Ariana Whittingham interview Kate Crew, co-founder of Sinclo - for Ecocious
Ariana: Tell us the story behind Sinclo and what was the process involved from it being just an idea to an actual business?
Sinclo is made up of myself Kate, my partner Sam and our little staffy Alo. Sam and I have been together for coming up to 9 years and we rescued Alo from the Animal Welfare League just over 4 years ago when he was just 10 weeks old. The name Sinclo comes from a combination Sams last name Sinclair and Alo (can you tell how obsessed we are with our furbaby yet haha) We came up with the idea of Sinclo as Sam and I have always loved water bottles and have always taken ours everywhere we go. We just could never find a water bottle that we both liked, as they were always either too small, wouldn’t keep the water cold for long enough or (most important one for me) the lid wasn’t right. We joked one afternoon about starting a business selling stainless steel water bottles and then the next day we actually started looking into it. This was at the end of July 2021 and with a lot of learning curves and so much excitement (and a little bit of frustrating times and setbacks) in between we had our first samples by the end of November. Working together has been an interesting but amazing experience for sure. I’m a recovering control freak so I drive Sam a little bit crazy but I’m so lucky he’s nice a laidback and will just tell me when I’m wrong and being stubborn.
Ariana: As you guys are a relatively new product available on the digital market, what was the process involved in setting up your business with sustainable ethics?
I’ll be completely honest with you it was quite hard. I can definitely see why people cut corners with their businesses and don’t have everything sustainable and eco friendly. However to us this was a non-negotiable. It took a lot of time and a lot more money to ensure our business was as sustainable as possible. By all means we are not perfect but we just couldn’t morally justify having a sustainable product but the rest of our business not being at the same standards. We did a lot of research into all of our packaging options and what is currently being used by other companies and what is also made readily available for companies to use. There are definitely more choices being made available that are more environmentally conscious however there’s still such an abundance of single use plastics being used for packaging and it is so much cheaper because you usually do not have to buy in bulk. For example, for us to have our compostable bags made with our logo we had to order a minimum of 5000 bags. It’s also tough to not just want to jump on a bandwagon when you see it being so successful in other businesses however is not aligned with our sustainability ethics. We were tempted recently to release personalised vinyl stickers for peoples water bottles and knew that it would be very successful. However, looking into the effects of vinyl stickers that even just washing the bottle with the sticker on it releases microplastics into the environment. We just couldn’t justify doing it as it would just be against everything that we believe in for our brand.
Ariana: Tell us your experience being a new business/product - what is it really like using social media as a driving force for your online products?
Being a new business without being an influencer or having a social following is so tough. You’re against all of these social media influencers who release brand products and brands and they sell out within hours. Which is so disheartening to new business owners. But without social media I honestly don’t know if we would have had any sales haha. It’s a huge part of our business and it’s crazy to think about businesses in the past not having access to it. It can be a bit of a struggle to come up with content all the time (especially when I’m not too creative!)
Ariana: What is something you wish that consumers knew about the products they buy? & one fact about sustainability that has shocked you.
So many things! I think being aware of the reason why this product is being sold and who it is benefiting. So many products are created purely for $$ with no thought to the long term impact of them. Like looking into all of the fast fashion brands is terrifying because the clothes are made out of awful materials that are detrimental to the environment and also to our health. They are mainly produced where workers are in awful conditions and are being paid below minimum wage. And then all of the packaging that the items are sent in are majority all single use plastics that will further pollute the environment.
Ariana: What are your long term goals for Sinclo?
Oooh we have so many plans for Sinclo. Short-long term we will have a range of different size and colour bottles with lots of different lids that can be used across all of the bottles. We have also started to look into clothing for Sinclo but again it’s so important for it to align with our values and we don’t want to bring something out just to make a quick buck. So a lot of thought and love will go into anything we decide to bring out. Long term goals we would absolutely love to manufacture the bottles in Australia ourselves to further reduce the impact we have on the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. There’s a few other long term projects stepping away from just water bottles that we definitely want to achieve but you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for that. ;-)
Ariana: If someone reading this decided to start making changes to living a more sustainable life, what advice or tips could you give them?
Don’t rush it! If you try and do everything at once you’ll freak out and probably not do anything. Just be aware there’s always so much you can do so once you’ve think you’re doing everything there possibly could be you’ll then learn about even more! Just implement one thing at a time. Even if it’s using one of our bottles everyday and not using plastic bottles. It’s all about those baby steps to making true change.