Allied Magazine, provided the Allied Health, Fitness and Wellness industries with a platform to share their stories, successes and lessons. The founder of Coconut Bowls, Jake Mckeon, was interviewed for their article 'Going Coconuts for Coconut Bowls' in issue 7, March 2017. This blog post has been republished from the original article.
Going Coconuts for Coconut Bowls!
Using a coconut shell as a bowl? That’s right, eating out of coconut shells is taking the foodie world by storm. Aesthetically pleasing, great for Insta snaps, and a great way to recycle the left over coconut shells from the manufacture of coconut products! We had the chance to talk to the founder of one of the biggest Aussie suppliers of coconut bowls, Jake Mckeon and some of the things that helped Coconut Bowls grow into what it is today.
Tell us about your inspiration for starting Coconut Bowls.
On a trip through south east Asia I came across local communities that used coconut shells for various purposes. Many used to create handicrafts to sell at markets, some used in cultural ceremonies as somewhat of a “gratitude bowl’ to pray into, and many use them like we do, to eat of out.
As a bit of a health food nut, I instantly knew they would be a hit if they could be made into bowls that we could eat out of and then wash and reuse.
Did you experience any challenges when starting Coconut Bowls?
Product wise, it has been a long journey to reach the quality, consistency and durability of the coconut bowls we make today. We now only source a certain type of coconut, and coconuts of a certain age and size.
As we have grown so popular through social media we quickly began shipping overseas from Australia, which is really difficult to find a happy medium between cost and time efficiency. We now have a warehouse in Australia that ships nationally as well as to New Zealand, we also have a Hong Kong warehouse that ships worldwide and are excited to be opening warehouses in California for all North American customers in February, and a European warehouse in March.
As a small business, we have grown from selling 58 bowls in our first month in January, to over 10,000 bowls in the 6 weeks before Christmas, growing so fast has felt like that we’ve been constantly chasing our tails unable to keep up with everything that we would like to do. There have been many sleepless nights and calling on friends to help us pack and ship orders for us. We are now a team of 3, which we will likely double over the next 6 months.
Coconut Bowls started just last year and it has grown so quickly. Tell us some of the things that helped Coconut Bowls flourish into what it is today.
We are incredibly fortunate to have the most amazing customers who showcase and talk about our brand and products every day on social media. Because of the foodie culture on social media, our coconut bowls naturally fit into their photos, and because of their aesthetically pleasing nature they add that little bit of extra beauty to their photos. Also, as Coconut Bowls are a sustainable product of nature, we’ve had many of our customers become advocates for our brand.
You've got a large social following. What were some of the things that helped you achieve this?
Again we have been really lucky with social media. Very early on we had @earthyandy, one of the top plant-based foodie influencers on Instagram share our bowls with her audience. Not only did this instantly translate into sales, we grew from a couple thousand followers to over 10,000 followers. We now work with influencers every month to help showcase our products, but the biggest thing has definitely just been our regular customers creating incredibly beautiful dishes in our bowls and sharing them on social media. I seriously think 90% of our customers could be food stylists, their photos are that good!
What is your opinion on paid advertisements on Facebook and Instagram?
Believe it or not, we’ve done very minimal paid Facebook and Instagram ads. I certainly think they’re extremely valuable places to advertise and we will definitely be to grow our business through paid advertisements on social media in 2017.
What are some techniques you use on social media to reach a wider audience?
I’ve actually run a social media agency for the past few years, which has now become a bit of a side business to Coconut Bowls, so my past experience has certainly helped. I think with social media, the landscape has really changed over the past 6 months. There used to be many tricks of the trade like follow for follow and using the right hashtag, but for me the best practice is to post incredible visual content with engaging, interesting and educational captions. When you start conversations with your followers, you can reach their friends and posts can really go viral. Giveaways and Collaborations with similar brands and people can be a great way to exchange access to each others audience.
Are there any business tips and tricks you’d like to share with fellow entrepreneurs?
While there are many people far more qualified to provide advice than me, I think the three keys are to believe in yourself and your product/business, follow through on your ideas and take action fast and to learn something new that will help your business succeed every day. Actually throw focus and don’t be afraid to fail for good measure. Haha!What does the future hold for Coconut Bowls?I don’t want to think to far ahead, but our mission this year is to get our Coconut Bowls into 100,000 households around the world. As we’ll be opening up localised warehouses over the next few months with cheaper and faster shipping – we should become more attractive to those people who know our brand but are yet to purchase our coconut bowls. We also hope to soon have our Coconut Bowls available for purchase at a large Australian department store, and one of the world’s largest Health Food Stores. I almost forgot, but we also have coconut shell soy candles, more coconut bowls and new spoons coming soon.