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PURPLE EARTH: Taking that small step

One third of all plastic comes from the supermarket sector. From there, it is often used once and then thrown away. Aware of the damage that this single use plastic inflicts on the planet, Julie McFarland of Whitehead, County Antrim, set out on a mission to help her community become more earth conscious.

Julie now had a vision and all she needed was some financial support. This is when Julie happened across Crowdfunder UK, but more specifically, the ‘Back Her Business’ programme. The programme was introduced by Crowdfunder UK to increase the number of female entrepreneurs in the UK and help women like Julie achieve their entrepreneurial goals.

Julies journey began with the realisation that a small step is all it takes to make a massive difference, Julie set out to bring a zero-waste store to her area, hoping to help her local community travel down the plastic free road. “I started doing pop up events at fairs to gauge the interest in the ‘zero waste’ movement in Northern Ireland. Thanks to the likes of BBC’s War on Plastic and Blue Planet, the public are more aware of the environmental and health issues we are facing with the amount of single use plastic and itsdisposal.”

After hearing the feedback from her pop-up events, Julie applied for the ‘Back Her Business’ programme and set up her first Crowdfunder campaign toestablish Purple Earth as a community based food refill shop!

“The Back Her Business programme has helped me to see the real support for my venture and I was overwhelmed with all the pledges, which ranged from £3 to £500, mostly from complete strangers – but who will, all being well, become regular customers and familiar faces.”

Julie raised £4,310 from 103 supporters in just 28 days, while alsoreceiving an extra funding grant of £1,250 from Ulster Bank, making her dream of bringing a zero waste shop to her community areality.

“CrowdfundingwasscaryatthestartasItookariskwithanallornothingcampaign.However, as the pledges started to come in, it got exciting. You have to work tirelessly throughout your campaign, and it got a bit nail-biting towards the end, but it was well worthit.”

However, Julie advises potential entrepreneurs not to embark on crowdfunding without proper preparation.

“Don’t jump in – I had already spent a year researching my target customers, suppliers and ideas so when the Back Her Business campaign came along, I was prepared and knew where I was headed. Make sure and offer rewards for your donors and don’t forget to thank them all along the way.”

If you’re feeling inspired, don’t forget to check out the coaching, support, and grants on offer as part of the Back Her Business programme – https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/back-her-business.