…The facts are sobering. It’s said that about 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean and by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish. These ocean plastics leach toxic chemicals and gasses at an accelerated rate when subjected to heat, and these toxins travel through fish, eventually ending up on our dinner plate. BPA is just one of the hundreds of dangerous chemicals in plastics, and ultimately these toxic compounds find their way back into our food, water, and bodies. Plastic bags and containers have created a public health and environmental crisis that we must take immediate action to remedy. Stasher is driven to change our plastic habits and slow down the negative impact they have on people and the planet by offering consumers a better alternative.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kat Nouri, Founder and CEO of stasher. Kat is an immigrant from Iran, working mother, and innovative designer who invented the world’s first and only patented pinch-loc reusable platinum silicone storage bag you can cook, freeze, store, and throw in the dishwasher.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Kat! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thanks for having me here to tell my story! I’ve always sought to live a healthy lifestyle. My parents are a nutritionist and professional athlete and have instilled the importance of being conscious about what I put into my body and on my skin. From beauty products to detergent to the food I prepare I’m always looking at the ingredient panels. When I had my three kids and was preparing organic, nutrient-dense and clean foods for them I started to notice that every storage option out there was plastic. Storage containers and bags are kitchen must-haves for every parent, but all of the options on the market were made of plastic — which leaches toxic chemicals and gasses that increases when subjected to heat and ultimately finds their way back into our food, water, and bodies. There had to be a better way to store food that didn’t hurt our bodies and the earth! I am the Founder and CEO of a thirteen-year-old silicone housewares company called Modern-twist, so I knew that silicone was the ideal material to work with from a decade of experience designing with it. So I got started on a 3-year journey towards inventing stasher and after launching in 2016 was met with consumer and retailer excitement! Consumers were chomping at the bit for a better alternative to plastic!
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
By harnessing the power of our mission, Stasher’s Instagram following has grown to 124K, 315% year-over-year and 1,883% since December 2016 and can be directly tied to our Plastic Free Movement and pledge where we educate consumers about what they can do to live a plastic-free lifestyle. As our social media following has grown, our sales numbers have quadrupled. @stasherbag is now generating 3M impressions per month and 25% of annual website traffic. It is our most powerful tool for brand awareness, relationships, and overall business growth and I’m incredibly proud of the impact and results we’ve continued to have.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I think the most interesting part of my story since I started my first company Modern-twist then stasher is that I always wanted to have a business that scaled the awareness around plastic health and plastic waste. Stasher has replaced billions of plastic baggies since inception.
Many people think we are an overnight success, but we didn’t just happen by chance to be at the forefront of the plastic-free movement. It’s taken over a decade of dedication and hard work and the wave of awareness that we’ve sparked was no accident! From the start this mission has been my motivation, and as awareness around plastic water bottles and shopping bags has grown, it has lent itself to education around plastic baggie use and pollution. The timing was right, and when platforms like Facebook and Instagram became widespread they were the perfect vehicle to amplify our message. Powerful messaging and education is now our biggest strength as a brand and has led us to acquire a completely obsessed customer base that has elevated our goal of an environmental impact more than we ever dreamed of.
Our success enables us to support organizations on the research side like 5 Gyres, and groups like Surfrider Foundation that push for legislative protections for our environment while hosting amazing beach clean-up events. The most interesting part of this journey is that we didn’t start stasher because we wanted to just produce a product. It’s always been focused on providing a functional and well-designed product that helps to turn off the plastic pollution faucet. Thanks to a new generation of consumers that are optimistic and proactive about the future of our planet and vote for the environment with their dollars and influence on social media, the plastic-free movement has exploded!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I received my first order at my first company Modern-twist, it was from one of the top museums in the US. This is over a decade ago when I had a staff of one — me. You name it, I did it at that time. So, I accidentally shipped ten cases instead of ten units of each style. When the museum contacted me and I realized my mistake I decided to make lemons out of lemonade. I asked them if they could keep the inventory and if they didn’t sell it that I would gladly take it all back and that they only had to pay for what they sold! When they contacted me a week later, they had sold all their inventory and wanted more! They couldn’t believe it and neither could I! That same strong relationship exists with them to this day!
The lesson that I learned was that some mistakes are meant to happen. Don’t beat yourself up! If you’re honest and you own your actions in a transparent way, you’ll always be okay. We still laugh about that first mistake because it was a lot of inventory for me at the time! The buyers became some of my best friends throughout the years and that mistake gave us all the opportunity to trust our relationship! The other major lesson I learned was to let the professional warehouse staff handle shipping!
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
Instagram! There is a new story every day worth telling, and most of them occur in our direct messages. Even though our audience has kind-of exploded, we’ve stayed committed to answering every single direct message we receive. This way, we get to build real relationships with every person who might just want to say “hi,” and I think they appreciate knowing there’s a team of real people just like them trying to do better for the planet, here for them any time. They say things like, “I convinced my Mom to get stashers and now she’s OBSESSED!” or “I haven’t bought Ziplocs in over a year!” People are in our DMs every day telling us how stasher has changed their lives, and that part of it has truly changed ours as well. An honest connection with our brand is what keeps people coming back.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
- Connect to your why: — we aren’t just here to sell the product. Obviously we’re not mad about it, but the real reason we created stasher, and the real reason we want everyone to use them is to reduce single-use plastics and plastic pollution. This is a very important cause to millions of people and it’s definitely helped us make authentic connections.
- Lead with empathy: We knew right away that we didn’t want to bully people into reducing plastic, or shame anyone who uses it. That negativity and self-righteousness is SO not who we are. We’re keepin’ it real and we want to embrace the authentic journey toward sustainable living. It isn’t perfect — none of us are.
- Drive the lifestyle with user-generated content (UGC): This has been a big part of our strategy, and while we have built up our own resources, UGC will always be part of our content mix. Every UGC post is like the ultimate testimonial — showing why and how individuals use the product and what they love about it. When we can put our brand champions on a pedestal, that individual’s vouch for us speaks volumes.
- Partnerships + Giveaways: Teaming up with influencers and other brands in our realm in order to tap into new audiences has had a major impact on our growth. Pairing stasher with like-minded brands for giveaways shows prospective audiences that we’re here to have fun, and we like what they like. It also helps us engage in a thriving community of mission-driven, conscious businesses and non-profits that are making a difference.
- Be social! We respond to direct messages and comments on our posts, and we comment on other users posts and stories. Our audience wants to know that we’re real people, and we’re honestly just like them. We truly want to be their friends and that moves mountains.
- Customer Service: Being available to help our customers when they need us is huge. We do our best to take care of order issues, shipping problems, and everyday questions about how to use the product through direct message. We’re even helping them experiment when we don’t have all the answers. It’s a very open conversation and we try to be as transparent as possible.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Our Plastic-free movement is why we exist in the first place! The facts are sobering. It’s said that about 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean and by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish. These ocean plastics leach toxic chemicals and gasses at an accelerated rate when subjected to heat, and these toxins travel through fish, eventually ending up on our dinner plate. BPA is just one of the hundreds of dangerous chemicals in plastics, and ultimately these toxic compounds find their way back into our food, water, and bodies. Plastic bags and containers have created a public health and environmental crisis that we must take immediate action to remedy. Stasher is driven to change our plastic habits and slow down the negative impact they have on people and the planet by offering consumers a better alternative.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
I would love to have lunch with Howard Schultz. He’s an outspoken passionate human being who leads consciously and intentionally. He utilizes his platform to do good through business and exudes transparency and authenticity. I strive to be a business leader that utilizes profits for the good of our collective society and our environment! It should never be just about your bottom line. Coming up with innovative solutions to be profitable and to have impact is something that has to be built into the DNA of your company. Diversity and inclusion breed innovation. We strive to follow that same vision every day.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!