When I put in my papers, it struck me that I have taken the first most difficult step, to quit my job and start my venture. I was anyway working fourteen hours for a company that I was not even fond of, and now when I work for my start-up, I realize that it is my creation and I am doing something good for the planet, says Vidur Mayor, founder of For Earth’s Sake.
So, I am an engineer with MBA in marketing and sales. I have had the corporate experience of three and a half years working with renowned companies. I quit my job to start my venture For Earth’s Sake.
Ever since I cleared my MBA, I developed the hobby of travelling. I would travel across the country whenever I had a chance. Gradually I got into the sustainability zone. Most of the time, I would buy things out of India as the accessibility of zero waste products in India was very low. Only 2-3 websites in India were selling such products, but even they were not sure of their products’ sustainability. I realized two huge problems in India regarding sustainable life. Firstly, the lack of accessibility, and secondly, the products available were not affordable.
So, I thought of opening the country’s first zero-waste store and café, which is, For Earth’s Sake, where we also make retail sales for your sustainable supplies. We have everything you might need in your lifestyle, from comb, soaps, stationary toothbrushes to cutlery. There is a wide range of products available on our website.
During my travel, I would hardly encounter any zero-waste café. Whenever I was going outside to have a burger or any eatables, most of the dips and spreads came out of a plastic tube. They were full of trans fats and fake flavours. The restaurants would be offering me strawberries in the off-season. They were serving me frozen stuff, and then I saw the whole process of freezing berries and proteins, fruits, and serving avocados in Delhi when it is not even local to it.
Why do we need to go and have something made out of a frozen fruit that is kept for months together when we have mulberries that are local to India. We source our mulberries a day before from the local market. I don’t have to put my barriers on a plane, get a carbon footprint like people do to bring avocados to Delhi. We are burning a lot of fuel, electricity and creating pollution to bring a batch of avocados to Delhi.
When we talk about products, we always remember the carbon footprint, but we do not realize its impact on the planet when we are eating food.
In our cafe, we have local, fresh, and seasonal stuff. Our menu changes a year thrice. In April, we have a summer menu. We prepare everything in our kitchen without procuring anything in plastic from bread and bun to spread sauce. Having 100% no food waste is not possible, but we are doing our best. We almost have no food waste.
On my 26th birthday, in July 2019, I went to Kashmir on vacation with my family as I did not get to spend much time with them due to work. In Kashmir, in one of the afternoons, I went to stroll in an almost empty park. There were packets of chips and coke bottles spread out across the park. I was listening to music, and I started picking up the waste. My sister also started doing the same. Four-five people around the park also joined us. In one and a half hours, the whole park was clean, and the waste was in the dustbin.
That night I had a conversation with my sister. She praised me for what I did and also mentioned that it is not enough. The park is going to be littered again. It will be the same story over and over.
I told my sister the idea I had of opening the country’s first zero-waste store and café. I was a little hesitant about whether the idea will work or not. My sister said you work tirelessly for a company you are not even fond of. You do it because you are good at it, but there is something you are cribbing about most of the time. So why not take the risk! I will support you as much as I can.
It was a changing point in my life. A week later, in July 2019, I put in my papers. My last day at job was 31st September, and I opened For Earth’s Sake on 13 October.
For the last three years, I was already following sustainability in my life as much as possible. So, I had an idea of what I wanted to bring to the table.
The only challenge I faced was how. I travelled a lot across the country during my job. The experiences I had in my workplace and my experiences while I was travelling were all combined, keeping the problem at hand.
The problem was accessibility and affordability. We are trying to have easy physical accessibility of our products so that you can walk up to your community market and buy sustainable supplies. The price point has to be perfectly low for a person to stick to a sustainable solution and run a business successfully.
A lot of learning happened in building For Earth’s Sake. Everything was build in three months. I did market research, but we did not have many numbers to present because we were the first ones to start this. The first obstacle was whether the market would accept it or not. It was a new concept. We did not even know whether the audience we were targeting was big enough. Now we know it is huge. We launched close to the pandemic. In February 2020, things started shutting down around the world.
We had a certain amount of footfall, regular customers, but we were a small place. We had decided to expand into a bigger space. While we were in the process of expanding, lockdown happened. People were not coming out, and we had invested in a new space. During the lockdown, I did deliveries myself as much as I could in Delhi NCR. We could not let the company die because there was a 3-month break. So we did a lot of online collaborations, got a lot of content out.
When the pandemic situation improved, we realized that we are growing. Pandemic was challenging for everyone. We were already small and ready to struggle. Successful brands had to cut down people, chase their team, change the way they operated. However, we did not have the said SOP on how to operate because we had just expanded.
Things might come your way but not giving up is very important. We had a hard time. For the first couple of months, I was pumping rent from my savings, and we did not have enough customers. Apart from the physical store we are having in Delhi, we have 10-12 stockists who resell our stuff.
Initially, brands were not very keen on working with us, but now these brands want to work with us. So the learning is, if we keep doing what is appropriate to do, things will come around. One needs to be flexible in different situations in terms of the operation and company. I need to keep my end goal in vision. The hurdles keep changing, and we have to keep adapting.
In the last company that I worked with, I had a big team working under me to do my work. For Earth’s Sake, I had to get down and be a part of the grind, which was very exciting. I never felt it wasn’t easy to do something for my brand. After For Earth’s Sake, I spent all the time working for my company, and the benefits did come around. People started noticing us.
Now I do not go to the office anymore, and I go to my café. I started For Earth’s Sake with two people, and now I have a team of twelve people. We are constantly evolving and growing. It is very motivating for us when people appreciate our work.
We have expanded our café from a small to a bigger space. The next step is to grow our online presence and work towards opening more cafes and stores. Our first target is to cover more cafes and stores in Delhi NCR so that more people can have access to it, and then we plan to grow across the country.
“Sustainability is not expensive,” says Vidur Mayor, founder of For Earth’s Sake. If you look at the alternatives we have, we can replace them and have a much simpler life.
Vidur should be highly applauded for this endeavour in creating a sustainable lifestyle. He came up with a concept that might be new for the consumers but is the need of the hour. Having a sustainable lifestyle is as simple as having a lifestyle. It does not have to be any different.