She started with a little stall of refills in a shop twice a day in a shopping centre and met customers who quickly became advocates of a zero waste and sustainable lifestyle, and who were keen to take part in helping the shop to scale up.
After 6 months, the first gathering of people interested in creating a not-for-profit and community zero waste shop happened - a team of founders formed, and a few months later, a community share offer ended successfully, allowing her to open a brick and mortar shop.
Many volunteers helped to set up, do shifts, do administrative tasks, and Filling Good is now in the High Street of Maidenhead, open 6 days a week, and a 'go to' place for local residents who want to lead a sustainable lifestyle, offering a large range of refills, sustainable and ethical alternatives for regular grocery items, and more.
As Nelly says, the unique community feeling brought by the volunteers will conquer you!
Before starting, we did a market study and there was a long period of community engagement.
We made a share offer which was a success and found a real interest from numerous volunteers. I would definitely recommend a share offer with a high minimum value of investment - share offers do work and allow you to create a community of people who will be your advocates, help with word of mouth, etc. Filling Good is still alive in Feb 2022 - the share offer started in Jan 2021.
I think the most important part is that we are genuinely very engaged in the environment and also engaged in local political matters. People and volunteers like to meet people who think likewise and the community aspect is really important. Numerous friendships have been formed despite the unfavourable context of the pandemic.
Our customers and volunteers are extremely nice, so we bring a unique shopping experience on many levels - the way of shopping, the relationship with the customers and volunteers, a place where people know you.
The challenge for us has been to grow and reach a sustainable size. As a community initiative we don't really receive any support from the council. As a benefit community society though, we received a business rates relief, which has been instrumental in surviving our first year.
Beware! The business model for a zero waste / refill shop is not a highly profitable one. So if you choose this way, going not-for-profit and community-led is definitely the way to make it work - even like this, it is financially challenging to make work.