Sometimes finding personal enjoyment in an unusual product can be the start of lucrative business opportunity, as Greenlife Online founder Matthew Devitt discovered.
The Adelaide resident, who already owns and operates a solar business, purchased a watch he really liked from an ad on social media. The watch, made from sustainable wood by WeWood, proved to be a big hit with everyone Mr Devitt came into contact with.
“I'd never seen one like it before and I thought it was really cool and so I got one,” Mr Devitt told My Business.
“Pretty much from day one when I was wearing it, I started getting so many people asking me about where I got it and if they could try it on; they were just really interested to see something like that made out of wood.”
This level of interest led Mr Devitt to launch his own online store, importing and selling the WeWood watches as well as a select range of fashion accessories made from sustainable materials.
“I was really interested in eco-friendly brands, but I couldn't really find any websites in Australia that had a lot of these different products all in the one place. So I thought there was an opportunity to have a bit of a one-stop shop as far as that goes,” he said.
“With Greenlife Online, it's about wearing a lot of the same things, like watches and sunglasses and phone covers and wallets and all that sort of stuff, these are things that people are going to buy anyway. But I just wanted to make a much more sustainable alternative available.”
Mr Devitt said Greenlife Online has expanded rapidly in its first two years of operation, and he is now looking at options to bring on a business partner to help manage that growth.
He maintains that while the term 'sustainable' has been thrown around a lot in corporate marketing in recent years, he is determined to practice what he preaches – the business relies on solar power and fully recycled packaging materials – while also appealing to as broad an audience as possible.
“I'm aware not everyone is interested in the environment necessarily, but if you can still have products that are better for the environment and more sustainable without them being drastically different from what people are used to, I think if you can still get through to people, then that's still a win,” Mr Devitt said.
“I think people on the whole now just have a pretty eco-friendly mindset in how they look at things, or at least a lot more than they did 10 years ago.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.