Startups 100’s Kind Bag shows being green is good for growth

The sustainable startup goes from strength to strength with 45% year on year growth.

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In this year’s Startups 100 index, we turned our attention to Kind Bag, an ethical accessories brand, to shed light on its commendable practices. Now, it appears our recognition was well-founded as Kind Bag, the sustainable bag brand, has achieved remarkable growth for the third consecutive year, surpassing expectations by generating a staggering £940,000 in revenue.

This growth can be attributed to the surge in sales within the UK market and the expansion of export channels, particularly in the United States. Kind Bag’s commitment to repurposing over 5 million recycled plastic bottles has resonated with eco-conscious consumers, leading to their strong performance.

Here, we take a closer look at Kind Bag’s inspiring journey, uncovering the secrets behind its commercial success and exploring the strategies that have propelled it forward in the face of adversity.

How Kind Bag is thriving on the wave of conscious consumerism

Kind Bag’s UK sales increased by 55% compared to last year. It established a presence in the United States this year with the opening of its warehouse in Wisconsin, and successfully exported products to countries such as Australia, Spain, Italy, and France, among others, resulting in global sales accounting for approximately 50% of its total revenue.

The products are made from RPET fabric, created by recycling plastic bottles that were originally destined for the ocean or landfills. Not only does repurposing these bottles reduce plastic waste, but it also prevents harm to any marine ecosystems. 

The company prioritises ethical trade practices and has maintained long-term relationships with the same ethical factories since its inception. This dedication to ethical production ensures fair treatment of workers and supports sustainable supply chains

By aligning its company values with tangible actions, Kind Bag goes beyond mere claims of sustainability, making it a true champion of ethical and eco-friendly practices rather than engaging in greenwashing practices. From its core production process to its choice of materials and partnerships, the company demonstrates a holistic approach to sustainability. 

A female-owned and female-run business

One of the things the Startups judges loved about Kind Bag was the fact that it prides itself on being a female-owned and female-run business. 

Founder Maria Rodriguez expressed her delight at the company’s consistent growth amidst the UK’s current economic challenges and has ambitious plans for Kind Bag, aiming to more than double its size within the next year. Despite the cautious buying patterns of retailers and stockists, Kind Bag has prioritised nurturing its business relationships and implementing new procedures and systems to maximise performance. 

“We have chosen to really nurture the accounts we work with,” she states, “as well as spending time and money implementing new procedures and systems to ensure we maximise the company’s performance.”

Kind Bag has also moved into producing bespoke bags for other much-loved British institutions including English Heritage, Kew Gardens, Oxfam and the Southbank Centre.

Conscious consumerism on the rise

Sustainability was a continuing business trend for 2023

It remains a key consideration for 29% of consumers especially when shopping for clothing, with this figure rising to 36% among Gen Z’s (18-24 year-olds), and 62% of consumers worldwide refuse to compromise on sustainability even in times of economic uncertainty, according to a recent Shopify study. 

Kind Bag has capitalised on this trend by offering environmentally conscious shoppers a range of design-led, eco-friendly accessories, produced using recycled plastic bottles, and captured the loyalty of these environmentally-conscious consumers, with 20% of their customers being repeat purchasers.

Kind Bag’s success appears to be a testament to its organisational culture increasing the importance of conscious consumerism and the demand for sustainable products in the market. 

Rodriguez observes: “Sustainability continues to be the single biggest focus in fashion as increasing numbers of consumers consider the environmental impact of their shopping choices. 

Here at Kind Bag, we have a completely sustainable and ethical production process. Everything from the product itself, the ink we use, through to the packaging has been carefully chosen with the planet in mind.”

To see more brands that put purpose alongside profit, check out our SU100 sustainable startups shortlist.

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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