Starting a business as a pioneer in your sector
Be the first to start a business in your sector can lead to unexpected consequences… Rebecca Maroko, co-founder of Ouni, shares her experience:
- interest from the press
- finding a space
- educating the general public
- measuring your impact
Rebecca Maroko is the co-founder of Ouni, the first zero-waste local shop in Luxembourg. Discover more about their values and their products on http://ouni.lu.
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Transcription de l'intervention de Rebecca Maroko
Interest from the press
Journalists were interested in what we had to say, the population was interested, because it was a much anticipated project. People really wanted to see this grocery store in existence. They were amazed it was possible! I guess you could say we’re still a bit stunned by all the requests we’ve had from journalists for articles, interviews and videos, but also for awareness-raising in classes and companies.
Finding a space
Finding a space was tough because there was a group of active members who wanted to look for a space but no one had any experience managing a grocery store. So we were gathering information, imagining the different criteria we needed, the size… calculating ratios and rates: revenue per square meter, how many products per square meter, etc. In the end, it took us from February to September to find it, or April to September. From when we raised funds, it must have been around April to when we signed the lease in September to open in December. After a year of operations we started saying: “Yeah, it would have been good to think about this or that…” for the space to be on a single level, so we wouldn’t always have to go up and down to get merchandise. It would have been a good idea to make sure the air conditioning was working, new or working better. Things like that. We hadn’t really gotten the right information… If we could give entrepreneurs a piece of advice, don’t be shy to go check out stores that are similar to your business. Had we gone to see other bulk stores and asked them our questions I think we would have chosen a better space.
Educating the general public
For people to get all their groceries at Ouni took time. It took the time it takes to change habits and we realized that… customers needed support and a loyal clientele is something you build little by little. We’re very pleased with the outcome.
Measuring your impact
What we’ve put in place so far is waste management and measurements of our own waste. For one, measuring the waste, and for two, talking with suppliers to help reduce it so we can attain zero waste. For over a year now, chocolates from our local supplier Tricentenaire, Les Chocolats Du cœur, have been delivered in consigned boxes. For their chocolate, we have literally zero waste for the consumer and for us.