Sat, 08 Aug 2020

Tina Beyer, an IT professional, left Kerala, India after marrying a South African engineer. Adjusting to a new country brought its own challenges - one of them being employment. Finding it difficult to get a job, she turned lemons into lemonade and followed her passion. She started selling eco-friendly alternatives to plastic.

What are these zero-waste alternatives, you might ask?

They range from reusable sandwich wraps made of beeswax and bowl covers made of fabric - as opposed to clingwrap plastic and foil. Other alternatives to plastic include stainless steel lunch boxes known as tiffins, glass and stainless-steel straws, bamboo toothbrushes, and even reusable sanitary pads made of bamboo or hemp and menstrual cups, to name a few.

In a telephonic interview with Fin24, Beyer recalled that she was at a party in 2017 when she first saw a steel straw. It was this moment that catapulted her into the business world.

"We went to a friend's house and we had some people there. One of our friend's showed us this steel straw and she was asking my husband if he can make it," Beyer said. "I was quite interested in the steel straw ... so that was in the back of my head," Beyer said.

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But soon after reaching out to suppliers, she found that the wholesale prices were pegged at the retail prices she wanted to sell at. Getting items sourced locally was also a challenge. Beyer said that if she sent enquiries to suppliers in China, she would get responses within an hour - a stark difference to her experience trying to find suppliers locally.

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When it comes to finding product ideas, Beyer said she thinks of the basic things she uses in day-to-day life. "Mostly, I want to encourage people to do this lifestyle rather than to sell my products," she said.

Apart from operating an online store, she also participates in some markets in and around Cape Town. Some of the products are also stocked in stores in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

When asked about her future hopes for the business, Beyer said she wants to do more for communities - particularly more upliftment projects for women.

"I am a Christian. I just pray before I do anything. And wherever God leads me, I do it."

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