58. The Cheeky Panda
With the plastic-free movement gaining traction, this start-up is on a mission to prove that its bamboo tissue products are the way forward
Founders: Chris Forbes and Julie Chen
Founded: January 2016
Laying claim to being the first business of its kind in the UK, The Cheeky Panda has created a range of ultra-sustainable, low carbon and healthy bamboo tissue products.
But why bamboo? According to The Cheeky Panda’s website, it’s the fastest growing plant in the world – meaning it’s in plentiful supply. It’s also a softer and kinder substance for skin.
The founders of this unique enterprise are Chris Forbes and Julie Chen.
Chen had already run an online dance shoes retail business and has a background in eco products, whilst Forbes had run a global executive recruitment business that counted PwC, EY, Capgemini, and UBS as clients.
After running a Crowdfunder campaign which established there was a market for their product – and which helped to finance initial production – The Cheeky Panda’s bamboo-based toilet, kitchen and facial tissues can now be found in Ocado, Wholefoods, As Nature Intended, and has even been selected as an Amazon’s choice product.
It also sells business-to-business (B2B) to organisations including Lyreco, Jangro, Channel, Alexander McQueen, Standard Life, Treasury, Pinsent Masons, American Airline and British Airways.
The Cheeky Panda’s commitment to sustainability is not just a marketing ploy: for every pack of tissues bought it donates money into protecting the rainforests of Vietnam.
As it continues to educate the market about the environmental and health benefits of using bamboo tissue, the company intends to be stocked with major supermarkets in 2018 and will be launching into German and French Supermarkets and online in China.
“We are pioneers for green eco businesses”, say Forbes and Chen, “showing that you can make profitable high quality sustainable products that don’t cost the earth”.