Founder: Edward Davies (Geography BSc, 2016)
Business start date: October, 2017
Number of employees: 2
What does your Business do?
Wearth is an online marketplace which partners with independent UK brands who make high quality contemporary products in an eco-friendly and ethical way. Our mission is to make it easier for people to shop in a more conscious way which reduces their impact on our planet, whilst creating a new place online for our brands to reach a larger audience and grow. In terms of our business model, we are platform whereby our brands deliver directly to the customer and we take a commission for each sale. This way we do not need a large distribution centre keeping our emissions and costs down, whilst allowing us to sell a wide range of products, making it easy for customers to find what they are looking for under one website.
We have a range of product categories with each of our department having their own unique characteristics. Our natural beauty department is full of products which have only skin-friendly ingredients, they are handmade in the UK and have glass or metal packaging, instead of plastic. All our jewellery is also made in the UK and the designers that we work with use recycled silver, this reduces the demand for newly mined silver which can have a significant impact on the environment.
For our homewares and furniture departments we have partnered with small UK brands who make stylish products whilst using either sustainably sourced materials or reclaimed materials, for instance we have a range of furniture which is made from recycled wood. We also have a lifestyle department which includes products which help to reduce your waste from day to day as well as a gifts department and it was great to see at Christmas lots of people purchasing gifts.
Our platform is really centred around product discovery and transparency. A good example of this is our shop by values page where our users can shop by certain characteristics. So, for example, if they want to shop completely plastic-free or products only made in the UK, they can do this using this feature.
What made you decide to start up your own business?
After graduating from Durham I did a Real Estate Masters at Cass Business School in London. I always had planned on having a career in property, however my plans started to change. This began during my final year at Durham where I was President of Enactus Durham, overseeing two international social enterprises. I found this experience really rewarding and with a small amount of money we were able to have a positive impact on the people we were trying to help. This also helped to develop my entrepreneurial skills so I became increasingly open to starting my own business, especially one which benefits the planet.
With Wearth as well, we really saw a great opportunity to start a successful business which aligned with this. The retail industry in so many ways is damaging our environment and consumers are increasingly becoming conscious of what they are purchasing. However, in our busy lives it is not easy to be able to research and find brands which are more conscious. This is where we really see the value of Wearth to our customers as we take away this time consuming process.
What impact have you achieved to date?
We launched at the end of October 2017 and have achieved a lot so far. We have built a modern easy to use website and have partnered with over 50 great brands. We’re proud to be able to support British makers and 80% of our products are made here in the UK. We have been very active on social media with a growing following of over 10,000 followers.
In our first year we have had over £34,000 of sales and we had a record month of the year with £9,000 sales in October so we are starting to see exponential growth each month. We now look to build on this early sales traction by investing more into marketing and gaining investment in 2019 will be key if we are continue to grow.
It is nice to also see that we have got some recognition for Wearth including getting a Good Brand Award with Sublime Magazine and being shortlisted for Most Innovative Ethical Brand with Veggie Magazine. We also won City University’s green start-up competition, Green Spark.
Alongside the sales and recognition, we have also started a blog on our site, this all centred around providing lifestyle blogs on how to live and shop in a more sustainable way. For example, we have an ethical gift guide which highlights some of our best-selling eco gifts as well as a range of blogs with tips on how to reduce the amount of plastic you consume.
What challenges have you overcome along the way?
Creating Wearth with a small team has definitely been a big challenge. There are two co-founders, myself and Imogen. When we first launched, Imogen was finishing Fashion Marketing graduate from Manchester University so we have had to work remotely and work around her schedule. We overcome this by ensuring we’re organised and plan ahead whilst having the flexibility to adapt when necessary.
The first major challenge we had was getting traffic to our site when we launched. At the time we had a limited marketing budget and we obviously were a new entity. We overcame this really through working hard on our social media, especially by creating high quality content and working with influencers who supported our mission to make it easier for people to shop more consciously.
What is your key tip for Durham University students and graduates currently in the process of setting up a business?
I would say a combination of being committed and patient. We started working on Wearth around a year ago and we still recognise that we have a long way to go. Especially being a digital startup, even if you are working hard day in day out it can take up to a year if not longer to really establish the business. However, if you really believe in what you are doing and are ambitious, there is nothing stopping you from being successful.