Baby Got Backstory

BGBS 073: Lauren Gropper | Repurpose | It’s More About the Mission

July 28, 2021

BGBS 073: Lauren Gropper | Repurpose | It's More About the Mission

Lauren Gropper is the founder and CEO of Repurpose, the leader in plant-based tableware. An eco-entrepreneur and green architecture pioneer, Lauren began her career in sustainable design. 

Her early success led to a surprising career in Hollywood, working as a consultant to the industry with customers like Discovery Networks. 

Confronted with the waste generated by craft services, Lauren had an aha moment on-set. She founded Repurpose to extend the disposable lifespan of single use products and reduce waste. 

Today, Lauren leads Repurpose on its quest to change the world one low-impact cup, plate and fork at a time.

In this episode, you'll learn…

  • Repurpose products not only replace plastic, but also use around 70% less water and 65% less CO2 to make them. Now, about 70% of the product line is compostable as well.
  • Before Repurpose, Lauren worked in LA to make sustainable set designs in film and TV. She noticed that the set would be sustainable but people still needed to use disposable plastic all day, which first led her to question how to tackle this issue.
  • Use the code Repurpose20 when checking out at repurpose.com to get a 20% discount on any Repurpose product.

Quotes

[10:28] When you study sustainability and materials, I think you're just obsessed with how things are made and how they're disposed of. And so to me, it was like this design challenge, like, we still need to use these disposable products, so how do we make them more sustainable?

[11:00] Why are we using petroleum, oil from the ground, which is a finite resource and dirty and full of chemicals to make a product that we use for five minutes and then throw away, but then it lasts forever in the environment? That just makes zero sense. There has to be a better way.

[36:15] It is about the product, but it's so much more about the mission. And you know, that's what gets me excited is just kind of like, well, how much how much waste are we diverting? What are we doing to get rid of plastic and actually educate people and get people to change their ways?

Resources

Repurpose.com

Facebook: @repurpose

Twitter: @repurpose

Pinterest: @repurposetableware

Instagram: @repurpose

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Podcast Transcript

Lauren Gropper  0:02 

We absolutely are trying to do the right thing. We come from a sustainability background like we are working our butts off to make the best product available. And to give people an opportunity to use a disposable product that replaces plastic and No, it can't always be composted everywhere, but it's still significantly more sustainable than a plastic alternative. And I think people are so quick to point a finger to be like, well, if I can't, if I can't compost it, then what's the point of even having it and the fact is, you're still using 70% less water to make the product 65% less co2 to make it like the carbon footprint is significantly less. So I think people will just pick it apart and tear it apart. And it's like, well, you're sitting on your couch picking this apart and we're I'm like literally working my butt off to try and get the most sustainable option into your home.

 

Marc Gutman  0:56 

Podcasting from Boulder, Colorado. This is the Baby Got Backstory Podcast, where we dive into the story behind the story of today's most inspiring storytellers, creators and entrepreneurs. I like big backstories and I cannot lie. I am your host, Marc Gutman, Marc Gutman, and on today's episode of Baby got backstory. I hope you're enjoying the summer barbecues, cocktail parties and dinner parties and all the plastic cups and forks you're throwing into landfills. Well, don't you worry. Today we're talking to a founder and CEO who solved that problem with plants. That's right, plants instead of plastic. And before we get into this episode, I want to welcome you back to another summer episode of Baby Got Back story. These episodes are recorded in boardshorts. Instead of our normal studio in Colorado, a shared room in my family summer cottage in Michigan. When I'm not recording, the room is occupied by one of my young nieces in the crib that you can see if you're watching on video. Hey, we're in the mid zone of summer, you're happy. You're feeling Spry, you're on vacation, or you can't get work done because everyone you work with is on vacation when you're not. Let's be honest, you don't have much to do. So here's one thing to fill your schedule, head over to Apple or Spotify and give us a five star rating and review. Ratings really do matter. Apple and Spotify use these ratings as part of the algorithm that determines ratings on their charts, even during the summer, especially during the summer. Oh, and we like likes and follows and ratings and all that too. So thank you for your reviews. I really do appreciate it. Today's guest is Lauren Gropper, CEO and founder of Repurpose the leader in plant based tableware. an eco entrepreneur in green architecture pioneer, Lauren began her career in sustainable design. Her early success led to a surprising career in Hollywood, working as a consultant to the industry with customers like discovery networks. confronted with the waste generated by craft services, Lauren had an aha moment onset, she founded Repurpose to extend the disposable lifespan of single use products and reduce waste. Today Lauren leads Repurpose on its quest to change the world. One low impact cup plate and fork at a time in this is her story.

 

I am here with Lauren Gropper, founder and CEO of Repurpose, Lauren. Welcome to the Baby Got Back story podcast summer edition. We're both having some summer sort of things in the background. So you might have a little bit of construction. I have a baby crib for those of you that are watching the video. Welcome to the show. Thanks Mark. And I actually have that same ball that I see in your background. Yes, it says my back it's for when I'm when I'm doing serious work and what would I do without a yoga ball? Definitely not yo can tell you that. But thanks again for coming on the show. Lauren. Once you tell us a little bit about Repurpose. What is Repurpose?

 

Lauren Gropper  4:26 

So Repurpose is a brand that makes plant based compostable alternatives to everyday disposable plastic. Essentially, we're trying to get rid of plastic with more sustainable alternatives.

 

Marc Gutman  4:38 

Yeah. And so is this something that is you know, help us educate some of the listeners out there those that may or may not be familiar with this type of of cutlery if you will, in plates and things like that. Is this common or do we see this a lot or is this a pretty new idea?

 

Lauren Gropper  4:59 

I think this is Pretty common now, actually, we've been We've been in business for just over 10 years, which is kind of crazy. But yes, we are, we are everywhere. So you can find us, everywhere in the US and most grocery stores from your local natural food store to your Walmart, and kind of everything in between. So we are very widely available out there in the world that of course on Amazon and our website, repurpose.com. You can find us everywhere, everywhere.

 

Marc Gutman  5:29 

And so, you know, I know a bit of your story takes place in Southern California. Is that where you grew up? Or did you grew up someplace differently? No, I'm I'm Canadian. I grew up in Vancouver, Canada. All right. Well, hey there for Canadian friends out there to the north. I am a big fan of Canada's you know, if you listen to the podcast, I grew up in Detroit. So we you know, it's kind of our cousin, or sibling, just to the south. Actually. That's a question that every grandparent will ask you. What's the first foreign country you come to when you go south from Detroit? And it's actually Brooks thunder, but I digress a little bit. And so when you were growing up in Vancouver, is a younger girls, young lady, Was this something that you were like, concerned about? Were you concerned about? plastics and thinking, even at that time of how do I how do I solve this problem?

 

Lauren Gropper  6:28 

No. I mean, I grew up very much interested in environmental issues. I, you know, I think growing up in Canada, you have a lot of access to nature. And my parents weren't particularly outdoorsy at all. But through school, we got to do bunch of trips. And I ended up doing actually a program in high school, where do you spend six months of the year for not six months, but half the year doing outdoor education and you're not in the classroom, your snow campaign, you're rock climbing, you're kayaking, you're doing big back country hiking trips. And that's kind of the education then you cram the rest into the other part of the year. It's called Trek. And I think I mean, I did it when I was 15, super formative time, and just became really interested in environmental issues in the outdoors. I think at one point, I thought I was gonna be like a, you know, a back country guide. That was that was a trade early on. But yeah, I think that's what really kind of created the the passion about all things environmental. And I went on to study that in college. And so I just sort of like kept building and building but it was always my interest from not always but you know, from young high school age. I had no idea about plastic or what was wrong with plastic, but the environment was kind of the thing for me sustainability. Yeah. And so

 

Marc Gutman  7:53 

if that was the dream to be a back country guide to be in the sustainability business, is that what happened after you left school?

 

Lauren Gropper  8:01 

No, I know, I, that was sort of the early dream. And I just didn't really know where I wanted to be. I studied geography, environmental studies, I ended up doing a lot of international travel after college. So I spent a significant amount of time and in Costa Rica, it was like a Canadian Peace Corps program I did. And that was incredible. And then spent some time in Southeast Asia. And just really, I wanted to do something, I think internationally and something in sustainability. But it's hard to find a career in that. Or at least I couldn't at the time. But in my travels, got really interested in design and architecture. And then like urban planning, and cities and design, and I found a program in New York, that basically was the study of stainable design and green building. And that was a project in New York. So I went and met with them and became really interested in the program. And so I ended up studying there. And my career was was on on track to be in this sustainable building sustainable design world. And I was obsessed with it. So that was my that was my dream. And that was my early career.

 

Marc Gutman  9:11 

No, yeah. And that was your early career. But then what happened? How did you get involved in this idea for Repurpose?

 

Lauren Gropper  9:21 

So I was doing green building work mostly in in New York and a little bit in Toronto. And through that, I had kind of like dabbled in television production. So I had hosted a show very early on and on HGTV in Toronto. And that got me kind of interested in just the whole film intelligence side of things and opened my eyes to kind of set building and set design and in that world, and I randomly had an opportunity to come to LA to do sustainable design for sets. And I thought, that sounds really cool. I'd love to do that. I'd love to sort of like take what I've learned From the building world, and bring it to film and TV. And so came out to LA this just now probably 12 years ago, 13 years ago, maybe, and started working on on sets and set design and making them more sustainable. And lo and behold, you make a set really sustainable, but you still need to use disposable plastic all day. That's where I was like, Ooh, there's got to be a solution for this too. And, you know, when you study sustainability and materials, I think you're just obsessed with how things are made and how they're disposed of. And so to me, it was like this design challenge, like, how can we still need to use these disposable products? So how, how do we make them more sustainable? At the time, I really wasn't thinking in kind of like, how do we, how do we shake up this model? And maybe move to like a reusable model? I actually didn't have that kind of foresight. But at the time, I was like, how can we just look at the materials we're using? As in? Why are we using petroleum? Well, from the ground, which is a finite resource, and dirty and full of chemicals to make a product that we use for five minutes and then throw away, but then it lasts forever in the environment, like that just makes zero sense. So I just there has, there has to be a better way. And of course, there is and there was, and that was to use plant based plastic, it's plant based chemistry, essentially. And the technology was just in its infancy back then. But it seemed to me like this is going to be huge, this is going to be the future. And we can't be using this old stuff anymore. I just, I sort of viewed it the way that I had seen kind of the the green building space really blossom. Like in the early days, everything was kind of clunky and really expensive and didn't work as well. But then it sort of as it gained momentum. And as demand increased for new building technologies and materials, the industry matured and the price came down and trails got better. And I thought that sort of same trajectory could be applied to this plastic disposable plastic space. And I was really interested in creating a brand, kind of, you know, being the Kleenex of compostable plant based products. And so I just figured, you know what, I am young enough. If this all blows up in my face, I can go back to doing what I was doing before, which I loved anyway. And why not go for it? It seemed like there was just like a right place, right time kind of opportunity. And what do I have to lose was kind of the thought I didn't have any idea what I was getting into though. Like it's that typical entrepreneurial naivete where you're like, Oh, of course, I can do it. But had no idea kind of the challenges that lay ahead.

 

Marc Gutman  12:46 

Yeah, totally. And you make it sound so easy. And like, let's take a step back. Because here you are, you're doing sustainable set design. You know, I come up literally with 100 ideas a day that are all amazing, I execute none of them, you know? And so like, and I get even like, I mean, I can't tell you how many times I hang out with people that are very angry about sustainable issues. Hey, why are we Why are we using this silverware? And when it could be you know, for five minutes and it goes back to the ground? Why are we doing this? Why are we doing that? But the reality is, not many people take action, right? And I have to imagine so if you could take us back a little bit take us back to like that moment. And okay, your your pod, you're like you're angry about plastic, but you have a day job to like what like, like, like, how did you actually like, like, figure like, maybe there's something here? Maybe there's even a business? I mean, like, like, how did that all come about?

 

Lauren Gropper  13:48 

Really, it was that there was just an incredible kind of confluence of factors all happening at the same time, that sort of felt like, Okay, I have to act on this, because all of these things are coming together without me trying that hard. There was a supplier relationship through a connection that we had that was just sort of fell in our lap, and one of our early partners, Brian Chung, who had this family relationship to one of the biggest producers of these products in the world. And so that kind of felt like, well, that's super unique, and we have this unique access. And then I think being in LA and the proximity to the sets and then sort of the Hollywood aspect and celebrity influencers etc. It kind of felt like we can if we're trying to build a brand and this was before like real influencers, you know, but it was like, Okay, we have access to some celebrities and and we can get on TV and we can do product placement really easily. So in the early days, we were getting our product on like all these different shows, which is really great. And it was just like all these factors, we felt like this gives us a unique leg up and let's give it a shot. Like, we've got the supply relationship, we've got a place to put this stuff with all the elements are kind of in place. They weren't all in place, but we thought they were like, I mean, I had the limited knowledge we had of how do you start a company? You know, we had some of the basic building blocks. And so it sort of felt like, Well, you know, this is all here, let's, let's give it a shot. It just kind of felt like we can start small scale. And if we get some traction, great, and if not, like we haven't, you know, I'm keeping my day job. Yeah, who

 

Marc Gutman  15:31 

was that first customer like, like, how did you even like solve this or like, actually transact for something like revenue.

 

Lauren Gropper  15:39 

Our first customer was, we were doing some stuff on on sets, but it was such small potatoes and like catering, you know, like, it was like a small catering kind of company. And then we were doing some PR around kind of the company and it caught the Bed, Bath and Beyond. And you're the president of Bed, Bath and Beyond. And they wanted our product, they want to try it. And we were like, Oh my god, jackpot, even though whatever it was the tiny Po, but we really felt like, Oh, this is something. And that, you know, I think just having like that 100% like, wide eyed super cane attitude and like, no knowledge of what it really was going, like, we were just so enthusiastic and thought we'd you know, any little when it was like the biggest win for us. And we didn't really have a sense of kind of, you know, what is what what a real business entails, and kind of like, what those mechanics are. And so we were just thrilled to be selling our products, you know, like, wow, this company switch from plastic, like, it was just this, like youthful name tags. And, and very kind of altruistic, genuine, you know, we're really trying to change something here. And it's kind of working. Looking back, we were like, way too early. Like, there was zero mass, you know, awareness or adoption. But, you know, those little wins, like meant everything to us. And we were like, Yeah, let's do it. We just were just so gung ho on, you know, having a product that we designed and was out there in the world, like that was just so cool to us.

 

Marc Gutman  17:31 

A common question I get all the time is Mark, can you help me with our brand? Yes, we help companies solve branding problems. And the first step would be to schedule a no obligation brand clarity call, we'll link to that in the show notes, or head over to wildstory.com and send us an email, we'll get you booked right away. So whether you're just getting started with a new business, or whether you've done some work and need a refresh, for whether you're a brand that's high performing and wants to stay there, we can help. After you book, your brand clarity call, you'll learn about our brand audit and strategy process will identify if you need a new logo or just a refresh, will determine if your business has a branding problem. And you'll see examples of our work and get relevant case studies. We'll also see if branding is holding your business back and can help you get to the next level. So what are you waiting for? Build the brand you've always dreamed of. Again, we'll link to that in the show notes or head over to wildstory.com and send us an email. Now back to the show.

 

Yeah, and so what was that early product like like, you know, talked a lot. And it was it like fully baked and like did it come back the way you wanted. I talked to a lot of entrepreneurs, you get their first prototype, and they're like, Oh, this is not it. You know,

 

Lauren Gropper  19:02 

we have just we had started actually in the cup business. So we weren't making cutlery or plates or you know, in a trash bag or anything we're making today. But we had a cup that was like to replace kind of like a plastic cup for cold drinks. And so we had a cold cup and then we had this hot cup that was very unique. It was made from all plant based materials. And it felt like this kind of like velvet, felt like velvet on the outside, which acted kind of like an insulation barrier and you didn't need a sleeve. And it just had this amazing feel. And then we had our logo and all like the plant based info was our old brand but old branding look and feel same Repurpose brand, but just different, different kind of look and feel but just have this amazing feel. And anyone that had in their hands was like What is this? This is so cool. Oh, and it's plant based and lid was also plant based. So the whole thing was compostable. It was like we went all these awards for like most Innovative cup, blah, blah, blah. And that was our super cool entry product. But it's actually the factory since shutdown. So that product is no longer but it was an awesome product when we launched it.

 

Marc Gutman  20:16 

And when you started the business, What did it look like in terms of the organization? It was you and and how many people?

 

Lauren Gropper  20:23 

Yeah, it was myself, I had the original original co founder who actually left the business after about a year. So him, Brian Chung, who is our supply partner, and we produced in Taiwan. So he was the, he's Taiwanese American, but it was his family. And then Cory, co founder, who was really came in from the PR and marketing side, and did all of our early kind of PR and marketing and actually sales as well. So that was the core team. And then in Jordan, to who's one of our co founders. He was a very early investor and who came on actually as our CEO, and co founder. So his tiny team, our first employer is still with us today. Her name is Sarah harden, she was our initially kind of like our office manager. And now she's our, basically our controller slash, you know, how to finance and is amazing. So yeah, it was tiny, tiny literally was out of a living room. Now,

 

Marc Gutman  21:21 

and you mentioned that you're everywhere today, what's the organization look like today, now that you've grown 1012 years later,

 

Lauren Gropper  21:28 

we're still small, we're about 25. Full time, we probably got another 10 or so part time. And then we've got probably, that in the 50 to 100, kind of boots on the ground wraps. And that doesn't include any, like our warehousing is outsourced our, our supplier partners, I mean, if you count all them, it's in the hundreds. But core team like head office is 25. Yeah,

 

Marc Gutman  21:54 

and so like, what's hard about plant based silverware and cups in in this business? Like, what's, what's hard about it?

 

Unknown Speaker  22:04 

Everything. I think it's it's been a real challenge on a number of fronts, I think what's always been a challenge is kind of staying ahead of the sustainability curve. So the technology's changing it up, but every couple of years, it changes. And so number one, you have to stay ahead of those changes. And sometimes those changes are more expensive, sometimes those changes are really difficult to produce. Sometimes those changes aren't feasible or can't happen all at once. And so you're constantly having to manage for a change in your, in your product. It's not just like, okay, mass produced, mass produced, keep going, you're constantly iterating and constantly changing. And that's a huge kind of operational challenge in itself. And then also, from a messaging point of view, like you're changing your ingredients, you're making them more sustainable, which is which is great. I mean, it was one of the methods, that's a positive, but it is hard, and then how do you manage the kind of economics of it? That's, that's hard. I think the early days of fundraising were very challenging. We had you know, we were in a new industry, we're trying to disrupt a humungous, you know, well established industry and category with a little tiny team with the dream like it was, we didn't have a lot of, I'd say institutional investors that really believe we could pull it off. So, you know, raising money was tough. You know, hiring the right people, everything about it. Everything is is it's the most challenging thing I've ever done by a mile by a million miles. Just it's super fun, because it is I like challenging things. I like being challenged. But sometimes I wish there was a bit of a break. I mean, it just is kind of relentless. You kind of you handle one area, and then another one was that and then you handle that, then you're you know, it's just, I'm sure you hear this from every every entrepreneur, it's like juggling the plates.

 

Unknown Speaker  24:12 

A lot of juggling.

 

Marc Gutman  24:14 

A lot of juggling. So that's that's what's hard about it, like what do people get wrong? Right, like, what do you what do you want people to know? What do people miss understand about your space and your product?

 

Lauren Gropper  24:27 

I think with any sustainability business, there's so much kind of like, I don't know, there's there's a lot of greenwash out there from companies sort of claiming to do the right thing and not and so you're held to a higher standard, you have to be more accountable. And people will pick apart every little thing that you do. And I think what I would want people to know is that all of us come from this, at least in our company, we come from a real place of we absolutely try and do the right thing. We come from sustainability. backround like we are working our butts off to make the best product available. And to give people an opportunity to use a disposable product that replaces plastic and No, it can't always be composted everywhere, but it's still significantly more sustainable than a plastic alternative. And I think people are so quick to point a finger to be like, well, if I can't, if I can't compost it, then what's the point of even having it and the fact is, you're still using 70% less water to make the product 65% less co2 to make it like the carbon footprint is significantly less. So I think people will just pick it apart and tear it apart. It's like, well, you're sitting on your couch, picking this apart, and we're I'm like, literally working my butt off to try and get the most sustainable option into your home. So relax.

 

It's like, Oh, God, we're trying, you only knew like the blood, sweat and tears that are going into this from a very altruistic place. Like, very annoying when, when people don't get that.

 

Marc Gutman  26:04 

No, it's great. And the idea that, look, this isn't like black and white, we need to get there over time. And we don't always have the technology, but like using the technology we do have is infinitely better than not using it. And so I think that you know, whether it is, yeah, whether it's plant based utensils, or anything else for that matter. I mean, this happens in a lot of different industries. It's like we kind of use the the technology we have at the time, and we got to we got to build on it. And so I could see how that could be a real challenge. You know, you mentioned branding, a lot brand building, like what role does this mean, the the idea of brand strategy and brand building play in your business? How important is that to your business?

 

Lauren Gropper  26:45 

It's interesting, it's, it's, we're in a very unique category. Because at these, it's sort of a big question for us Do people really care about the brain that they're getting their their plates and forks and comes from, or they just want it to be sustainable, and they don't really care what the brand is, I think there are people that don't really care, they just want to know that it's sustainable. But I think there's a growing number, especially the younger generation, like Gen Z and millennial that do care, that really, really care about who they're buying these products from, and they want to know who this company is like they don't want to be buying, you know, from a company that makes plastic out of one hand, and then they've got you know, a line of compost and a lot of the other side of their business, I think they want to know that they're supporting an authentic company that is really doing the right thing. So for us, it's really important to continue to tell our story, and talk about what we're doing and why we're doing it and be really transparent and engage with our community. And I think it's more and more important, especially as kind of the people are buying more online and can really kind of dig into like, who the companies are, it's not just about convenience, like, Okay, this one's on the shelf. So I'll just put in my basket, like they're actually they're on Amazon, or they're on our site, or wherever they are, they can access in an instant, like, Who is this company? And, you know, why am I buying it. But we are in a category, I will say where it's price sensitive, you know, price plays a big factor. So we always have to keep that in mind. Like we have to be price competitive, but at the same time offer kind of like that, that brand. And that authentic experience, and sometimes that you know, those, those are difficult things to Mary. But that's our challenge. That's what we're trying to do.

 

Marc Gutman  28:40 

Yeah, I mean, and I think that this is a really interesting topic when it comes to branding, because a lot of people think, you know, the, the old, the old definition was your logo and your identity. And I think most people have, a lot of people have evolved past that. And I understand it's the, the underlying ethos of what you do. It's how you act, it's how you behave, it's how you communicate. But at the end of the day, a brand, which is a business most often, typically needs to make money. And so like how do you marry those two, right? Like, because you can't, you have to service that and you can't ignore that. And you can't say that, well, I'm just gonna do all this stuff. I've heard of those discussions happen in your business.

 

Lauren Gropper  29:24 

It's a constant. It's a constant discussion. It's a constant challenge of sort of like, cuz you can put all your budget into marketing and branding. I mean, for us, what we do feel that we need to do and need to do more of is build awareness. I think a lot of people have no idea that we exist. Or if they do, they just kind of notice in general as a category, they don't know that we're a particular brand. They don't know about the technology necessarily. They don't know anything about composting, they don't know that even plant base, alternative to plastic could exist. I think more so now. But when we first started, that was like we had to educate people on what the product even was, and why should even exist. Now, it's different people are really interested, they're looking for it. So we need to be out there presenting ourselves saying, Here we are, please, you know, take a look at us. So for us, it's about, you know, and you can track, you can track ROI in marketing efforts now. So, you know, of course, you need to make money, but you can understand kind of what's working and what's not. And so we just do more of what's working unless of what's not, but there is kind of that top of funnel awareness play, that you can always trace to ROI that you still need to do, because people need to know who we are looking at, when they when they know about us. And in general, we find that they buy us because we're not we're not a niche product, we're not priced significantly more like we're priced competitively. We offer a better product. I mean, there's all the reasons to buy. So it's just you have to know that we exist.

 

Marc Gutman  31:12 

Yeah, and it makes me think about like, back to even when you started this and probably the the competitive fight that you're in today. I mean, there are you kind of alluded to this, I mean, there's some multinational global conglomerates that are in this space, like, yeah, like like, like, hey, what made you think that you could take them on I love that you're like, I'm just gonna take on the biggest companies in the world and with the biggest distribution networks and whatever else they have, and be what's that like today? Like, like, how do you outmaneuver them from a competitive standpoint, and keep keep them on their toes, we had

 

Lauren Gropper  31:47 

sort of looked at the CPG space as a whole and just kind of like these better for you organic brands, and more in food and beverage, and I guess cleaning as well as examples. Like we had seen all these tiny little brands when we started take on these huge players. And when, like, we were looking at like method cleaning and Mrs. Myers and these are like they're taking on tide. I mean, they're just, and they were they weren't doing well. And so it felt like there was an appetite at least there was an appetite in other areas like organic food was already taking off all the organic, better few baby food, toys, you know, cleaning products, personal care, beauty, all these things were kind of changing when we came in. And we sort of felt like, well, then why in this category is everything still so old school, like nothing has changed in 50 years. Everything looks exactly the same. And I think it's just like, because there was no distribute, like, people didn't know that there could be an alternative. So I think we figured let's just, you know, this market is gigantic. And yes, it is controlled by these large multinationals. But there's room there's room for a challenger brand like us. And so that's I guess we just had kind of the balls to, to go after it. Of course, it's still a challenge. Like they can win on it. They've got the distribution, they've got the marketing dollars, they've got the muscle. But it all comes down to what does the consumer want to they want the green product from the green, authentic brand? That's woman owned and women land and has a diverse team, or do they want the green product from the big plastic company. And what we're seeing this in in these early days is they want the green product from the green company. You know, and so that's when you go back to the brand piece, like we have to tell our story. And we have to make people aware of who we are because when they know who we are, they will choose us over the big bad plastic company. Not everybody. But a growing number of people. Well, yeah.

 

Marc Gutman  34:03 

Like what are you most excited about? As you look towards the future with Repurpose,

 

Lauren Gropper  34:10 

we are just dipping our toes into e commerce and kind of B to C and really building brand in a way that we haven't before. And I am super excited to get that going and get that started. We're launching a bunch of new products. So now our products are about 70% of our line is home compostable, which means it will break down in the backyard environment in less than a year. Which is amazing from a sustainability standpoint. We'd like to get that 200% and we're getting closer and the tech and technology is changing to get us there. So we're on top of that and we're very ahead of that which is so exciting. And I think it's only going to improve more. So from a sustainability standpoint, super excited about kind of where things are going with our products, we have a whole new line coming out. So we're launching with bamboo toilet paper that's FSC certified, so it's sustainably grown bamboo, bamboo toilet paper, bamboo paper towel. We're doing sandwich bags that are home compostable claim wrap. We have a big launch coming out next year, which I can't say yet, but it's an alternative to the party red cup. So a lot of really cool items that I think just make kind of convenience more sustainable. And going back to our conversation earlier, like, we totally are all about, use reusable items first, like, do as much as you can reusable, but there are always instances where you need to use a disposable product, and it should be something as sustainable as possible. By Repurpose.

 

Marc Gutman  35:53 

Did you ever think prior to starting this business that you'd be Geeking? out on clean rap? Oh, my God, plastic? Toilet paper? paper towel?

 

Lauren Gropper  36:02 

No, it's like, see, that's what it's so funny. Because I have relatives that are like, Oh my god, she makes plates and cups and like, how's the dish were going? And it's so much less about the actual I mean, it is about the product, but it's so much more about the mission. And you know, that's what gets me excited is just kind of like, well, how much how much waste? Are we diverting? What are we doing to get rid of plastic and actually educate people and get people to change their ways? So funny because yeah, it's always like, well, do I really geek out? I do geek out on plates now. But it's funny anytime I look at a cup. I'm like looking at this and like looking at the you know, what is the main? But yeah, it's it's all about the whys.

 

Marc Gutman  36:45 

Well and as we come to the end of our time here. I'd like to think back to young Lauren on that six month outdoor ed program backpacking around high ideals and what do you think she'd say if she saw where you are today?

 

Lauren Gropper  37:01 

What would little Lauren say? I think she'd be pretty proud. I think she'd be happy.

 

Marc Gutman  37:13 

And that is Lauren Gropper, CEO and founder of Repurpose. A big thank you to Lauren and the team at Repurpose, we will link to all things Lauren and Repurpose in the shownotes. We even have a special promo code of Repurpose20 for anyone that would like a 20% discount on any Repurpose products. If you know of a guest who should appear on our show, please drop me a line at podcast@wildstory .com. Our best guests like Lauren come from referrals from past guests and our listeners. Well that's the show. keep enjoying your summer. Until next time, make sure to visit our website www dot wildstory.com where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, Stitcher or via RSS see you'll never miss an episode a lot big stories and I cannot lie to you other storytellers can't deny

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