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Future Focus: Meet Maddie Booth

Creating systemic change in entrepreneurship is a mission that will see important short-term change, but the deepest impact will be felt by future generations who have access to radically new opportunities and possibilities. Green practices not only support the environment and the community but will also ensure that your brands and businesses flourish. In the Future Focus section of our blog, we will keep you updated on all things sustainability — our journey, founder stories, and useful, informative and actionable advice to address the needs of People, Planet and Profit. Stay tuned!

Maddie started a sustainable skincare business focusing on creating value from waste, for your skin.

We recently spoke with Maddie about her journey setting up Scrubee, the rapid changes happening in the sustainability space, and the journey so far and where she is headed!

Can you introduce Scrubbee?

“Coffee, beer and wine: three of the most popular beverages in the UK with over 467 billion litres consumed year on year. But, what if drinking them is only one of their uses? What if they can unlock the possibility of creating a circular economy within cosmetics?

The current skincare industry is completely unsustainable, relying on single-use plastics and excessive use of harmful chemicals.”

Scrubbee is a sustainable skincare business focusing on creating value from waste, for your skin. We repurpose byproducts from a variety of levels within the beverage supply chain and upcycle them into affordable, effective cosmetics.

What motivated you to start Scrubbee/sustainability business?

“My skin started breaking out and for the first time, I was faced with tackling acne, shaking my self-confidence. I tried every single product out there that promised to ‘fix’ my skin but they were either too costly or ineffective. I also found that in one of my favourite products, a high street serum, there were over 1.45 billion polyethylene particles, one of the most damaging microplastics.”

Studying Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick clearly showed that current business models out there were not fit for a sustainable future. As many students do, she ended up working at a coffee shop to support herself. Whilst at work she noticed the sheer amount of coffee grounds going to waste, 10’s of kilograms every single day. If this was going to waste here, how much is going to waste from coffee shops all over the country?

“I was faced with a triple dilemma: Student budget + Studying sustainability + My skin constantly breaking out = the need for affordable, sustainable and effective skincare products. I couldn’t find any, so I decided to make my own! “

Does your business idea address any of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development goals and how green are your products?

Our products are :

  1. Vegan
  2. Cruelty-free
  3. 100% natural
  4. Paraben free
  5. Microplastic and plastic free
  6. Over 55% of upcycled material
  7. Locally produced and manufactured in Birmingham
  8. All suppliers are UK based
  9. Waterless — no need for harmful chemicals

How do you keep yourself up to date with the rapid changes happening in the sustainability space?

I subscribe to monthly newsletters from Sustainability West Midlands, Mckinsey and Edie, these are really useful to keep up to date on current practices and events.

What are some of the traps entrepreneurs looking to move into this market be aware of and how are you tackling them?

It is really hard to be authentic in this space with so many companies now moving into it and claiming sustainability credentials. The most important thing when trying to make your company sustainable is educating yourself and your team, knowing what you’re speaking about is essential for moving forward and will avoid you making mistakes like green-washing, which is common and mostly stems from naivety.

We assess all areas of our supply chain and product development constantly, looking at new ways to improve. We measure our carbon footprint every 6 months and analyse where hotspots of carbon activity are and make a plan to reduce these areas. As a zero-waste company, we are constantly checking any waste we have and finding innovative solutions of how to reduce or repurpose it by partnering with other companies.

What is the biggest risk to your company?

Finding the right balance of growth that is sustainable in all forms. It is tricky to find the right balance for a company that has sustainability at its core but also is selling a consumable product. We have never felt like we have fitted well into advertising or marketing models that are typical of the cosmetics industry, pushing over-consumption so for us the biggest risk is finding the correct way for us as a company to be profitable whilst also not pushing our customers to over-consume.

One of the ways we mitigate this risk is because we utilise by-products and work in the circular economy, we don’t pay for the waste material we give new lease of life to. This means that we are able to keep our profit margins quite stable and at a good level to allow us to trade profitably.

How do you engage your supply chain in your sustainability efforts?

We work very closely with our supply chain partners who are all based in the UK. Especially the coffee shops that are based in Birmingham with us and not only engage with us on our coffee supply but also sell our products in-store. We aid our suppliers in their effort to become more sustainable by having open and honest communication about what efforts we are making and sharing best practices.

What has been Scrubbee’s journey so far and where are you headed?

We are proving that even consumables can take centre stage in addressing issues of circularity, saving over 3000 cups of coffee grounds from going to waste so far since launching 1 year ago. Since launch, we are now stocked in 12 stores all across the UK and selling on 8 online platforms and have been recognised on a national scale by IRX (e-commerce conference) for our circular business model. We are now supported by a variety of different partners all across the UK from the chamber of commerce to NatWest to Bec.

Our goals for this year are to release our new range focused around utilising by-products of wine and beer for cosmetics after successful competition of R&D, design and test new sustainable packaging to make our company wholly circular, and get into a flagship large retail store. Towards August time we will be looking to fundraise capital to make this happen — watch this space!

What would be the few gives/asks that you would like to share with the community?

Please share our message, as a small brand we really rely on our community to help us grow! Try our products, head to our website to follow us on social and interact with us — it would mean the world!

The Vine Community brings together a network of Changemakers ready to lead and transform our society by making innovation open to anyone, anywhere.

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