A Q&A with Lora Wilson to find out how she developed the idea for Seed1 - and what drove her to finally take the plunge
Lora is owner of Seed1, Marlow's first community focused, zero waste store. In a World where waste is a fact of life, but is piling up around us in a way that will ultimately prove unsustainable, trying to cut down to zero is a truly difficult ask.
So we thought we'd find out a bit more about taking on the challenge...
Firstly, tell us about Seed1. How would you describe the business to people who have not yet been to say hello?
We are a zero-waste shop that sells environmentally-friendly and sustainable products for you and your home - such as refills on dried foods, cleaning products and toiletries (so no single use packaging needed!) and reusable items like wax wraps and make up wipes, plastic-free toys and sustainable gifts and homewares.
We have products at a range of price-points so as to make sustainable living more affordable and accessible and hope to be able to support those in our community who want to make positive environmental change in their lives, to do so in an easily accessible way.
What did you do in life before Seed1?
I worked in numerous jobs before this, from accounts administration to running a café, to working in events, fundraising and research in the charity sector.
How long did you think about this business before you decided to act?
I felt my calling to go out and help the homeless in the summer of 2017 and quit my job 3 months later. It then took me about 2 years of planning and research before the first shop opened.
Where were you when you finally decided, it’s now or never, let’s do it’?
I was sitting in Church listening to a sermon on Jonah running away from God’s calling on his life and realised I couldn’t ignore my calling any longer. I needed to step out in faith and go for it and decided I couldn't keep running away from God’s purpose for my life.
What do you enjoy most about running Seed1?
The amazing people I get to meet each day. We have some incredible customers, volunteers and supporters who it has been so great to get to know.
What is your biggest challenge?
Time. I vastly underestimated the time needed for all the administrative work needed behind running the shop. I am always on the lookout for new volunteers to help with serving customers so as to free up my time for paperwork!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for the business?
Skip diving for doormats, shelving units and carpeting is, I think, possibly the strangest method I’ve ever used for a business “purchases”. Being a zero-waste shop, we endeavour not to buy anything new and try to re-use where possible. Our interior furniture was made out of old scaffolding boards and pallet wood, but some things - with appropriate permission - we’ve rescued from skips.
What about Seed1 are you most proud of?
The incredible community support we have received. Over 120 people have volunteered in some capacity to help us set up, move, serve customers, deliver food boxes or work behind the scenes.
In particular, over the past year, we’ve also been able to work with Alex Collingwood (Buckinghamshire Council) to provide weekly fruit and vegetable boxes for local families in need, who (due to Covid) haven’t been able to afford fresh food for their children and this has required a large number of volunteers to pack and deliver the food.
Is there a bigger ambition of which Seed1 is just the start?
Yes, absolutely. Seed1 is just the first seed of something bigger. We already have plans for Seed2, Seed3 and Seed4. We are currently working on establishing our charity which will support those who are vulnerable or marginalised in society, particularly those facing homelessness, domestic violence, learning difficulties, mental health problems and refugees and asylum seekers.
Seed1 is, and Seed2, Seed3 and Seed4 will all be, Community Interest Companies, providing employment and training opportunities for those that the charity supports. All the profits from these companies will go directly to the charity and be used to provide financial, educational, health and social support to the individuals we are supporting.