When Karst Stone Paper director and founder Kevin Garcia first encountered paper made from stone, he was fascinated by its sustainable properties – with no trees, water, bleach or acids needed to create the end product.
“It’s made from calcium carbonate, one of the most abundant materials on this planet,” he says.
Kevin found the durability of stone paper just as impressive. Originally invented to package food, the paper is completely waterproof.
“It’s also very difficult to tear – and you won’t get any paper cuts from it,” he explains. “I thought, this has amazing abilities – let's turn this into a consumer product.”
A sustainable paper trail
Kevin travelled from Sydney to Taiwan, where stone paper had been invented, to investigate further. He then decided to use it to create beautiful stationery – notebooks, planners and journals – in the most sustainable way possible.
“We use recycled stone mixed with a non-toxic resin as a binder,” says Kevin. “The factory producing the stone is powered partly by solar power. The process requires no water or wood-pulp and uses 60% less carbon emissions than traditional paper. We also plant a tree for every notebook purchased online to help offset our total emissions.”
Being naturally white, the manufacturing process of stone paper requires no additives or bleach. And because it doesn’t contain pulp, the paper is incredibly smooth – making it beautiful to write on.
When they launched the product two years ago, Kevin said that customers found it hard to believe the product was really made of stone.
“Now we are getting great feedback, and they’re asking for more products,” he said.
“The only way for us to expand and move forward was to double down on the size of our invoicing and product ordering. Export Finance Australia was extremely important in enabling this growth. Kevin Garcia, Founder, Karst Stone Paper”.
The business spread the word about its sustainable product using digital platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Google Ads, successfully marketing its stationery to more than 65 countries including the US, the UK and Europe. But entering the export market was a steep learning curve for them.
“I think a lot of people underestimate the cost of taxes, duties, import taxes and freight,” he says. “I had no background in this, so had to learn on the way.”
Kevin says they also quickly discovered the value of forming strong partnerships with their supply chain to scale the business quickly. But the real challenge came when they wanted to expand their product range and needed additional finance.
“Traditional finance has always been a pain point for us – not only the amount of finance available but also the process of getting it,” he says.
So when Karst Stone Paper approached Export Finance Australia for help, they were surprised at how easy the process was.
“The application form was very streamlined and all done online,” says Kevin. “Within two weeks the funding came through, allowing us to expand our product lines and inventory, and export to more countries. It took a lot of stress off us – and off our bottom line.”
With a growing customer base for business-to-business, the future looks bright – giving Kevin the opportunity to keep doing what he loves.
“I love bringing a product to life,” he said. “I think I’ll always chase the feeling I get from creating something new that other people want to purchase.”
Do you need access to export finance? Contact Export Finance Australia on 1800 093 724 or exportfinance.gov.au.