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  • Writer's pictureElise Garner

Spotlight: The Kind Table

This month we spoke to one of Rye's most wholesome businesses, The Kind Table! With sustainability becoming even more prevalent in home and work life, we had a chat with Mia and David about their journey and experience of their first year trading here in Rye.


1. Hello! How would you describe your business to us?

The Kind Table is Rye’s first refillery and sustainable lifestyle store.


2. When was your business founded?

In reality the dream of having a shop probably dates back ten years. We were ‘tourists’ to Rye for many years before we moved down from London. We first came up with the idea for The Kind Table back in 2021 and started planning for it, and we opened our doors on the 2nd April 2022.

3. Could you tell us a bit more about your background, Mia?

I’m from South Africa and I grew up being close to nature. One of the reasons I love Rye and this area is that it reminds me of home. Growing up around vineyards I saw the effects of climate change on the landscape around me – the droughts on farmland and so on. It made me very aware from a young age of the importance of looking after our environment.


Fast forward to when I came to London to live and work, and I met Dave. We lived in Croydon and once we had our daughter it made us want to live more sustainably. We used to visit Crystal Palace market where there were two places we’d refill – one for our food and one for cleaning and household products. At the same time, I began making my own products – just for our own use. Once we moved down here and then lockdown happened I spent more and more time making my own products and that was where the idea really took hold.


Nearly everything we stock in the shop is a product we’ve tried and tested. I’m a firm believer that we can’t ignore the links between the lifestyles we lead and our health.


4. So what sets your business apart from the rest?

Our ethos - our commitment to sustainability. We believe that everybody can change the world – one step at a time and our business is testament to that.


5. What values drive your business?

We are committed to sustainability. We also have a strong sense of community. And woven into both of those things is our commitment to educating people about the need for lifestyle changes and sustainable consumer choices. While we never preach we do feel it is our responsibility to find ways to engage, particularly with the next generation, to inform and encourage different choices.


6. What can we look out for in 2023?

As well as the shop we do ten markets and pops ups each month covering Brede, Lydd, Rolvenden, Tenterden, Rye Harbour, Beckley and Northiam – we like being part of those community events and it’s a way of establishing ourselves with a wider audience. With those in mind we’d like to invest in a van for the business – so we can carry a wider range of stock to those events.


It’s particularly important for us to venture out into the community because we’re a small business with very limited budgets for marketing and advertising – so taking our offering out and about is a very personal and effective way of reaching more people.


We also think there is a growing opportunity to work with local businesses – holiday lets and AirBnbs who share our environmental values and want to use the products we stock within their own businesses.


In the future as we continue to grow it would be ideal to move to a bigger premises and expand the shop further, but it will need to be the right place at the right time.


7. What challenges does your business face this year?

Staying open is the priority! So many refilleries around London and the southeast have closed in recent months. The rising cost of living means that people’s budgets are squeezed so making more conscious purchasing decisions understandably may fall victim to budget buys.


We’d like to expand the shop and move to a more prominent location in Rye, but obviously with that growth would come further financial challenges - business rates for example


We have very limited budgets for marketing activity so we have to be very effective with what we do on social media and we need to build on our messaging so we can reach more people.


We’re sure there are grants and funding opportunities out there for niche businesses like ours but accessing them is challenging.


8. What are you most proud of in your business?

I think surviving our first year. So many new start-ups and businesses don’t get past their first year, particularly in the current economic climate. So it was a big milestone.


We’ve almost outgrown our space here too –- we are pretty much at maximum shelf space now and the fact that we carry that much more stock now is an indicator of our growth too.


On the sustainability front, we’re incredibly proud to be able to say that our refills have meant that a total of 1080 500ml bottles have been ‘saved’ from ending up in the ocean. And a further 300 beauty containers have been saved from landfill.

9. If there was one piece of advice you wish you’d had been given when you opened your business what would it be?


I think it would have helped to know just how challenging accessing the right information would be. As a small start-up, we needed help and guidance on most things and although there is help out there, there isn’t an easy-to-access one stop shop/guide where you can find it all in one place. Hard work was never an issue – but lack of clarity of information was sometimes a challenge.


We recognise that we were lucky in that Nicky at Paws and Claws was incredibly helpful in mentoring us when we first set up the business. Having a business buddy is something that all new businesses could benefit from while they establish a footing – a way for establishing businesses of paying it forward by helping others. After all, in a small town we are all working towards the common goal of increasing footfall and spending.


10. What's the biggest change you’ve seen in your business or your business sector since you started?


Refill shops that couldn’t pivot to a collection delivery model didn’t survive lockdown.


But now we are this side of the pandemic it is challenging seeing people revert to their pre-pandemic shopping habits. Ethical consumer habits will always hinge on a moral choice – and those choices become challenged during a cost-of-living crisis because environmentally sound, sustainable brands with closed-loop supply chains can’t rival the budget brands offered by supermarkets.

 

To shop online at The Kind Table click here. You can find them on Facebook here and Instagram here. What's better - pay them a visit! You can find their shop at 5A Market Rd, Rye TN31 7JA.


Don't forget to follow us on Instagram to see the quick-fire question reel we did for The Kind Table. Thanks for reading!






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