Last year, Glasgow saw the opening of a brand new Zero Waste Shop in its Mount Florida neighbourhood: The Good Choice. Who would’ve thought that this meaningful store, would be set up and led by Pilar, from Mexico City…
Pilar: ‘I am originally from Mexico city, I worked in an oil and gas and was transferred to London in 2012. I meet my now husband and moved to Scotland in 2015 to study a double master in Project Management and and MBA in Glasgow, where I meet my business partners. My husband and I got married at the end of 2017 and decided to settled for good in Stirling.’
MexiBrit: How did you came up with the idea of setting up The Good Choice
Pilar: ‘I have always been interested in the environmental issues and my MBA dissertation was on circular economy and social enterprising. At home we’ve been in this Zero Waste journey for few years now, and found it very difficult to achieve due to the lack of options in the urban areas in the UK. I found inspiration on the way ‘we used to shop’ at home back in Mexico, where my mom would buy everything in bulk and fresh!. So while working on my dissertation, I discovered all this ‘zero waste shop’ movement across Europe and recently in London, and that is where I finally decided that was the business I wanted to set up and bring more sustainable, packaged-free, low impact products closer to the people. Because I had a full time job, I ran the idea through my friends and they loved the idea and jumped on board on setting the business.’
MexiBrit: Was it hard to set up a business in the UK, did you get much help from any organisations?
Pilar: ‘We worked on the business plan for about 8 months and most of it during the lockdown, a couple of my MBA friends helped us to screen the business plan and put us in contact with the right people in the real state and an accountant; we reached out to different institutions but all grants were stopped due to Covid-19. Fortunately, RBS back her business program was still running; “Back her business” is a program where RBS will put up to 50% of a Crowdfunder target (up to a max of 5,000 GBP). See : https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/thegoodchoice-zerowaste
We did crowdfund about 12,224 GBP and the rest of the initial investment was covered by personal savings. RBS backing was a great boost to our fundraising campaign. unfortunately to date there’s no support or grants available for small businesses. We did a lot fit out ourselves and we got also help from friends to meet the opening date deadline, that helped us to save costs!’
MexiBrit: How have the locals welcomed The Good Choice in the area?
Pilar: ‘There were a lot of hype among the Mount Florida community due to the crowdfunder, in fact many of our supporters live in the area and they were excited to take part of, there is a true sense of community and we have customers across all age brackets, we have new customers coming every week and we hope to extend our market reach in 2021′
MexiBrit: What have been the challenges during the pandemic? How are you working around it to adapt to the current reality?
Pilar: ‘We watched how other zero waste shops adapted during the first lockdown and we took lessons learnt from them. We designed the lay-out of the shop to allow for people distancing, we added a sink for people to clean hands if necessary and have adopted sanitising regimes for ourselves and the customers. We have to limit the number of people to 2 at the moment to prevent crowding, and we are offering click and collect services (which we did not plan at the beginning). At the moment, we are one of the few businesses opened in the area so people like to come in have a wee shop and a bit of a chat; for some, coming to the shop is the ‘outing’ of the day, so it is comforting people still comes to us.’
MexiBrit: What are your future plans and your dreams going forward?
Pilar: ‘Short term is to get more products so people have to make fewer trips to the supermarket, we have all the essentials covered but we will be extending the range to add more skin care, sauces, and more products!. I wanted to add more mexican/ latin american products as there is a huge Mexican community in Glasgow that I have discovered through the shop! I hope I can make more connections with other Mexican retailers only condition is packaging must meet one of the R’s ( reusable, reduced, recyclable, rot -compostable-)
1 year Plus, I want to open a second shop! None of us have run a business before and we are learning a lot from web design to social media marketing.’
Visit The Good Choice Website here, follow them here. Visit their MexiBrit profile here.