By Harry Isenstein- START UP Series #3
Have you ever thought about the connection between your flip-flops and the environment? We interviewed Mick Armstrong, Head of the Herd at SeaPigs on how they’re helping our planet, and how he needs your help to do so.
1. Firstly, tell us all about SeaPigs!
The ‘Tail’ of Pig Island: A family of pigs were shipwrecked on an uninhabited island in the Bahamas. The clever pigs learned to mould and adapt to their environment. The fun and clever SeaPigs swim in the ocean and live on the beach, and it’s now become known as Pig Island.
Our brand is inspired by the tale of Pig Island. We see this tale as a beautiful example of nature and a story that embodies our light-hearted take on the more serious issue of humanity’s effect on our Planet.
Our first product: SeaPigs Drifters — not flip flops — designed to love your feet and our planet. The 14 billion feet on our planet are as individual as our faces. We believe your footwear should be too.
SeaPigs Drifters mould and adapt to your individual foot and are anatomically designed to love your feet and promote good health and well-being — you can enjoy wearing SeaPigs Drifters for longer, whilst looking as good as you feel.
SeaPigs promise: If We Make It — We Take It Back.
During our research, we discovered a major problem. Brands do not take responsibility for their products after use. SeaPigs will. Our products are designed to be sent back to SeaPigs, we will disassemble the products and repurpose them into new SeaPigs products. SeaPigs guarantee to recycle your old SeaPigs products free of charge and give you £10 off your next purchase for sending them back to us.
2. Where do you see SeaPigs in 5 years?
In 5 years time, we will have turned our first product into another one– the SeaPigs Drifters will be collected back after use and SeaPigs will disassemble them and make them into a new product. The design has already started on what the SeaPigs Drifters will become. We pinky promise to tell you more and we are excited to enter the circular economy, which we believe is the future.
3. How can people get involved in the SeaPigs community?
SeaPigs is about finding out what people want and listening to their advice or as we like to say; You Speak — We Listen. We have had advice off thousands of members of the Herd so far, so if you want to join the Herd then subscribe to our website or join us on social media. (Links posted below)
4. When did you first have the idea?
I had the idea in 2015 before studying my Masters at Newcastle University. My thesis was all part of the research for SeaPigs. The topic was based around prosocial branding and the quote from my work is below;
Prosocial Brand Definition: “A brand that within its core promotes positive helpful human behaviour, doing the right thing for the planet, society, customers and stakeholders; while making a profit.”
Whilst studying a masters as a mature student, at Newcastle University, I was inspired by the Business School philosophy ‘Challenge Today, Change Tomorrow’.
My personal goal: To prove there is a fairer way to do business that balances the needs of the people, the organisation and the planet.
5. How has START UP helped over the years?
START UP has been critical in our progression as a brand and they have offered support, guidance, expertise and asked us lots of difficult questions. We have been lucky to work with Stephen Bowden and Jackie Wade who have offered us honest advice and asked challenging questions. We owe a huge amount to the START UP team. We were very lucky to be involved in a Dragons Den style pitch for University funding and were successful. Gaining additional funding to support our Kickstarter campaign, launching on Wednesday 9 am 27th February 2019.
6. What was the biggest setback and how did you overcome it?
Halfway through the development, we realised that there was a gap in the market for a flip flop without a toe strap, 12% of the people we surveyed hated anything in between their toes. We were always making footwear that supported the feet, but then we had to make flip flops without the toe strap. We are so happy we took the difficult route and not the easy one. The outcome is amazing and the SeaPigs Drifters are in a class of their own.
7. Why did you choose to launch your own venture instead of employment?
I’m not employable — so no option. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 20 years. I hate calling myself an Entrepreneur, but I suppose I am. I have been involved in a number of start-ups from London cocktail bars, recruitment, global property business, charity and even a pro rugby player for a couple of years while I travelled.
8. Best advice for future entrepreneurs?
Just do it and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. You have to learn to fail before you can learn to succeed.
9. What’s your favourite thing about Newcastle?
The people, the coastline and the nightlife.
SeaPigs are having a launch party on Sunday 24th February, with a Kickstarter campaign on Wednesday 27th February at 9 am. More info on their website!
Have you got an idea you think might have some potential? Pop down to King’s Gate today to speak to one of our advisers to see how we can help you get started, just like Mick once did.