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Reflections from 2017

It’s the end of December and we’re all busy wrapping up the year before taking a much needed break next week. But before we become consumed by the busy-ness, we’re taking a few moments to appreciate all that has happened with Nada in 2017. We’ve had so many milestones this year – from rebranding to Nada, to securing our lease, to running our crowdfunding campaign to help open our doors early next year. We’re offering some reflections on growthimpactrelationshipspatience, and community.

We love the reflective moments that come at the end of the year, and encourage all of you to also take some time to reflect on your own 2017 … before we all charge forward together to take on the new year!

Growth

Even from a strictly “business” point of view, this year was a success, with growth in revenue, pop-ups, products, staff, customers, and community partnerships. We’ve also had a significant shift in focus over the past year, from idea validation to permanence & growth. This shift came to a crux in June, when we rebranded from Zero Waste Market to Nada.

Zero Waste Market was an important stage in our business, as we tested out the likes of a package-free grocery store. This simple idea resonated with so many people – we had come across a gap in the grocery store landscape that we had only hoped existed, and it was time to focus on growth.

The transition to Nada came from the realization that “Zero Waste Market” had become so much more than just a market. “Nada” gave us the opportunity to focus on a fresh new image that represents the creativity and innovation behind our business.

With this brand transition, we also gathered up the values we had been developing since 2015, and consolidated them into our Mission, Vision, and Company Values. These give us inspiration every day into how to be the change we want to see in this world.

Our mission is to cultivate a better world by inspiring people to change the way they shop for groceries. We’re standing up for a just food system and an unpackaged future.

As we consolidated, we also grew. Here’s a few ways we grew in 2017:

  • We hired two more staff positions, welcoming Michelle Cho as our Information Systems & Operations Engineer and Brianna Brown as our Marketing Assistant & Impact Manager. This grew our little team to FIVE!
  • We hosted 24 pop-ups! In addition to monthly pop-ups at Patagonia, we formed a new partnership with the Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market, and also popped up at events around the city … just this past weekend we hosted our first pop-up in our Fraser & Broadway space!
  • At those new pop-up shops, we introduced many new products, with lots of amazing, local, community-focused and environmentally-conscious suppliers now on board (and so many more lined up for our permanent store!)
  • We’ve begun to get some great recognition for our small but growing business. We were nominated for three Small Business BC Awards and have made it to the top ten finalists for Innovation!
  • We were also selected as a Top 25 Venture for SheEO, an amazing network of women funders supporting women entrepreneurs. Cross your fingers for us to make it to the top 5 in the new year!!
  • As individuals, Brianne was nominated for a YWCA Women of Distinction Award and Alison for a BC Business Top 30 Under 30 Award.
Proud to show off our new colours at the Mount Pleasant Mural Fest, meeting lots of new people while celebrating art and culture in this city!

Impact

As we have grown, we have also increased our impact. We believe that our business is only one part of the solution to critical social & environmental problems around plastic pollution, food waste, and food security in Vancouver and beyond. We are proud to partner with other businesses and community partners to address these issues together.

Since our start in 2015 we have been donating 1% of our sales to grassroots non-profits tackling key social and environmental issues. This year we strengthened that commitment through membership with 1% for the Planet! We are excited to join a community of business partners who believe in the imperative of giving back to our communities. In 2017 we partnered with the Georgia Strait Alliance, the Binners’ Project, Food Stash Foundation, and Fresh Roots.

Some of our friends who came along our clean up of Mount Pleasant Park on a very rainy October Saturday.

Another way that we give back is by hosting community events that foster information-sharing and relationship-building among some incredible folks in Vancouver. Events we hosted this year included a film screening of A Plastic Ocean (see our blog post, here!), a Zero Waste Hike & Snack Workshop, Earth Day events at Earnest Ice Cream, MEC, and Nature’s Path, and a community picnic co-hosted with Rob Greenfield. Through these events we engaged 400+ people, and are excited to host many more events in the new year!

Relationships

We’ve also had the incredible opportunity to partner with like-minded businesses, which we believe strengthens the fabric of social entrepreneurship in Vancouver. In January, we were delighted to join the 2017 cohort of UBC’s CCS iHub business accelerator program. As alumni of Spring Activator and SFU Radius, we have tapped into a myriad of start-up resources which have been so critical for our ongoing success. In addition to providing mentorship and resources around funding, business development, and growth, we’ve been able to foster some amazing relationships with other social entrepreneurs in Vancouver.

Biggest shout out to our fellow iHub cohort members – ChopValue, GRAIN, Quupe, and MeatMe!

We’ve also deepened relationships throughout our supply chain. We believe that a key contributor to our success has been great relationships with our suppliers. These relationships not only mean that we have confidence in where our products are coming from, but they have also allowed us to experiment with innovative solutions to further reduce packaging at the source.

Patience.

Perhaps the most notable milestone of this year was securing our permanent storefront at 675 East Broadway!! We know that for package-free shopping to be a successful alternative to the status quo, it needs to be convenient. It needs to be available any day of the week. It needs to have a full range of product offerings. And it needs to be easier for our customers to bring their own containers, have them weighed, and not have it take all day!

As we end the year, we are well on our way to making this dream come true, with a truly amazing location, a team of talented individuals who surpass our expectations every day, and some tricks up our sleeves to make this store the very best it can be.

At our first pop-up in our new space, we asked our community what YOU want to see from Nada! These ideas will feed in to our strategy to make this store the very best it can be.

But it hasn’t been an easy journey … this year has also been a huge lesson in patience, not only for our customers, but also for us. Time and time again over the past two years we have proven the demand for a package-free grocery store in Vancouver, but that does not mean it has been an easy road to secure a permanent store. In February, we first announced that we were close to securing our permanent storefront, and attracted 20,000 signatures in support (you guys rock!). Yet it still took until July for the lease to be secured, and we are still waiting on the building permit approvals before we can begin construction.

During this time, we have been motivated by the amazing talents of our design team, the fantastic support of our business and community partners, and of course by you – our ever-inspiring community. We were so excited to welcome 300+ people in our space for our crowdfunding launch party in November, and despite the theme of patience, we CANNOT WAIT to welcome you all in once the store is complete!

Community

You might have noticed a common theme throughout all this, and that is community. Every pop-up, every event, every campaign, every Facebook post or Instagram story or Tweet … we are so delighted to have you all beside us as we strive to create not just OUR but YOUR dream package-free grocery store.

You guys constantly blow away our expectations, like when we launched our petition in February and received 20,000 signatures in support of our model, or more recently when we launched our crowdfunding campaign and received $55,555 from 499 backers! Your dedication and support are a guiding light that YES this is exactly what Vancouver (and the world) needs!

At our November crowdfunding launch, we crammed over 300 friends into our new space for the first time! What an amazing feeling to have so many wonderful beings in one room!

We’ve also been delighted to see this movement begin to move from the niche to the mainstream. Every pop-up we see new faces who are trying out package-free shopping for the first time, who are beginning to ask questions about how their food system works, and who are beginning to consider what actions they can take to live a life more aligned with their values.

You guys keep us going, you really do. We’ll be looking to make this next year even greater, pushing forward towards an unpackaged future. We challenge all of you too, to expand your zero waste horizons and commit to a new zero waste goal for 2018.

Thanks for everything this year, and here’s to a KILLER 2018!!