Have you thought about how many useless things we accumulate for years? It’s not only bad for our pockets but also terribly concerning for the environment; as we live on a planet affected by high levels of pollution, waste issues, and global warming.
We all agree that ethical awareness doesn’t happen from one day to another. But we can do some small and effective changes. Choosing ethical products is one of those steps.
FRoG has the mission of helping people to reduce their waste, plastic and general, and to provide affordable, functional, and ethical products. Let’s check how they started this which can also lead us to a zero-waste lifestyle.
Midlands Traveller: Tell me a little bit about your background in business.
Niki Fajd: Both James and I have been working in catering and hospitality forever. I had experience in very different roles, from the front house to the back office, working with purchasing, sales, and accounting tasks.
Also, a few years ago I started to study with Open University towards a degree in business and environment, so I guess that the areas I have the least hands-on experience in, I make up for with some theoretical knowledge. But to be honest, all of this is very new to us, and we are pretty much learning along the way.
MT: When did you first start living an ethical + eco-friendly lifestyle?
NF: Ethical awareness and the actions that follow don’t happen from one day to another. For as long as I can remember, I loved and respected nature, and always tried to live with that in mind, however for a very long I wasn’t aware of how bad global warming, waste issues, water shortages, etc were. I probably was just too young to see or really understand.
About 10 years ago, I came across the Slow Food Movement, which passionately promotes, GM-free, organic, natural products.
Ones that come from small farms and are made by real people. And food like that is not ‘fast’ in any sense of the word, it takes time and effort. After that, my awareness shifted and I applied slow and graduate changes.
Another big shift in our lives started when our daughter, Maya was born 5 years ago.
Having a small baby makes you notice all the pointless and useless stuff that is being pushed upon new parents, and then eventually just end up in a landfill. From one day to another, you get to see more and more and more stuff, that just get wasted produced, transported and sold with using finite resources.
Just so that we can buy it, and shortly realise that we don’t even need it. The linear economy is pointless and only promotes short-term growth, without caring about its long-term effects.
MT: How did you come up with the idea of a business like yours?
NF: We’ve been talking about starting a little family venture for a while, and because we put a lot of thought into it, and a lot of time planning and waiting, it had to be one that ticked all the boxes.
The most important point on our list was to be ethical and to offer something that does not have any negative effects on the environment. It also needed to be something that can build a community and can help us as much as others to grow and go further on our journey to living an eco-friendly life.
MT: Tell me about FRoG’s mission and what products and services do you offer?
NF: Our mission is to help people reduce their waste, plastic and general, and to provide affordable, functional, and ethical products.
MT: What is unique about FRoG?
NF: However, there are a few online, plastic-free shops around (with new ones popping up weekly), this kind of shopping experience is still unique and niche.
Offering a selection of ethically produced, and sourced products that are all aiming to minimise our negative impact on the planet is unique. What makes us different from the other shops is our added personality, I’d like to think.
MT: What is your kind of clientele?
NF: I’d like to think that FRoG has some products to offer for everyone. However, an environmentally conscious mind is probably what all our customers share.
MT: What are the challenges of a business like yours?
NF: Being an online store has a lot of advantages, but it also has challenges. It doesn’t allow the same kind of experience, and opportunity to talk about your products and mission as a shop would with face-to-face sales.
One of the other challenges are being an online shop of low waste products is that we still have to package and post our orders, which feels slightly counterproductive. We are very conscious about reusing and reusing everything that we can, and when we do use new boxes, they are all recyclable, but it’s still not ideal.
Another challenge is to promote or push sales, especially over holiday seasons, when in reality, all that we care about is the reduction of buying-selling ‘stuff’. However, we do not sell any pointless stuff! Everything has a purpose and function in our shop, and everything is gentle on the environment.
MT: How is FRoG helping people to adapt themselves to a more sustainable lifestyle?
NF: Along with the wide range of products we offer, we also write a blog, and share some tips, thoughts, and insight on our Instagram account (@brightonfrog).
MT: How do you choose the products and brands that are available on your website?
NF: Every product and brand that is featured in the FRoG shop was tested by us (we are a family of 4 with 2 young kids), and deemed useful, practical, ethical, affordable, etc. When we are researching brands and new products there are 3 main requirements: Ethical; Functional; Kind to the Earth.
MT: How do businesses like FRoG can do to help us to reduce plastic use?
NF: There are real people behind these small businesses with real knowledge that is based on real experiences. Putting together a catalog of a great variety of products together is one part of our ‘job’.
The other is to share the knowledge, the experience, the big achievements, and the epic failures too. And to always provide support, because it is very hard to lower impact, and cut down plastic in the ‘plastic world’!
MT: What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining a zero-waste lifestyle?
NF: Don’t try to do everything straight away! Aim for small, sustainable changes that are more likely to stick with you longer. Allow yourself to adapt.
Don’t try to change and swap everything all at once! Throwing out a big bunch of stuff that is still useful, just because it doesn’t look that cool or it’s made of plastic, is counterproductive.
No need for fancy kit! It is a lifestyle change, not an upgrade of your gear.
Always be kind and gentle with yourself! It is very hard, and some days are bound to be even harder. Try to look at every plastic-free or low-waste failure as something to learn from, and don’t dwell on them or make yourself feel bad about them. Just learn and improve!
MT: How are social media (and e-commerce) important to the success of your business?
NF: Very important. At this point, most of our advertisement is through social media platforms (mainly Instagram). So, without it, most people wouldn’t even know that we existed.
MT: What are the next steps for FRoG?
NF: We have a lot of plans, smaller and bigger ones, from expanding our product range to even having a physical store sometime.
As it is, for now, James is in a full-time position in a restaurant, and I’m running around two small kids, so we are taking small steps. We’d like to be in this for a long time, and build something sustainable and strong, so we don’t want to rush anything.
Having said that, it’s worth keeping checking back on us because there are always new bits lingering around the FRoG shop!
FRoG on Social Media