PURPLE EARTH: Taking that small step

by Back Her Business | Sep 11, 2019 | Stories

PURPLE EARTH: Taking that small step

One third of all plastic comes from the supermarket and then, from there, it is often used once and then thrown away. Julie, aware of the damage that this single use plastic inflicts on the planet, set out on a mission to help her community become more earth conscious. 

With the climate crisis becoming more prominent in today’s media and TV shows like Blue Planet airing the truth about the dire situation surrounding marine life, it’s no wonder that people are taking note of the plastic problem. From the ban on plastic straws to the rise of reusable coffee cups, people all over the world are taking small steps in plastic reduction. 

Understanding that a small step is all it takes to make a massive difference, Julie McFarland set out to bring a zero waste store to her area, hoping to help her community travel down the plastic free road. “I started doing pop up events last September at fairs to gauge the interest in the ‘zero waste’ movement in Northern Ireland. Thanks to the likes of BBC’s War on Plastic and Blue Planet, the public are more aware of the environmental and health issues we are facing with the amount of single use plastic and its disposal.”

After hearing the feedback from her pop-up events, Julie created her first crowdfunder to establish Purple Earth as a community based food refill shop!

“Crowdfunding was scary at the start as I took a risk with an all or nothing campaign. However, as the pledges started to come in, it got exciting! You have to work tirelessly throughout your campaign and it got a bit nail-biting towards the end but it was well worth it.”

It was definitely worth it as, in the end, Julie raised £4,310 from 103 supporters in just 28 days, making her dream of bringing a zero waste shop to her community a reality.

The stock of Purple Earth—a zero waste shop in Northern Ireland which was funded by Ulster Bank's Back Her Business programme

Support from the Back Her Business programme

Julie was also eligible to take part in our Back Her Business programme which is designed to help women navigate the obstacles that they can sometimes face when getting started in business.

Of her experience, she said, The Back Her Business programme has helped me to see the real support for my venture and I was overwhelmed with all the pledges, which ranged from £3 to £500, mostly from complete strangers – but who will, all being well, become regular customers and familiar faces.”

As part of the programme, she also received an extra funding grant of £1,250 from us! Julie went on to say, “Being in my 40s, I have been struggling with the funding side of things, especially to be able to offer a great range of food products from day one. I am so grateful to Ulster Bank for the opportunity and am looking forward to investing it within the local community and beyond.”

With such a successful venture, Julie left us with some top tips for anyone looking to embark on the crowdfunding journey!

Don’t jump in – I had already spent a year researching my target customers, suppliers and ideas so when the Back Her Business campaign came along, I was prepared and knew where I was headed. Make sure and offer rewards for your donors and don’t forget to thank them all along the way.”

Feeling inspired? Don’t forget to check out the coaching, support, and grants we have on offer as part of the Back Her Business programme!