Plastic touches all our lives everyday. Most of us don’t give a second thought before throwing out that plastic bag. We don’t concern ourselves with the millions of precious aquatic lives that get ensnared in our waste and die tragically. Producing waste seems to be a sort of a God given right to most of us.
And then there are people who see pictures of the great garbage patch in the Pacific ocean, feel sad for a moment and then move on with their lives.
Finally, there’s the tribe that decides to take action. Small actions at first, but once they gather momentum actions that could potentially become a global movement.
Today we are in conversation with once such couple – Farzan & Jennifer Dehmoubed – who have made it their life mission to eliminate single-use plastic from all our lives. Their simple yet ingenious solution will go a long way in reducing the plastic in our oceans and our lives.
Tell us about yourself:
Farzan: Wife and husband team living in Carlsbad, California. I grew up in Canada and moved to California to escape the cold. Have lived in San Diego for the last 10 years and love it ever since.
What problem in the market are you trying to solve with your product?
Our business was born out of pure frustration. The sad facts are that Americans use 100 BILLION plastic bags per year. Can you believe only 1% of plastic bags are recycled per year and they are used for an average of 12 minutes? It is projected that there will soon be more plastic than fish in our world’s oceans.
So what to do?
Enter our idea and creation of the Lotus Trolley Bag.
Together we put our heads and hearts together and came up with a sustainable and convenient alternative to plastic bags.
California became the first state to ban single-use plastic bags in 2016. We were both happy when the plastic bag ban came into effect, but what we found was that with a lot of families, it didn’t reduce waste. We were just accumulating bigger, more cumbersome plastic bags or cheap reusable bags that piled up endlessly in drawers and closets. My whole pantry was becoming a reusable bag wasteland. Bet you have one of those “zones” in your home too.
So, we jumped on the opportunity to supply shoppers with a new way to pack their groceries while solving the plastic and reusable bag dilemma.
We created the Lotus Trolley Bag, a four bag system that spreads out and hangs from your grocery cart, accordion-file style to allow for easy packing and organization (see the pictures for the full visual). There is a deep insulated bag for cold items, pockets to hold eggs securely, wine sleeves to keep bottles safe, and strong mesh bottoms to prevent spills from pooling and molding. They roll up neatly into a clutter free, lightweight carrier and are machine washable. These bags save time and energy, but most importantly they eliminate millions of wasteful, harmful plastic bags from our environment.
How is your product different from those of the established players in your market?
Our main competition was the standard plastic bag and the typical cheap reusable bags that we all accumulate and forget at home. We wanted to come up with a system and that’s what the Lotus Trolley Bag is. We now have multiple patents filed on the design and have added numerous featured to make it shopping easier, more organised and faster. Because the bags hang open allowing you to bag with both hands, the checkout process is literally cut in half. The response has been so amazing and we are looking forward to spreading the concept throughout the US and the world.
Do you think you can overtake your competition?
Over the last year, the Lotus Trolley Bag has become one of the best selling bags on all of Amazon. We are always innovating however to make our bags the best that we can. Our new features include removable rods, specialised pockets for egg and wine, a large insulated cooler bag and outside pockets for your Lotus Produce Bags. Its important to constantly innovate and stay ahead of competition. Our new patents allow us to protect our innovations and we plan on continuing this process. It’s also important to always listen to your customer and see what the market is demanding. Although listening to positive feedback is great, the most valuable feedback is negative. Treat those importantly and understand the reasons and solution behind negative feedback.
How does your product make you money?
Fortunately from the very beginning Lotus Trolley Bag was cashflow positive. Our sales online and in grocery stores allow us to make a positive margin. The response and adoption has been amazing to see and thus far we have not had to raise outside funding. However, as we grow throughout the US and in other countries we will be looking for investors and angels for funding.
Where do you see yourself and your product in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years we see our product being used in multiple countries and a concept that every family becomes aware of. We will strive to make this concept the best alternative to wasteful plastic shopping bags.
Do you have any advice for new entrepreneurs?
It all comes down to hard work and luck. It certainly helps to be in the right place at the right time but if you are not willing to spend 10-14 hours a day working on your business, it’s probably best to keep your day job. Our business has consumed us and our everyday life. That’s why it’s so important to start a business you are passionate about. You will have to give it everything you have, so it may as well be for a cause you believe in and enjoy. For us it was all about reducing plastic bag waste. We knew we would be content even if we could make a small dent in the amount of plastic bags people use. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a business you’ve created succeed. The risk is always worth it in my opinion. Just plan for it to be harder than you expected, longer hours than you wanted, and consuming. But in the end you will love it and your family with thank you for it.