We love dealing with all of our suppliers and we have a fantastic relationship with all of them. So that you get an idea of why we stock certain ranges, we are doing a “Wikaniko Meets” with our wonderful suppliers.
Back in October, Kate caught up with Sally, founder of Vida Natural – creator of some of our amazing gift products.
Hello, It’s Kate here from Wikaniko and toad I am chatting with the lovely sally who is the founder of Vida Natural. They make the wonderful Seed Paper Cards that we sell and quite frankly, we sell them like hot cakes. There are often times throughout the year where we cannot keep them in stock. As soon as we get them in, they going flying out again and we’re back on to Sally straight away “we’ve just got the order and now we need some more”. Especially in the run up to Christmas the cards just fly. Of course most recently we have started stocking your beautiful wrapping paper as well – which we LOVE.
Now I believe you actually started Vida Natural because similarly to us actually, and why we started, you wanted to do something to help people use less plastic and able able to access to other more eco friendly options when it came to purchases we need and want to make.
Sally: Definitely. I would say it was about 3 years ago now, we were desperate to reduce the plastic in our house as it’s heart breaking when you go to the recycling bin and then people say it doesn’t really get recycled or it goes here or there, so I just wanted to cut it out completely. So I kind of just started in the kitchen with sponges and things you don’t think about but actually are really damaging so I started a long time ago with some kitchen clothes, quite basic, and then moved in to gifts and really wanted to focus on gifts side of things. I’d got all the kitchen replacements and things like that but really it was the gifts I was getting more passionate about. Then just last year at the beginning of lockdown I came across some seed paper and though “I’m going to make a card out of that and send to one of my friends and made up a little pack as well, and then thought “ooh I really like these” and then they went insane and Christmas last year – I just didn’t expect it at all and they went crazy. Since then it’s just grown and grown and Christmas time as well, a lot of corporate places are sending out the email cards which nobody really reads and its so unpersonal, so it’s been getting busier and all sorts of different areas of client bases and things and developed various seed paper products, which my brain goes “what about this, what about this” and I had to be calmed down. So it goes a bit crazy. Really we’ve now moved into eco gifting rather than all the other bits and pieces and it seems to be working well for us.
Kate: Brilliant, and I love the fact you almost started with the cards by accident – sometimes I think that’s how the best things start. And they fly, people absolutely love them. Am I right in saying you actually design and illustrate them all yourself, is that right?
Sally: I’ve got a local artist who does a lot of them for me, other graphic designs, not so natural but it’s just the different looking styles and designs people like. And I have found that the more sketchy kind of ones and the ones particularly by the artist that I use are hot selling I would say because they are bit more natural looking. But then everyone is different so that’s quite hard to get my head around as in I may not actually choose something particularly like that and the different sort of tastes and things like that, so it’s quite tricky to keep on top of the designs but it’s great fun just going through and trying to pick things out.
Kate: You’re right, it is hard because even when we are ordering them in I’ll be like I love that one, and I love that one, maybe not that one, but that will be the ONE that really sells. One of our best selling ones, and it’s only middle of October but one of our best selling ones is this one. Also people are really getting them in early this year.
So what so far would you say has been your biggest challenge that you’ve had with your business?
Sally: Well recently it’s been getting someone on board to help me and giving up a little bit of things because it’s just got so crazy and insane and I’ve got two small children and trying to do that, especially over lockdown, was a nightmare. So I’ve recently taken someone on who is very organized and my organization skills are horrendous and I go off on a tangent and for her to be there and say “calm down Sally, that’s enough – just stop and focus on something” is great and that has been my main challenge – just trying to keep on top of everything. Then there’s the behind the scene admin and stuff that is just dull.
Kate: That’s great, I’m glad that you have helpful help on board.
Sally: The other thing that I’m quite fortunate with is that pretty much everything is UK based and made so I haven’t had the challenge of getting things Imported and the challenge of Brexit. I have stopped supplying the EU because at this moment in time, I have enough of the market in the UK so that could have been a big challenge but I knocked that on the head. It’s nice that it’s all UK make so people are able to carry on a s before.
Kate: What’s your favourite part of your business?
Sally: I sit there and my mind just goes crazy. I love the relationship with my stockists. We’ve been through a few times where we’ve been “should we do online ordering?” but I’ve literally squashed that because I like interacting with people and it’s difficult not being able to go and visit people as well and thing like that. Everyone in the eco industry just seems to be lovely and it’s a lovely industry to be in.
Kate: It really is and with our distributors, everybody is supporting everybody and it doesn’t matter if they are in the same team or working somewhere else. Everyone id friendly and wants to help.
You’ve been doing this for a few years now, do you think over the last few years, you’ve seen people’s habits changing?
Sally: Definitely. I think over lockdown have sat at home and assessed quite a lot and there have been lots of programs, and David Attenborough have drilled it in. And people that maybe wouldn’t normally think to much about it have had time to think “that’s easy to ditch that” and things like that. And also changing their views – especially on recycling. Also with the cards particularly, people haven’t been able to see each other and they love to send a greeting. And because the cards have a different meaning behind them all. The seed cards are made with a pollinator mix and so are helping the bees and keeping them going.
It’s just keeping people in touch – and it’s a nice way of doing it. I think in general, I do think people have been able to step back and reflect.
Kate: The cards aren’t just cards, they are getting a gift as well and it’s a lovely thing.
Do you have a favourite product?
Sally: Probably the Wild Flower card, it was one of the first ones we did and it went crazy and to be honest it was one of the first ones to go into the National Trust shops across the UK – so that has been a real big one. It’s just interesting to see where the designs go.
Kate: Do you have a did you know about your business?
Sally: Not really, It’s something I just fell into and I’ve always been known as someone that has ideas and most of them go to the wayside and then finally one has just taken off.
Kate: Thank you so much for taking the time out to do this. I know you are super swamped but it’s lovely having a chat with you and getting to know you a bit better. Thank you so much.
Watch the full interview
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