The ‘couple-preneurs’ – Julie Chen and Chris Forbes – are making toilet tissue cheeky again with their 100 per cent bamboo alternative, The Cheeky Panda. Here they update us on what they’ve been up to since the VOOM Impact Award.
They say you should never mix the personal with the professional, but that’s exactly what happy couple Julie Chen and Chris Forbes have done, pooling their considerable talents to create the Cheeky Panda.
The couple are the brains behind The Cheeky Panda – a brand new business making bamboo-based toilet tissue. Bamboo has lots of skin-friendly qualities: it is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, hypo allergic and super absorbent making it kind to bums as well as the environment. Chris and Julie have joined the growing ranks of couple-founded businesses to make their bamboo-based dream a reality.
Since their launch in January 2016 The Cheeky Panda has been shortlisted for several awards:
- Essex Business Excellence award for innovation
- Green Awards for fast track company of the year and entrepreneurs of the year
- The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards for the Duke of York’s new entrepreneurs of the year
- And, of course, the VOOM Impact Award
As well as being shortlisted for these awards, the brand has also been recognised as the only tissue to be 100 per cent FSC certified, which means that 100 per cent of its tissue is sourced from sustainable forestry. The other brands all have a mixed product, meaning a percentage of the tissue is from sustainable forests and the rest is from unsustainable sources.
As well as attending the VOOM live final in June, Julie and Chris also attended their first consumer show at Olympia in the same month and were overwhelmed by the popular response to the product where they had over 800 people sign up for the product.
Since then, the product has arrived and is available to purchase online at Amazon, ethicalsuperstore and on their website, thecheekypanda. The company is in detailed conversations with several retailers, while several FTSE 250 businesses are in discussion with Julie and Chris about supplying their products to their buildings.
Julie says, “Companies and consumers love the fact that we are turning surplus bamboo into toilet tissue. While trees take 20-30 years to grow, bamboo grows up to one metre a day and can be harvested every year. Unlike trees, bamboo is a grass and it grows back from the root meaning you do not need to keep replanting. It also requires no fertilisers, making it a supremely eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to regular paper sources.”
Chris added, “It’s a fairly easy concept to understand. We want to show that luxury, eco-friendly toilet tissue is a viable, affordable alternative to normal toilet paper. Richard Branson tweeted and commented on Facebook about Earth Overshoot Day, explaining that we are consuming 1.6 times the Earth’s biomass. As 10 million trees are used a year for tissue we can make a big difference in making the world more sustainable and we are already launching new products and working with the UK Trade & Investment to make our brand global.”
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