We caught up with Caro, the founder of Precycle Pantry. Like so many founders, Caro has started a business that is solving a problem for herself. This plastic-free story is something we should all be thinking about.
Caro, what's your backstory?
I am originally from Mexico and moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, to study for a Masters Degree in Business and Economics. It was in Copenhagen that I discovered the start-up tech world. I have been working in software for the majority of my professional life.
However, something was missing. I wanted to do something more grassroots that could contribute to the planet. I met my husband in Denmark, and being an Aussie himself, we decided to move to Melbourne in 2018. I kept working in software until I was able to take the plunge and start working on Precycle Pantry in early 2021.
Tell us what your company does?
Precycle Pantry is a mobile zero-waste bulk shop that offers refillable and plastic-free pantry essentials. We want to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to shop plastic-free and do their bit for the planet.
We know our community is getting more conscious of the current climate emergency and want to do something. However, they are still looking for practical alternatives that can adapt to their current busy lifestyles, and we want to be that solution for them.
How did you come up with the idea?
I have been interested in living more sustainably and doing what I can to change the way I consume for a while now. However, it was hard to walk the talk with a busy life, and I was tired of visiting lots of bulk buy stores and grocery shops lugging my jars in the boot of my car. So, I wanted to solve my own problem and have a convenient service that could bring sustainability to your door.
How did you go about launching the business?
I’ve wanted to start my own thing for a while, and there were several attempts in previous years, but I just didn’t have the energy when working full-time for another company. During the pandemic in early 2021, I got made redundant, which gave me the push that I needed to pursue my passion project.
What have been some of your biggest failures along the way?
Being my first business in Australia, I had no idea that the food industry could be so regulated, and since Precycle Pantry sells dry foods, I thought it would be easier. There are so many boxes you need to tick to comply with to sell food.
My initial projected budget has been blown, which is a little scary, but seeing how people have reacted even before our launch has given me hope that there’s a big market waiting for what we have to offer.
What’s your biggest selling product?
I would say everything since we are a grocery shop. Here you can find out product range:
What day to day digital tools do you use?
What books have been a great inspiration to you as a founder?
During this journey, one of my main books has been:
Plastic Free: The inspiring story of a global environmental movement and why it matters” by Joanna Atherfold Finn and Rebecca Price-Ruiz. This book is an inspiration on how a small grassroots movement can become so big and how important is the fight against plastic pollution.
Other books that have been important and inspirational for me are:
The Climate Cure by Tim Flannery
I love listening to permaculture podcasts. This is always inspiring for me to keep on contributing in any way I can towards a cleaner and healthier environment. I love the PiP Magazine Podcast.
What quotes do you live by?
"It’s with small steps that big changes can happen”
This is a massive part of Precycle Pantry’s ethos, as we really believe that if we all change the way we consume, then big companies and businesses will follow our demands.
What do you do to look after your mental health as a founder?
I am an avid yoga practitioner, so I try to keep my practice as regular as possible. Also, keeping a daily work routine really helps.
Waking up at a certain time and aiming to be at my desk at a certain time is something important when you work from home and on your own.
One thing that’s been hard lately and during lockdown is how lonely it can get as a single founder, especially in the early stages before interacting with customers.
I find myself needing to talk to people to bounce ideas, so I‘ve been relying on zoom very heavily to chat with friends and mentors.
In a few words what does it mean to be the founder of a business?
"For me, it means a commitment to the environment and to our customers.
What are the biggest pieces of advice you’d give to other founders?
“Go for what you really believe in, and it will be easy to keep going even in the hardest of times."
Find some other founders or inspiring people you can bounce ideas with and enjoy the roller coaster ride!