BuyMeOnce: Sustainable retail startup launches crowdfunding campaign in bid to grow buy-for-life ‘movement’

·3 min read
 (BuyMeOnce)
(BuyMeOnce)

A female-founded, London-based sustainable retail startup has launched a £500,000 crowdfunding campaign in a bid to grow its buy-for-life "movement".

BuyMeOnce.com rates and sells durable products that come with a lifetime guarantee.

Its founder, north Londoner Tara Button, launched the business aged 31 in 2016 on a mission to reduce consumer waste and help the planet by bringing back the mostly-lost trend of buying household items for life, and even to pass on to your children.

The startup has recorded record revenues since the pandemic hit, with the sales growth fuelled by city-dwelling millennials and Gen Z-ers in the 25-40 age bracket.

The company has seen revenues grow by over 300% in the year, from £158,000 in 2019/20 to £680,000 in 2020/21. Annual customer numbers tripled from 2,112 to 6,002, while returning customers increased by 465%, the startup said.

BuyMeOnce expects turn a profit for the first time in the next financial year.

Tara Button’s moment of inspiration came when she received a Le Creuset pot as a 30th birthday gift - the century-old cookware brand is known for offering lifetime guarantees on its products (BuyMeOnce)
Tara Button’s moment of inspiration came when she received a Le Creuset pot as a 30th birthday gift - the century-old cookware brand is known for offering lifetime guarantees on its products (BuyMeOnce)

Button puts the growth in younger customers down to the fact that lockdown gave many "the time to really assess the consumer choices they are making" - plus the fact that the younger demographic "are extremely discerning about the provenance of products and the impact they have on the environment".

Button, who released a book in 2018 called A Life Less Throwaway: The Lost Art of Buying for Life, told the Standard: "I think lockdown forced us into thinking about things on a global scale and into thinking about crises. And very clearly climate change is the next big problem for the world to face.

“It will be much worse than Covid, and long-lasting products is one of the most overlooked solutions to climate change. The focus has been on recycling, but we just need to keep the things we have for longer."

Lockdown saw many online-focused firms boom, from food delivery giants to plant retailers. Many millennials had the chance to save for the first time, and are comfortable shopping online.

There has also been a wider consumer shift towards sustainable, ethical fashion, household and personal care products in recent years, and investors are increasingly demanding companies show genuine commitment to ESG (environmental, social, and governance) criteria.

BuyMeOnce has raised nearly £800,000 to date, including over £545,000 in an initial crowdfunding round in 2019. The first crowdfund involved more than 400 retail investors, and backing from climate change investor, Green Angel Syndicate.

The startup has used its newfound revenues to transition from a drop-shipping and affiliate marketing model to a wholesale operation, and Button plans to use new crowdfunded cash to fuel further growth.

Funds would be put towards building the team, increasing targeted digital marketing, and the launch of a gift registry service on the site.

"We are more than just a shop, we're a movement," she said. "Having people literally invested in your company is really powerful. We like the idea of being owned by a lot of people, and we want to know that people are in it for the right reasons."

Going forward the startup will also look to partner with manufacturers and begin building exclusive, sustainably-made products with a "circular economy design".

"We want to scale out something really innovative," the founder said. "How can we make this product as useful for as long as possible? It is not just thinking about how long a product lasts, but what happens ti it afterwards."

Button said she wants to build on the current momentum and take her startup to the next level.

She said: "It's now really clear that in order to have the power we want to have, we need to become a household name, because that's the only way we can have an impact.

"What we're trying to do is for everyone."

The Crowdfund is open for pre-registration here

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