Ecoeri: Alina Anghel

Ecoeri is a sustainable online marketplace that offers eco-friendly brands a place to sell high-quality, ethical goods direct to consumers.

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Name of founder: Alina Anghel
Age of the founder: 31
Location: London
Date launched: 12 March 2021
Number of employees: 1

Which university, if any, did you attend?

I studied Business Administration at University of Kent

What does your business do?

Ecoeri is an online department store for beautiful, sustainable, and ethical products in home and living, beauty, fashion and gifting. We work with innovative and ethically-conscious small brands from across UK, and internationally, to make it easier for consumers to discover and shop products that are high quality, stylish and environmental-friendly.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

The idea originally came from me finding it difficult to know which products and brands were truly sustainable and where I could shop for them easily. I ran a survey to better understand how others felt about shopping sustainably and found that although most consumers have the desire to shop more responsibly, they had similar struggles.

When it came to shopping ethically, the top challenges quoted by respondents were: high price, finding products, and difficulty understanding credentials. From there Ecoeri was born, and aimed at solving those challenges.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Partly from the survey I ran, but also from noticing a high increase in Google search trends towards sustainability and an overall increase in market interest in the topic.

What were you doing before launching your business?

Before launching Ecoeri I used to work as a Digital Product Manager in the fashion industry, launching omni-channel features and functionalities. Prior to that I spent over 6 years agency-side in SEO & Digital Marketing.

Have you always planned to start a business?

Yes, from a young age.

How did you finance your business?

I have bootstrapped the business so far, in order to understand consumer interest in the business.

Explain your business model and how you make money.

Ecoeri is an online multi-brand shop where we sell sustainable and ethical products across home and living, beauty, gifting, and more. We buy wholesale from small designers across the UK and we hold the stock ourselves which gives us greater flexibility. 

What are the main challenges you have faced? And how did you overcome them?

Bootstrapping the business means it can be challenging to scale quickly. However, it also means putting a lot of thought towards budget, and thinking creatively on how to scale organically; both of which I believe give a strong foundation to the business.

What has your experience been of starting a business during a pandemic?

Starting a business during a pandemic is certainly not easy. Consumer interest in products that would otherwise do well has dropped, and restrictions for in-person events or pop-ups has meant we've had to host a lot of our events remotely. On the positive side, there is greater community support for small businesses and a growing interest in sustainable living which is great to see.

Describe your first breakthrough.

Taking the business from concept to build, and launching the website with products available to shop in just 3 weeks time. But seeing the positive community grow organically has been the most exciting moment so far.

How has Brexit impacted your business? Do you think it will in the future?

Brexit hasn't impacted us as much as we focus primarily on UK market. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion around shipping and taxes for consumers ordering from the UK, which hopefully will become more straight-forward in the future.

What advice would you give to other aspiring business owners?

Focus on a test and learn approach from the start. Test your idea to see whether there is an interest from your target market before jumping in to get funding, and learn as many different creative ways of driving growth as you can to understand what works best for your business.

What is one resolution you have for your business this year?

To continuously improve our product offering and customer service.

How do you see your business developing in the next three years?

For the next three year the main focus will be on further expanding our product range, as well as looking at how we can grow internationally.

If you're a business owner with a startup that's less than six months old, apply now to feature as one of our Just Started business profiles.

Helena is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has previously written for a popular fintech startup covering everything from money-saving tips to cultural reviews.

She is particularly interested in project management software and the films of Peter Jackson.

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