Part 2 in a series where Krates Ng (co-founder of Mokugift environmental rewards) interviews fellow ecopreneurs. Today, Krates interviews Linda Lannon of PeopleTowels.
1) Why did you start PeopleTowels?
My business partner, Mary Wallace and I started PeopleTowels, because we believe that every person can have a positive impact on the environment by making small lifestyle changes. PeopleTowels is one of those small sustainable acts with a big environmental impact.
2) Is there a story about the name?
Actually my son came up with the name. We liked PeopleTowels because it’s a wake-up call that paper towels are a mindless convenience that are not eco-friendly. The name also empowers every person to have a sustainable choice rather than be forced to use paper towels or air dryers when they’re out and about.
3) What was the toughest challenge in getting your company started and how you got over that?
Our business is only 3 months old. Our biggest challenge is awareness. We are a new category in sustainability and we need to get the word out about our product and it’s environmental benefits. When people realize that by switching from paper towels to PeopleTowels in public restrooms, in one year they will save ¼ of a tree, decrease landfill by 23 lbs and conserve 250 gallons of water, they “get it.” Almost everyone we meet wants to do the right for the environment – something within their control that doesn’t cost a lot, yet has a positive environmental impact. Cloth grocery bags, coffee mugs at work, reusable water bottles and now PeopleTowels are part of that eco-friendly lifestyle. These small changes multiplied by millions really have an impact.
4) Can you describe the moment when you knew that PeopleTowels hit full stride as a business?
After 3 months, we have a ways to go before we hit full stride. However, I believe full stride for PeopleTowels will be similar to reusable water bottles—when PeopleTowels are widely adopted by individuals and businesses and the corresponding environmental benefits of saved trees, reduced landfill and water conservation are realized.
5) If you had to pick one product in your lineup, which one would you showcase and why?
While we’ve had nothing but a positive reaction to all of the eco-chic designs in our inaugural product line, the best-selling PeopleTowel is ‘This Is Not A Tree’. It says it all- with a funky all-over tree design and the words – This is not a tree. It’s really fun and our customers love it.
6) How is PeopleTowels going to grow in 2010? And how can other ecopreneurs help?
PeopleTowels will grow in 2010 in several ways. For the B2C aspect of our business we are using all the social media channels to spread the word about our new product. We are currently sponsoring our first annual Earth Day design contest. After the online voting for the best design we’ll manufacture the winner’s design on a PeopleTowel and sell it online. 2010 will be a strong year for the B2B side of the business as we develop and grow relationships with retail partners and businesses.
My fellow ecopreneurs can help in the same way I can help them— by creating awareness through their social media networks; be it blogs, Facebook or Twitter for PeopleTowels. At PeopleTowels we are constantly looking for eco-solutions, innovations and companies with whom we can partner or write about. I hope other ecopreneurs reading this blog will get in touch with me. I’ve meet some phenomenal ecopreneurs and though we have different approaches, different ideas; I believe we all have the same motivation for starting our new businesses—reducing our environmental impact and leaving the planet a better place for future generations.