Corona going viral...
Welcome to the captivating journey of SmoothEdge, the upcycled glassware company that transformed from a simple hobby into a thriving business. In this instalment of our series, we dive into the beginning of 2020, when co-founders Sam and Leah returned from their travels just as the world was struck by the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 2020 marked a critical turning point for Sam and Leah. Despite narrowly avoiding the impact of COVID-19 on their travels to New Zealand and Bali, they returned home to a changed world. SmoothEdge had received a handful of orders post-Christmas, but nothing too overwhelming for their "bottling elf", Janey, who had kindly stepped in while Sam and Leah were away.
However, as fate would have it, Sam's plans to pursue a career as a sports physio were thwarted by the nationwide lockdown imposed in the UK. Forced to adapt to the circumstances, they braced themselves for the challenges ahead, ready to face the rough with the smooth (edge).
With the sudden onset of the pandemic, SmoothEdge's potential was staring to be seen. As people across the country found themselves confined to their homes, their reliance on mobiles soared. Simultaneously, the rise of platforms like Etsy presented a tremendous opportunity. In April 2020, without much effort, SmoothEdge experienced an unprecedented surge in demand. The upcycled "Corona" glasses became the go-to gift, enabling people to send gifts to friends and family during lockdown. The Corona glasses were going viral!
Buoyed by this surge in sales, Sam and Leah became even more determined to forge ahead with SmoothEdge. As they continued to navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19, Sam and Leah delved deeper into the intricacies of running an online business. They dedicated themselves to mastering the art of Etsy and improving their understanding of search engine optimization (SEO). However, making the glasses over and over again became a "bin there, done that" kind of feeling. These seemingly monotonous tasks played a pivotal role in the growth of SmoothEdge, given that the team had no prior marketing experience. The process itself helped iron out the kinks and smoothen the operations.
As they continued working more on SmoothEdge, they learnt more and more about the importance of upcycling, the glass waste industry, the circular economy and recycling rates - they were shocked! They learnt up to 50% of the U.K's glass bottles end up in landfills, and world wide the equivalent of the empire state building worth of waste glass bottles and jars every three weeks! They found out this is because the sorting process isn't efficient enough, theres a lot of contamination and not much money in waste glass to improve the system. We started working hard on how SmoothEdge can improve these stats, the circular waste economy and set this as our longterm mission.
As the world oscillated between periods of lockdown and tentative freedom, SmoothEdge continued to thrive. Orders continued throughout the year, providing a sense of stability and purpose to the team. Even as 2021 dawned, with its share of uncertainties and intermittent lockdowns, the momentum persisted. In October 2021, Sam then made a life-changing decision. He put his part-time sports physio career on hold and resigned from his full-time job at a local surf warehouse. Sam recognised that SmoothEdge would demand his undivided attention during the bustling Christmas season, and he longed to pursue a venture where hard work and effort translated into tangible results, while being able to have freedom and not being confined to a 9-5 job. His intuition proved correct as SmoothEdge enjoyed another successful year, bolstering the team's confidence and fostering an optimistic outlook for the upcoming year, 2022.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in our series, where we explore the not to smooth process of 2022 and what the future holds.