10 Questions with Chris Forbes, Cofounder of The Cheeky Panda Sustainable Bamboo Tissue Products
- Thank you so much for sharing your story with our readers. Can you tell our audience a bit about yourself?
I’m 46 years old, I grew up in the highlands of Scotland and have always had a love for nature, even when it rains, which in Scotland is a lot. I’m married to my partner and co-founder Julie and we have a 4-year-old boy Leo.
2. The Cheeky Panda is now the top bamboo tissue company in the world. How and when did you get started with it, and how did you grow it to where it is today?
It was Julie’s idea, she said “I can make tissue from bamboo” and I said, “why would you do that”, to which she responded, “it’s the world’s fastest growing plant”. We tried it ourselves for 6 months and we couldn’t believe how good it was, tissue hadn’t been disrupted in decades so we rolled the dice and here we are.
3. You have various collections of tissue products available, why haven’t you moved into other types of bamboo products like cutting boards and disposable tableware?
There is a lot for us to disrupt in hygiene and we’ve learnt you can’t do everything all at once otherwise you become target blind. We’re focussed on household, baby, beauty and office supplies each of those categories has billions of spend so we have plenty to go at for now.
4. What has the customer feedback been like? Is The Cheeky Panda toilet paper a gateway drug to environmental consciousness?
Cheeky Panda has over 20,000 5-star reviews, a lot of people who review us have sensitive skin so they use it first and foremost for its quality. Then when they find out how environmentally friendly it is they begin to love the brand. We believe you can have sustainable brands that literally don’t cost the earth. Making that possible opens up people’s environmental consciousness.
5. You have a very serious positive impact on the world but a playful and fun brand image. Do you worry that people won’t take your brand seriously?
The mass market in a data-rich world doesn’t take time to study the details. They want brands that make them feel good and are easy to embrace. We’ve gone for a family-centric theme and not preachy. Sometimes that means being a bit fun and whacky like the panda hats, but do you know what that’s okay, it’s my belief we need feel-good brands to have personality.
6. What are your products made out of and is the process sustainable?
Everything we do is 100% bamboo, we are a B Corp and all the material is FSC certified. We are setting new standards in the hygiene world, we are reducing plastic, cutting carbon and saving trees. I don’t think deforestation products wrapped in plastic are the future of hygiene.
7. Are you the only company that makes bamboo toilet paper?
There are a few companies that do bamboo tissue in a box on subscription but we are the only one who has an omnichannel strategy across household, baby, beauty and offices.
8. Why bamboo and specifically why not hemp?
I’ve seen that as an internet meme hundreds of times but I’ve never seen a hemp toilet tissue roll. We are bamboo experts that’s our field of expertise, I’d love to see a hemp expert also take on the tissue category.
- Besides The Cheeky Panda, do you have any other sustainability-type projects in the works?
We work with partners to improve sustainability in the supply chain we’ve got a really exciting new product developed with a large restaurant chain and we hope to be able to announce it soon. Innovation is addictive and I don’t believe in standing still so watch this space.
10. Is there any upcoming news you’d like to share with our readers?
The big one is we are doing a crowdfunding round in mid October on Seedrs and hopefully with Republic in the USA. We have 5,000 panda-nauts that can buy and sell shares on the secondary market and we’d love to get more people involved in our mission to make the world a better place.
Bonus: Where can readers get one of those cool panda hats?
On www.cheekypanda.com you get panda points for purchases which can be redeemed for merchandise. Or you can ask me very nicely and I can see what I can do.