Have you ever found yourself sitting on the beach in Bali, drinking from a fresh coconut and thinking "you know what...once I'm done with this, it would make an amazing bowl for my breakfasts back home!".
Yeah, we thought not. Which is why we're glad Jake McKeon, founder of Coconut Bowls, had that lightbulb moment on behalf of us all.
You've probably seen lots of delicious smoothie bowls on our stories recently - these are all pics from you guys, members of our RY community, all using your new Coconut Bowls (from your Autumn Box!) to create delicious morning treats! Yup - these bowls have been THAT popular, and we've even heard stories from some of you going back for more bowls as gifts for your family & friends!
We thought we'd have a chat to Jake to find out how the idea for Coconut Bowls came about, and what he gets up to in his spare time.
Tell us a bit about the people behind your company
We’re a young passionate team, inspired to create beautiful natural products that inspire people to live a healthier life for themselves and the planet. It’s no surprise that our brands core values of health, wellness, sustainability and community are also our personal core values.
What inspired you to start your company and when did you start it?
In late 2015, I stumbled across coconut shell handicrafts at a market in Bali, and instantly thought that if the shells could be turned into bowls with the same finish as the handicrafts, that people would love eating from them. I had some made to match what I envisioned in my head, returned to Australia and began offering them to customers of my previous superfood company, and before long they were a big hit, with customers using them to house their smoothie bowls. In January 2016, I discovered that coconut shells were actually a huge waste problem around the world, and identified enough demand for the products, and took the opportunity to create Coconut Bowls as a new business.
What would an ‘average day in the life of’ look like for you?
I’m usually out of bed by 6am, when I will meditate for 20 minutes before heading to the gym or a class. Then it’s time for a coffee at a cafe before I’m into the office before 8am. If the surf is good, I’ll get up earlier and make my way down the coast, which pushes my work day back a couple of hours. My work day starts with an hour of emails, then I’ll have food prepped combo of overnight oats/chia pudding with berries for breakfast, before I tackle my to do list and begin working through our team’s tasks and activities for the day. I’ll usually try and leave the office by 5pm, to either go for a long walk, work out in the park or do a yoga class. I’ll then jump into the kitchen and have a delicious plant based dinner on the table for my soon to be wife, when she gets home from work at 7pm. After dinner it’s technology down, so we can spend some quality time together.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Enthusiasm for the day ahead. I really don’t enjoy sleeping in, so once my alarm goes off – I’m out of bed, excited to get active and start my day.
How do you make your products?
All of our products are hand crafted by local artisans in Vietnam. Because we source our materials from various farms, we cannot achieve fair trade certification. To combat this, we follow the ETI Base Code for ethical practices, including paying our staff more than 30% above fair trade standards. We also hope to achieve our B Corp certification this year. The highest recognition for an ethical business.
What is your favourite product in your range?
The Jumbo Coconut Bowl. I use it every day multiple times.
What is your favourite way to enjoy your product/s?
Smoothie Bowls and Nice Cream... they literally make the food look soooo good, which to me makes it taste better too ha! I use them for everything though. It’s so nice that all of our products are actually part of my daily life.
What is an interesting way of using your products that not many people would know about?
I actually use the Jumbo bowls, or burnt our coconut candles as planters for succulents. They’re all around my apartment, and are perfect for little cactuses!
What have been the biggest trials so far in starting and running your company?
Logistics has been the most challenging for us. Because we’ve been lucky to receive so much love on social media, it means we’ve gained attention from all over the world. Shipping internationally is challenging, especially when many countries customs want to inspect natural products like ours. This can at times cause delays. Fortunately, we’ve seen enough interest in our products from North America, United Kingdom and Europe to warrant opening warehouses there rather than just shipping from Australia.
What experiences lead to the values you have instilled in your company?
To be honest, I’ve been most inspired by our customers to both drive my own core values and the brands. When I started Coconut Bowls, I considered sustainability and my contribution to waste, however I still valued convenience and wasn’t conscious of the small decisions I was making every day, that added up to contributing a lot of waste to the environment. Nowadays, I try and reduce my impact as much as possible, to the point where I can go a week or more without contributing a single piece of waste. Our products have also been really popular amongst the Vegan community, who have inspired me to eat plant based, which is the most sustainable way of eating. I also believe it’s healthier, and knowing that I’m not supporting unethical livestock farming makes me feel good.
If you weren’t running your company, what would you be doing?
Probably running another business ha! Perhaps a health food product, running a café or working with other business owners, helping them build social media communities.
What is your favourite way of winding down and taking time out?
100% surfing. I love being out in the ocean.
Here at Retreat Yourself, we LOVE dreaming BIG - what is your vision for your company?
There is no specific goal, rather we’ll be guided by our community as we will work together to have a positive impact globally. We’ll continue to introduce natural products that help reduce waste, and improve people’s health for themselves and the planet.
For anyone out there wanting to start their own business, what would your biggest piece of advice be?
Just start. There is no substitute for taking action. Keep your start-up costs minimum and be prepared for it to take 5 years before you’re rewarded for your efforts. It’ll be fun, and at the very least you’ll have a great unique experience, that is valuable should you return to the workforce.
And lastly, what does a fulfilled life look like to you?
To be healthy, happy and contributing to making the world a better place.
You can check out Coconut Bowls on their website: www.coconutbowls.com