recycle them on kind of high street facilities, although that will come with the likes of supermarket retailers, they'll look at different ways of doing that. But what I'm also looking to do is to put the recycled back into new products. So for example, one of the things that I'm sampling at the moment. Taking those recycled bags and reformulating them into posters. Um, so they could be drinks cases, uh, when they are mixed together and we formed. Um, so for example, if I show you I've got this, which is, uh, this is not recycled passive, like it, Jasmine, but it's a similar thing is that you would take all of the different plastic components, which chipped down into small things like this. Um, as you create another product and you give it another life and obviously the license, this is going to be much longer than, than the license, the bag. So that's another thing I'm looking at. Another thing that, um, I just took off the press are towels, which are, um, again, they have a 45% recycled plastic polymer in them. Um, The other opportunity. I see. One of the options I see for the brand is diffusing into other waste materials products, which come from other waste materials. I mean, I've already spoken about my hotline very much in bags, but where you can keep, um, a plastic or a material going by giving it another life, would it, could he be, you know, be of interest to me and whether that's through coasters, old towels on things and you know, that is something that I'm very keen to do. And I think that, you know, sustainability is it's going to require a lot of creative thinking. It's going to require people to collaborate in a way that we've already been talking about, which has kind of done well. I could use your way. I could do this with that. Um, and you know, another thing that I've got is I have a number of faulty bags that arrive in the handle. Might've been stitched on the wrong way round, or, um, they have minor fault, which mean that you couldn't retail them as you would the others, but they're still perfectly usable bags. Now, today, those have been going to the hygiene bank. But what I'm also looking at doing is I found a local, um, a local woman who can cut them down and turn them into kind of a five patches that you might put sunscreens in that you might put wet swimwear in that you might put food in, but just a small patch that you can put inside another bag, which means that those bags with faults, small faults, can still have a life in another form. So, you know, and another thing would be that we don't have savings. I just buy bags. Nope. I have design manufacture. Those designs sell them. And when they're gone, they're gone and I make new ones, but I don't have savings because that sense that there has to be a ton of seasonal switch and feeding an appetite for continual change is one of the things that I'm keen to avoid. So on multiple fronts, sustainability is I think about lateral thinking as little waste as possible. And that makes commercial sense, right? You don't want to, you know, you want to make everything work as hard as it can for you. And the upshot of that is, but it's, it's good for our environment and it's, it gets the planet ultimately, and every business needs to be thinking well,

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much. I think you've definitely given us something to think about there I'm really impressed by all that you're doing. And because I do think you have to think quite creatively too, come up with some of these solutions. And I know you've said you've had input from your manufacturers as well, which is fantastic. You've had these opportunities presented to you, but as you touched on earlier, I think you've had these opportunities presented because you've been really clear about what it is you want to achieve. So it hasn't happened by accident. So yeah, I think that's really inspiring. Thank you for sharing. Yeah.

Nancy Powell:

Um, so we're going to change the subject for a final time time. We are getting towards the end of our time together, and I do appreciate how long you spent here. Um, the final thing I'd just like to ask you about is I've, I've seen that you are stocked. In fact, you touched on this earlier that your products are stocked worldwide. You're starting to wholesale, and I just wanted to, we could talk just very briefly about wholesale and any advice you have there, perhaps how you went about it. As I know that it's something that lots of product business is interested in, but it can feel a bit daunting concept and it would just be good to know how you went about it and yeah. Any, um, wholesale wholesale is an interesting one. I think, um, one of the key things that I've done, and this is sort of is that I've advertised from that. So an advertising has driven sale. Uh, and I've advertised, I've generated adsets which generally go on Instagram and Facebook, but I'm increasingly looking to Pinterest, um, because I like Pinterest and, um, don't like Facebook. Um, and one of the interesting things about advertising is it, obviously it generates sales, but it also brings a lot of other people to you. So most of the PRI card has been people seeing the brand advertising the Instagram feed and not of the wholesale I've had have been people seeing ads for the barns. So a lot of it have come to me and I have not been proactive now, the first person, um, when I just learned. When I launched a business, all I had done, all my thinking has been absolutely around creating an online store, using Shopify, building the store, getting my product to the pace that I wanted it to be. And I had no experience wholesale and it hadn't really been on my radar. And then I launched the brand sales began to grow and then wonderful retailer who retailed altering a market. Um, Lacey Ensley contacted me and just said, oh, hi, I've seen your product. When did, if you offered them wholesale. Um, and I emailed her back and said, I literally don't even know what that means. How does this normally work? And she said, should we have a phone call? So I had a phone call with her. She obviously stocks a number of different brands. And she says, well, it normally works like this. You know, you sell your products for, um, sort of 2.1 divisible of the retail price. You create a line sheet of minimum order quantities. Um, you then agree whether they pay for shipping. You pay for shipping cost. Um, you can have it on say an over turn, but that's probably not in your interest. Um, and she was an Oracle because I knew nothing. And so I said, well, if I hadn't done this before, I'm really happy to, you know, selling some products and see where we go from there. And so I did that with her and then increasingly I got more brands approaching me about wholesale. And I've applied exactly the same thinking to each of those relationships. Um, and it's worked very well now, often when you get big brands come to you, they, it's not a negotiation it's, uh, but it's, but it's great because certainly if you're getting big box retailers, I mean the one issue that is often a stumbling block quiz, almost every, particularly if you're talking about global and particularly if you're talking in the current market, wholesalers is logistics and the cost of shipping. Now, if you're talking about big box retailers in the U S or Japan or places like that, their logistics is it's built in. So they'll basically just say, we will cover shipping. You just need to wait, just buying the product. The shipping is on us, which is like a dream come true because that puts all the headache of all the headache and the cost of global shipping with them. Now my experience has been and every sort of person running their own business as a one person band will appreciate this is that there are areas that your sort of very able in and that you have a lot of experience in, and there are areas that you don't and then a blind spot. And one of the things sort of first me on my to-do list is to begin to be more proactive in wholesale in the sense of beginning to talk it places where I would really like to be a wholesaler in the same way that I would, um, you know, ended up, I might target PR you know, creating a bespoke offer, um, a package. One of the great things about my product, um, is that it's very visual. So it's lended itself very well to advertising and it. It's very easy to on defense because there's very little story and there's very little to say about it. It, it often sells itself in an image that has been a real, and that would really encourage me to say that the quality of your photography is so important. If you can get the attribute of your product depicted in a very visual way, it does use a huge service because you have microseconds in front of whether it's a buyer or a journalist or whoever attention you're trying to get. Um, I have done with PR as well. I've done very little proactive, but what I have done is get addressed as a name of fashion journalists. So I really liked. Done mail drops. I've I stood at loading bays with courier, cyclists with a helmet on delivering power souls, just to drop in my head bag to go to the messed up there. And sometimes I've had nothing and sometimes, you know, it's been an, an off-cycle and it's just the luck of the draw. But one of the things I would say is that if through advertising, lots of people have come to me. And one of the challenges, I think that, you know, the next year or so if, for me to be more proactive in determining, okay, who would I now like to approach? How will I do that? Um, where do I feel like I should be dope and, you know, go, according to me, another thing that exists to the increasing the other platform. So in the absence of trade shows, which I've never been. Um, there are these platforms where, um, that is one I've just signed up for in the U S called fair F a I R E, where, um, you know, all of the stores in America can access a number of different brands through this one platform and shop for them. And so I've seen an increasing amount of U S wholesale trade. Now, obviously they take a big slug of commission for me, but they also make the process quite streamlined and they put you in stores that you otherwise wouldn't have contact with. So, yeah, I mean, I'm, I'm living and learning with wholesale and, um, but again, you know, I've worked with both the people where I've, where I'm, I'm very happy to say I haven't done this before. Uh, in principle, super keen. How do you think it would work? What do you need to get from it? What do I need to get from it?Cool, let's, go for it. Um, I also think, and I, I'm going to make this a female trait, so that probably very sexist. I think that, um, I think that women and certainly the group that I work with, uh, don't see kind of, uh, success in a much broader way than simply profit. I think the way that you kind of know the relationships you develop, the access you get, um, obviously your sales, but I think the picture is I see the picture as much bigger than simply one of the profits. Once the profits look like, um, So, yeah, that was very normal.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And you shared a lot there, but one of the key things I actually picked up on was, you know, not being afraid to say, I don't know. Can you tell, you know, rather than, but, you know, rather than putting yourself in a position where someone asks you to wholesale and you say yes, then you go straight on Google to work out what that is and what you have to do. Yeah. I think there's a lot to be said for being open and saying yes, but, you know, I don't know. And can you help me? And I think that, you know, the, the right people for you will be open to saying, yes, I've explained that to you and this is, you know, and they will give you their time. Um, and I think that's, I think that's a nice stopping to, to realize as well that you don't have to sort of pretend that you're the expert in everything and it is actually okay to ask for help or clarification or.

Nancy Powell:

I, I totally would. I would encourage people to do that because also when they're telling you, you will understand from their own, so what they need to get from the relationship, what they need, what needs to be in place for it, to work for them. And you get to understand the transaction and how have the dynamic needs to be established. Otherwise you never will. And it's, it's very liberating. And I think that, um, you know, I said this so many times already, but you do reach a certain point where you kind of feel like I don't, you know, it's okay to not be brilliant at everything and it's not okay to not have the answers. I've put enough that I'm good at that I, that I can talk about. And I can be very open about what I'm not good at and where I'm going to need to ask questions. Um, and that's okay. It's totally okay. And it's, if people and people respond very well to that, I think that, you know, asking questions and bringing conversations often done. So that is common denominator. It can be very liberating for everyone because like every professional environment is a, is a job. And this, uh, there's a way that things work that can, you can feel like, oh my God, I don't know. You know, I don't know what you're talking about. When somebody first said, do you have an MOQ? I thought, what is an MOQ, um, google MOQ, minimum order quantity. Okay. And. I think he just got back. Well, no. Should I, um, people will kind of write back ha ha um, yeah, probably want to think about it, but the most wholesale customers, I would say my, my minimum order quantity would probably be 10 by co-design, but I would also say if you were testing this with your customers and you haven't bought from me before, buy whatever you like, um, and you know, second purchase and it's, it's like that with everything, whether it's people you work with, whether it's people who buy from you, you know, doesn't work the first time run, walk away. I think, you know, if, if they don't buy your minimum order quantities and they dip their toe in the water and it doesn't work, that's fine. It's, it's all just, it's all just an experiment. And you can just chalk up mistakes to experience. That's what I'm getting.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much. I really hope that's giving people some confidence because I think part of this does comes down to confidence. I know that when I started my business, I definitely was in a position where I was almost afraid to say, it's just me and I do everything and I'm only good at half of it. Um, I just, I didn't feel that I could say that. Um, I felt like I should know it all and looking back, I mean, why there was no, there was no expectation that, that wherever you are and you quit, you're never going to know everything and it's okay to ask questions. I don't know why I thought that. Um, but certainly it's much more liberating when you reach a place where you you're okay to say, actually, I don't know what you mean, or actually I've never done that. Um, I just think it's a much more honest way and yeah, I just think it's, I feel much more at ease being able to say actually, you know, I don't know that.

Nancy Powell:

Yeah, no, I, I, I totally agree. I think that, um, I think that the, the ability to sort of say. You know, haven't understood that, or haven't done that before, but I may come to it. Um, tell me how you think it will work. Um, it's, it's actually really powerful. I mean, you're in a conversation with someone because most of you think there's an opportunity. Um, and if the other person genuinely thinks there's an opportunity, they've got an interest in making sure that, you know, you're on the same page and I've, I've certainly become more confident. And I think that, you know, I think that is running your own businesses, but you know, nobody's observing me. If people think that, you know, I've not done something well, I'm gonna give my time. If I think I've made a poor judgment or I didn't get the detail I needed, or somebody asks you a question. Go with that. It's such an obvious question. And I didn't ask that in the conversation. Um, you know, it's all experience and you will do next time and, um, you know, it'll be, it'll be harder on you than you'll be on yourself. So just, you know, just be open about it. So people really appreciate it, Mike.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. Thank you for that. And I guess one final question before we finished us. Okay, Nancy, um, cause I know I've taken up so much of your time. I really do appreciate this is what was your number one piece of advice be for someone else looking to start creating their own products?

Nancy Powell:

Oh, I was thinking about this. Um, now I am a massive inhaler, a podcast. I do a lot of like product preparation and when I do, I stick my AirPods in and I listened to all kinds of different people and somebody that I started listening to the same to you recently. I don't, if you've heard of him, Seth Goden. Yes. Um, and he's recently written a book and it's, I find it very, again, very liberating, very much in a similar thing to what we've just been discussing about kind of being, you know, being comfortable with the fact that you don't, and aren't expected to have the answer to everything, or know everything will be brilliant at everything. And one of the things that repeatedly comes out in his podcast and everything he talks about is the expression ship, the work. And this is something that I would, you know, I would really say to people who are at this point where they're thinking should I shouldn't tie, you know, and it's very much aligned with the expression. Perfect. I think perfectionism is the enemy of done. It's that idea that, um, you have to be 100% right. To do it and you have to have all the I's dotted and T's crossed. And what I would probably say is if you have a product that you really really think is good, that excites you, but if your customer knew everything about it, that you know about, that you would feel they would feel excited about your product, then just trust that the other stuff will fall into place because it will, it will. When I, I knew I wanted a brand that was made from 100% recycled material. My first product one was not 100% recycled material. It was clear, it was close, but it wasn't. But I knew I would get that within one or two manufacturing runs. I, there were so many things. I didn't have the Allen Institute before I started and now, and I just, and it's and you take a risk. And the reason it's easier to do when your running your own businesses, because it's your risk. Um, and if you can, you can, you can live with you can, I can personally find a contemporary, taking a risk of myself better than I can if it has impact on other people. Um, and you just have to trust that you are going to learn a huge amount in the, in the course of your businesses launch and establishing itself as a startup, but all those things you don't absolutely have to right now, you definitely will. You definitely will. Or you will find somebody who you can ask for the answer because every day you will have a different conversation. You will have a different, you will, you will have a different experience conversation with a person. You will read a different article. You will listen to different podcasts and you will know. What to do next, but all you have a need to need to do is the next thing. And you know, I come back to the thing that's going to, which is shift the work. If you don't get it at night, if you then it's nothing, you know, it's better to have something, but it's 17% as good as you want it, then nothing at all. So just get on with it is, is overwhelmingly. Um, my piece of advice, I think if your product, you have to have competence in your product, but it also won't be your perfect product. You will not launch with your perfect product. And if you, if you do, then you probably, depending on the two though, you, you have to get on with it.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's brilliant advice. Thank you so much for that. And I completely agree as well. I'm a big fan of just, just doing it and it always works out in the end. Well, thank you so much, Nancy. I really appreciate the time you spent and everything that you've shared has been absolutely fantastic. Um, so I will link to your website in the show notes. That's herdbags.com for anyone who wants to go there right now and social media and everywhere else. Um, but yeah, just thank you. I've really loved talking to you and thank you so much for all of this.

Nancy Powell:

Oh, it's absolutely my pleasure. Thank you so much for asking me If you enjoyed this conversation with Nancy. Do you come and find me on Instagram or LinkedIn it Vicky Weinberg and let's continue the conversation. I would absolutely love to know what you thought. Please do remember to follow this podcast to receive all future episodes. As soon as they're launched.