In this episode of the podcast, we talk to Amanda Teo of noissue - maker of sustainable tissue and packaging for small businesses. We learn more about how they make it easy to customize and buy in small batches to better serve their customers.
JJ (the host of the Understory Podcast): Hello everybody, welcome back to The Understory Podcast. We are here to highlight innovations and innovators that are making our world more sustainable.
We are super excited today to have Amanda Teo who is part of noissue to tell us about what is noissue, what are they building, and why is it important. Amanda, welcome to The Understory Podcast.
Amanda Teo: Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
JJ: Tell us about what is noissue? What does the company do and what are you building?
Amanda: noissue brings custom, sustainable packaging solutions to makers, brands, and businesses. It was originally founded in New Zealand, and the environment has been such an important component of our business. We have since grown into a hugely global business with members all over the world. Sustainability remains at the heart of what we do.
We look at three elements for each of the products that we have. Sustainability, customization, and small business friendly. Traditionally custom packaging comes in high order quantities, meaning that it is out of reach for a lot of small businesses.
We want to change that. Essentially, we want to make it accessible for any brand or business no matter their size. To be able to provide a custom, personal, and branded unboxing experience for their customers.
JJ: Super cool. Amanda, tell us a little bit more about what you just actually mentioned, which is making sustainable packaging sustainable accessible to small businesses which do not necessarily have a lot of budget to make the business model work. You are also able to make packaging customizable for these brands, so that their message and story is on the packaging. Can you tell us a little bit more about the how and how do you execute? How do you implement that?
Amanda: From a business side of things, we always look for low minimum order quantities. We want to make sure the product is at a small enough run that it is not a huge upfront investment for a small business. If we look at our customized tissues, you only have to have a run of 250 shades, and usually that's more than enough for a small business to get started.
We also knew that small businesses have resource constraints in the term of designers and budget. On the design side, we made it simple to upload your logo, choose a template from our library, and print. Essentially, it is all done online and delivered to your door.
JJ: You send customized, branded packaging to these small businesses who are your customers. And they do everything online.
Amanda: They do everything online. They can upload another design if they do not want a logo pattern, you can upload an illustration. It is basically a blank canvas for most of our products.
JJ: From the product perspective. What is the spectrum of products you are offering? You mentioned sheets like wrapping sheets. I presume, boxes? What else?
Amanda: We do custom tissue, custom tape, stickers, custom stamps, custom cards, and soft mailers. The mailer is 100% compossible, and it is cute. It says hey, “I'm a compossible mailer” on the front, and it tells them people how to properly compost on the back.
JJ: Can you share more about the materials that you are using to make your products?
Amanda: We use FC certified paper, which means that it comes from a sustainably run forest. We also print with soy-based inks, which is a renewable resource. It gives a vibrant color as well, so it looks awesome on packaging. For our mailers, we use a combination of corn polymers. Plant-based materials are important to us. And we do paper stickers too, no plastic, so it is compostable. And the adhesive is non-toxic.
JJ: For the customers, how does this business model work? Do they then pass on the cost of this packaging to their end consumers? Is it higher than traditional packaging or will customers be indifferent when they are at scale? And in fact, the sustainable packaging solutions are a much better choice for them.
Amanda: I think sustainability plays a huge part. I would say our customer base is very focused on that. I think a lot of consumers are open to not necessarily the higher cost that comes with sustainable packaging, but the value that it brings. They understand that e-commerce is responsible for a huge amount of plastic and packaging waste. They enjoy a company that uses sustainable packaging. I think that is the real value in using noissue products.
I am guessing they use it as part of a business cost, and if they were to go to more traditional plastic packaging, it is often harder to customize at our quantities. They get a lot of value. For a very similar price point, we are extremely competitive in our pricing in the market, which is one of those things we are proud of.
JJ: I want to shift gears and ask you about where the company was founded. You mentioned that it was founded in New Zealand, and now it is a global team. Amazing story. Has the fact that the company was founded New Zealand accelerated the adoption first from the local businesses and brands in New Zealand? And then perhaps expanded to Australia, Europe, the US, and other countries.
Amanda: It is probably the opposite. Although we were founded in New Zealand, we have had a global, international focus from day one. We have always thought big and aimed big, and the US has always been a big market for us. That is where we saw a lot of early adoption and demand for our product.
There are so many small businesses, and there are so many people running side hustles which is another customer type that we have. These people are looking to turn something full time, but they are testing the waters. Globally, it is just a very more entrepreneurial mindset these days.
JJ: Your buyers are entrepreneurs. They want to build sustainable. They have a sustainable message. They want to have sustainable packaging and a lot of the things that you said really connect the dots here.
How do you measure impact, or how would you communicate the impact to your customers?
Amanda: We have something called the Eco Packaging Alliance which allows our customers to plant a tree for every order they make. As the tree grows, it sequesters carbon emissions and helps the environment it was planted in. You can choose the location you plant your tree, and it helps offset the impact of running an e-commerce business. The more orders they make, the more trees they plant. We send updates on the trees growing, and we are really looking to build that out into a more comprehensive information sharing platform where you get updates on what that forest is doing as well.
JJ: That's great and last question. Where can brands and organizations find noissue and learn more about the product and figure out if this is something right for them?
Amanda: You can head to our website www.noissue.co, where you can see our entire product range. You can play around in the editors. We have an awesome blog with resources for small businesses and anything sustainable packaging. You can also find us on Instagram at @noissueco. We are on Twitter and Facebook too. Come follow us and chat with us.
JJ: Amanda, thank you so much for sharing the story of noissue today. We look forward to seeing more sustainable packaging in the world.
Amanda: Thank you so much.