A business that specialises in sustainable plant pots, made from end-of-life rope and finishing net increased business operations substantially following support from Business Gateway.
Founded by former North Sea Saturation diver Ally Mitchell in January 2021, Ocean Plastic Pots is the first business in the world to sell plant pots made from end of life or discarded fishing gear, and plastic fish boxes.
Based in East Renfrewshire, Ally set up the business after he salvaged a ship carrying large quantities of plastic waste and saw the devastating impact this could have on the Scottish marine environment. He started working with waste materials including coloured plastic collected from the beach and deemed non-recyclable, and looked for ways to repurpose and reuse them. This led to the creation of his product which promotes a circulate economy and grows awareness of the ocean plastic problem.
Ally approached Business Gateway for advice as he looked to scale up business activities. Working closely with Business Gateway, Ally accessed support as he mapped out his initial business model and received guidance for his pitch at the final of ScottishEDGE round17.
Through this preparation, Ally was able to win £40k which allowed him to invest in additional tooling to expand the product range and expand his team by hiring a new employee. Ally has since grown the business further by securing contracts with 90 retail stockists internationally, from Shetland to Japan, and now has a range of pots and saucers in four colours. More recently, he has finalised a contract with Bloom and Wild, which has taken Ocean Plastic Pots turnover to almost £150k in the first year, having started on a market stall as little as 18months before.
Business Gateway is continuing to support Ally as he develops his strategy for growth. This has included connecting the business to its wider support network, including contacts at Zero Waste Scotland. This will give Ally the opportunity to further develop his supply chain in how he acquires his materials and find more ways to embed circularity into his business model.
Ocean Plastic Pots also received support from DigitalBoost, Scotland’s national digital up skilling programme, delivered by Business Gateway. Through DigitalBoost, Ally was able to access advice on digital marketing which created substantial efficiencies in his website.
Ally Mitchell, Founder, Ocean Plastic Pots said: “The support provided by the advisers at Business Gateway has been instrumental in the growth of Ocean Plastic Pots. Starting your own business can be lonely at the beginning and Business Gateway was a great help to me, acting as a sounding board throughout the challenging early stages. They helped me to focus and target my time and effort more efficiently, and ensured I was prepared for the pitch to ScottishEDGE.
“Since then, Ocean Plastic Pots has gone from strength to strength. We won RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s first ever Sustainable Garden Product of the Year Award as well as the Product of the Year Award. We have continued to build on this success with our partnership with Bloom and Wild, Europe’s largest flower provider.”
Karine Burns, adviser, Business Gateway, said: “Ally is passionate about the environment, our oceans and marine life, ultimately this passion and the determination to create an circular product is what sets Ocean Plastic Pots apart for other products in the market. This passion shines through in everything Ally does rewarding to see his success. It is also great to see business innovatively operating in an environmentally friendly way. At Business Gateway we have a brilliant network of contacts for those who wish to immerse themselves in sustainable business.
“Ally made full use of the diverse support provided by the Business Gateway services and we would encourage all businesses and aspiring business owners to reaching out to see how we can help.”