MEL Hemmings is someone who matches her thoughts and words with actions. Which is why her commitment to a sustainable environment has led to her setting up Bare + Fair, Woking’s first zero waste shop.
The Woking mother of three is now able to meet customers’ needs with a whole range of products from reusable straws, cups and bottles to tooth tabs and bamboo toothbrushes. She has a stall in Woking town centre’s Mercia Walk every Saturday morning and is now working with local businesses and outlets.
It’s been less than a year since she thought: “There are so many zero waste shops popping up around the country, I just wish there was somewhere like that in Woking.”
It was that germ of an idea which led her to launching Bare + Fair herself.
“It is exciting to have finally launched and to have received such an enthusiastic response from the public and from other local businesses and charities!” said Mel.
Just like any start-up Mel has found the whole process of setting up a business challenging: “I’ve been really grateful for the support there’s been for business start-ups. It helped that I signed up with the start-up club at Woking Works. It’s been really encouraging to meet other people who are in a sense in a similar position in terms of launching a business.”
However, unlike many other businesses, there’s hardly an area of her home life with husband Will and their children, Eva, Zoe and Theo, that hasn’t been a testing area for Mel’s project since she went to the WWF Living Planet Centre last year for a talk about how we live our lives at home and the impact it has on the environment.
“I had been increasingly concerned about what was going on with the planet – global warming, all the plastic waste and things and I didn’t really think there was much I could do about it. This really inspired me to just do what I could at home,” recalls Mel.
The initial target was to reduce the family’s household waste but while they had found this first step straight forward, it became more difficult to find the right products.
Her experience has shown her that one of the most valuable things she can offer her customers is her personal advice either in person or on social media. “I want to have the face to face with customers because I found that really helpful when I’ve tried out new products, to be able to talk with someone who’s already tried it.”
“It can be overwhelming so my take away is: It’s better to do something in the right direction than doing nothing at all. Just take it one step at a time especially if you’ve got a whole family to get on board.”
For the full feature get the 25 April edition of the News & Mail