I have been working with eco-brands for quite a while now, and I guess you come back here for more because of their core and ethos. But I truly believe that each one of them has an eye-catching story that makes all difference when we choose them to start our journey on eco-living, right?
This is the case for Jungle Culture – a UK brand that creates earth-friendly and functional goods crafted made by people in rural Vietnam to reach the restaurants, shops, independent brands, and you – who are reading this interview now.
As world travellers with a love for life, the guys from Jungle Culture are transfixed with saving the natural environment as well as connecting with cultures of far-flung communities. The result is an outstanding collection of organic products made from sustainable materials and innovatively crafted with leading British designers and Asian artisans.
We talked with the co-founder of Jungle Culture, Jamie Skinner, in this interview.
Midlands Traveller – Tell me a little bit about your background in business.
Jamie Skinner – There is nothing to tell! I graduated from university where I studied the Chinese language and my co-founder was an electrician when we decided to start Jungle Culture! Everything we have learned about business has been picked up along the way.
MT- How did you come up with the idea of a business like yours?
JK– We became aware of the problem of waste like many other people through the media. At the time my co-founder Chris was travelling in Vietnam and told me that local restaurants were using bamboo shoots as straws. We decided to try to bring bamboo straws to consumers in the UK and from there we expanded into a range of eco-friendly products!
MT- Why choose to work with eco-friendly products?
JK – Whatever we do, we want it to have a positive impact on the world and the environment. We do not just sell plastic alternatives; we also sell handicrafts made in impoverished villages and products that encourage a healthy lifestyle.
MT- Tell me about Jungle Culture’s mission?
JK- Our mission is ultimately to help people make sustainable, waste-free, and healthy adjustments to their lives. We want to help people use less plastic, eat fresher, healthier food, and feel more balanced.
MT- What is unique about your business?
JK- We do things the long and hard way. Most businesses in the age of the internet jump online and find a factory that can make their products quickly and cheaply. They never look behind the curtain and see how manufacturing really works.
Jungle Culture started in Vietnam and we visit all our suppliers regularly. We know them, we know their families and we know all their workers. We spent years building up a network of trusted suppliers and we only work with farmers, factories, and workshops that we can depend on to make ethical choices.
MT- What is your kind of clientele?
JK – It ranges! We work with food trucks, small shops, and restaurants and we have also worked with huge global brands like Nat Geo, TOMS, and Penguin Randomhouse.
MT- What are the challenges of a business like yours?
JK – Our biggest challenge is also our biggest strength. Our customers like that we work with small producers and rural farms, but it’s also a lot more difficult to organise and arrange international shipments with farmers who have never exported before.
MT- In which ways is your business helping people to join a more sustainable lifestyle?
JK – We offer our customers a chance to make small changes. It can be tough to introduce healthy habits into your day-to-day life, but maybe if you have a coconut bowl or a pack of bamboo straws in your kitchen, it might encourage you to make a smoothie in the mornings.
Likewise, if you have a nice metal razor or a reusable cutlery set that you’re excited to use, you might be excited to ditch your plastic versions!
MT- What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business like yours?
JK – Don’t be hit with paralysis by analysis. Stop thinking through every little detail and just go for it. You are never going to get everything absolutely right the first time anyway, so why bother spending so much time planning? The important thing is to get out there and start doing and everything else can be learned in the process!
MT- What are the next steps to Jungle Culture?
JK – We want to find more interesting, sustainable products, made by passionate people. The pandemic has created some big challenges and sadly we are not able to visit new suppliers at the moment, so our plans are on hold, but we’re hoping to get back out into the world later this year and find some incredible producers.
Jungle Culture On Social Media