Going reusable just makes sense, and we have found the cream of the crop! My Vita Bag reusable produce bags are your sustainable alternative to plastic bags. They are ethically made from certified organic fabrics, are designed to last many years, and they are 100% compostable! Their whole supply chain is ethical and responsible and all their products are GOTS certified. Good stuff. We spoke to Founder Cecilia Clavijo Boshoff to learn more about how she got started.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I cannot think of only one thing that inspired me. I guess it was more a sequence of moments and experiences that took place over the years, but one of the big moments that made me decide to take action in some way was the day my then-six-year-old boy came home from school and told me he had watched this video of the ocean and the animals, and one whale had died because her stomach was full of plastic. He had a very sad look on his face and so many questions.
I felt it was the first time he was not proud of what we were doing as a family, as a country and as human beings in general, and my integrity as a person was challenged at that moment.
My children are my constant reminder of the things that give life meaning and things that are worth protecting, so I decided to learn more about the problem and after I did there was no way I could stay the same.
The Launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I was completing my post graduate degree in business management when I received a scholarship for the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Entrepreneurship. This allowed me to focus on My Vita Bag full time.
For almost a year, I spent every day researching ethical manufacturers, sourcing environmentally-friendly materials, and validating the market to see if there was an appetite for my product. Then by chance, I met the sustainability manager of Foodstuffs South Island at a Christchurch City Council event.
He was interested in the product and offered the opportunity to trial the bags in some stores in the South Island. From there we have not stopped and are now in more than 65 stores all over New Zealand.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
We’ve been operating for just over a year – there is a lot more to go, but for me the biggest breakthrough with the business was piloting a fundraising scheme last year.
More than 400 schools and playcentres took part. It was great to connect with our communities and enable them to raise funds while encouraging good new habits in our children and children’s families.
My Vita Bag is all about changing behaviours and daily routines to build a sustainable future… the best world we want to live in.
This is one example of the feedback we’ve got from one of the parents who bought the bags in the fundraiser, it made my day:
“The product is great value for money especially given that they are organic as well. No excess packaging is awesome. As apparent this is the best kind of school fundraising given it is a product that I believe in, are happy to sell off to friends & family and own myself.” – Melissa
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
Being a mum is challenging regardless if you are a stay at home mum, working, or run your own business. A few things that have helped me is to think practically. My three boys are at primary school now, so I focus on work during school hours and again once they go to sleep at night.
My husband is not hands on with the business, but he helps heaps at home so that takes a bit of stress on my side. I talk a lot to my boys, ask their advice. I make them part of this adventure and I also tell them when I am scared or worried or had a bad day. I hope they will do the same, come to me to talk things out when they need to. I get up at 6 am every day do my best and put the rest in God’s hands.