As Earth Day falls on the 22nd of April, our Junior Editor, Megan, has been in contact with Nicola, owner of The Little Fenland Eco Shop – a local business that sells eco-friendly alternatives to our everyday products. We’ve asked Nicola a few questions about her business, what inspired her to go eco-friendly, and how the pandemic has affected the operations of her business.
Q: How and when did The Little Fenland Eco Shop begin?
A: The idea of opening an eco-friendly store was originally thought up around mid-2019, but with no previous business experience and the fear of failure, I wasn’t sure it would ever happen. A few months later it was still very much on my mind, so I decided to bite the bullet and jump in headfirst! Within a fortnight of deciding to make my tiny business dream a reality, I had made connections with stockists and suppliers and secured myself a lovely little spot within the Ramsey Indoor Market. Without any financial backing, I started small with just six products, but have slowly grown what I am able to offer by reinvesting every penny from sales into sourcing new products to help us all make simple eco-friendly swaps.
Q: Can you tell us more about the products you offer?
A: The Little Fenland Eco Shop offers a wide selection of eco-conscious products, ranging from compostable kitchen brushes to reusable baby wipes, soap bars to paper tapes, toothpaste tablets, shampoo bars, water-soluble cleaning products, refillable bottles, loofahs, makeup removal pads and a whole lot more!
Q: So what inspired you to sell eco-friendly alternative products?
A: I grew up by the sea, on a small island off of the north coast of Scotland. As children, my sister and I would make “murals” on the sand from dried washed-up seaweed, driftwood and shells. We’d listen to the seals singing at night, nature was all around us! A trip back up to Orkney in 2017, unfortunately, revealed just how much plastic, paired with our throwaway society, had begun to ruin the beautiful beaches I had played on as a little girl. a Saxa Salt bottle, found in a cove on an uninhabited island was a pretty sad sight to see. It was then that my own low waste journey began. Always offering hints and tips to friends and family, I decided a shop of my own would be a great way to showcase just how many easy swaps there are to reduce waste and remove the need for single-use plastics!
Q: That must’ve been really hard to see how your childhood environment has changed. It’s amazing that you are trying to make a difference.
A: Obviously in the last year, the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on our small, local businesses.
Q: How about you Nicola? How has the pandemic impacted your business?
A: The pandemic has certainly been challenging for The Little Fenland Eco Shop! Changes in tiers and then national lockdowns have meant that the business has unfortunately spent more time with its doors closed than open. When it was apparent that we wouldn’t be reopening any time soon I went about fetching all of the stock from the stall and moved it into my spare bedroom. After several months I took the decision to launch the website, allowing people a simple way of browsing items and placing orders. Delivery in Ramsey is completely free and I also deliver to the surrounding towns and villages too. For slightly further out orders, postal options are available. Although setting up the website was a large and unexpected cost, I’m so glad I can continue to spread the plastic-free word and slowly grow my business.
Q: So, in a way, your business has had a real chance to grow digitally. Final question for you Nicola, where would you like to see The Little Fenland Eco Shop in five years time?
A: The original goal was to own my own refill shop; to be able to supply plastic and packaging-free foods, cleaning products & personal hygiene alternatives, along with the products I currently stock. I’d love to think that within the next five years I could make that dream a reality. Ramsey may only be a small place, but it really does have a lovely community of like-minded people who simply want to protect our planet. I think a refill store would be a huge hit. At the moment I still have a full-time job, along with running The Little Fenland Eco Shop, but who knows what the future holds!