You may have seen my post a couple of months ago, Small Businesses You Can Support Today and I wanted to expand on that, so here we are. Each month, I’ll be sharing an insightful interview with the founder of a small business that has taken my interest and I want more people to know about. If you have a small business or know of a really great one, get in touch with me! Today, I’m talking to Lewis Robling, founder of Cocabana.
Cocabana launched in 2019, so is a really new business less than a year old. I found out about it through Lewis’s girlfriend Steph, who I follow on social media and go to her Stay Sassy events. Cocabana is all about promoting a healthy lifestyle, creating amazing vegan/plant based recipes and making sustainable swaps in day to day life to take care of the planet as well as your body. They have a range of various coconut bowls, cutlery and straws which are all 100% natural. Throughout lockdown they’ve had live cook-a-longs (delicious vegan recipes proving that a vegan diet does not have to be boring!) and live Pilates sessions, and you know how I feel about Pilates! (If you don’t, read this)
I got myself the set of 2 original coconut bowls and love using them for my breakfast bowls (or when I decide to have breakfast for dessert hehe), and filling them with yoghurt, granola, ice cream and smoothie bowls! There are loads of delicious recipes I want to try on the Cocabana Instagram page (I’ve linked it below).
INTERVIEW WITH THE FOUNDER
I’ve put together a set of questions which I sent over to Lewis, and I wanted to directly share his answers with you.
How did Cocabana come about? A coconut obsession born in Bali!! The place is absolutely gorgeous. It’s also sad, because we saw so much plastic pollution. So the idea of Cocabana was born in Bali, from a coconut obsession, in the hope to raise awareness to fighting a global plastic pollution issue. What it stands for now I hope is a lot more than just plastic pollution! I’m going off topic. So one day, in a gorgeous little shack on Gili Air, Steph and I were tucking into yet another smoothie bowl. We were so present in the moment, we were in paradise and an idea popped to mind. It was a name. Cocabana – the smoothie bowl I was eating had coconut flakes, cacao nibs and banana blended into it. Co-ca-bana! I couldn’t get rid of the name! I then thought, what if I could somehow re-create this version of paradise back in the UK? So it all started with coconut bowls, smoothie bowls, bamboo straws and a wooden spoon!
How long was the idea for Cocabana in your head before it actually launched? From the moment we got back from Bali, I started researching.. hour after hour.. a full deep dive into google. Sometimes spending 6 hours+ in one position. My housemate thought I was crazy, so did my family! But we got back from Bali at the start of June and I launched the website on October 1st 2019. So.. 4 months!
What’s the hardest part of running your own business? Accepting the fact that you don’t have control over ever part of the process. Relying on processes to work smoothly and picking up the pieces when they don’t. To answer the question.. It’s problem solving, coupled with my lack of business knowledge. I learn so much every single day!
What do you wish other people knew about being a small business? The hours that go into the little things that I wouldn’t have even thought of as important if I didn’t have my own business. Like email marketing!! haha
Do you use influencer marketing? What has your experience with that been? Yes, I use influencer marketing but I haven’t paid for any campaigns yet. I just offer gifts in the hope that people like our products and want to talk about them. I never put any pressure on anyone to post.
What is one thing people might not know about Cocabana? The founder is a professional rugby player?
Are there any small businesses you’ve supported or discovered recently? There have been a few yes. Grow Wild Acai, Nakd, Tiba Tempeh, Performance Lab, Berry Queen, Stories Behind Things and people to note.. Meera Patel, Luce Hosier, Calum Harris, Ben Rebuck, Steph Elswood, Leila Hannoun, Emily Solman, Eli Brecher… there are so many more but I’d be here all day! I’m so grateful for the support of businesses and influencers alike. It is so important to us in terms of growing and actually making a difference to peoples lives.
Anything else you want to say? Firstly, thank you for asking me these questions! I’m really grateful! Secondly, I just hope people see what we’re trying to do here! The positive change that can come from simply using a natural, organic product made from nature is pretty incredible. It can inspire us to live more mindfully, to understand where our ‘things’ come from, to eat healthier foods, to live a healthier lifestyle, to shop more sustainably, support ethical trading… It’s like a snowball effect!! More and more people are buying into this way of life because it feels GOOD to live like that, knowing the positive impacts it can have on other people and the world around you, it’s infectious! And sometimes all it takes is buying a coconut bowl, or seeing someone else’s picture of a healthy smoothie bowl. It’s pretty cool hey 🙂
If Lewis got your attention here, here’s what you need to do: