It’s time to move from commitments to action says Mr Stroodles
Ahead of The Retail Conference next week, we catch up with Maxim (aka Mr Stroodles), the founder of eco brand Stroodles.
Stroodles, famous for its pasta straws, are on a mission to offer uncompromising solutions to the everyday consumer and businesses around sustainability, but with a twist of fun. The vegan and biodegradable range also includes edible cups, spoons and bowls.
Interview with Maxim Gelmann: Founder & Chief at Stroodles
What led you to setting up the business?
I was in the corporate world but really, I wanted to do something (as cliché as it sounds) with more impact. I’m not an ‘eco-warrior’ but there was a consciousness around the whole topic of sustainability. The idea of a pasta straw was really simple and managed to even inspire myself to make small easy changes. Hence I was impressed and wanted to show the world and so that is where the business started back in 2018.
The company’s mission is to show how easy it is to do good, ‘one Stroodle product at a time’. Our aim has always been to facilitate sustainable action for the masses and put a smile on people’s faces too. It’s a fun set of products which hopefully, is a gateway for change. The products are innovative and quirky – it creates a talking point.
Do small changes really make a difference?
Everyone is aware of the plastic problems that we have but honestly, they just don’t know where to start. Change is also associated with compromise and often, people don’t really like to compromise. And then, there is this “all or nothing” thinking that we have when it comes to doing good. One of the reasons I set up the business was to challenge and change this way of thinking.
With our products, we want to make it easy to make a difference. Small changes do matter and they should be celebrated. Behaviour change takes years but through Stroodles, we are creating a touch-point, a consciousness. We are planting a seed. Now is the time to move from commitments to action.
What opportunities do you see in retail right now?
Before the economic crunch, sustainability was a luxury. Now, it’s something that consumers can see in their pocket. Sustainability is now economically interesting and it’s becoming a trend because we are being personally affected. This will drive change. And, with change comes opportunity. Retailers will be looking at products that will appeal to consumers at this level.
Businesses are in a state of flux. With climbing energy bills and the constant uncertainty, retailers are needing to adapt. Being a start-up means you can move quickly whereas legacy businesses (generally) take ages to change. This was apparent during Covid of course where small businesses were able to quickly setup delivery options and benefit from ecommerce.
There are large corporates who are embracing the ‘start up’ culture. There are plenty examples of large businesses that are fast moving – Tesla for example. You’re seeing established businesses introducing incubator teams for example. They are working to embed the start-up mindset internally.
What role do businesses play in this space?
So many businesses are adopting and rolling out ESG policies but how much do employees really take notice of that? Sure, it’s great for shareholder value but actually, can we help businesses to inspire their people? To me, this is more powerful than initiatives that they are doing behind the scenes. We want to help employers create a sustainable culture beyond the tick box exercise.
What will you be sharing at TRC22?
We all have a part to play in supporting sustainability, but business owners in particular have a huge influence. At The Retail Conference next week, I will be speaking about ways to easily implement sustainability into company culture and the importance of employers to inspire sustainable behaviours.
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