…Discuss the importance of lifelong products. Choose 1 quality item over 10 cheap options that will end up in a landfill. Start this tradition around birthday’s and the holidays.
As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Hon.
Stephanie Hon is the CEO and Founder of Cadence, the first magnetic and refillable capsule made from recycled ocean bound plastic that is designed to effortlessly move with you no matter where life takes you.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Your brand story is so inspiring. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started cadence because I needed cadence. I invested so much time and energy into my personal care routine — items that I curated to cater to my individual and specific hair, skin, and body. Anytime I tried to bring my products out of home, whether for a weekend away, day-out, etc. I would have to carry heavy bags; sacrifice products that made me feel good and deal with leaking products. Overall it was a chaotic, stressful, and negative experience — far from the joyful, peaceful, mindful moment our personal care routine is supposed to give us. I wanted to build something that worked, and that acknowledged me as an individual.
Can you share with our readers, what the mission of Cadence is and what problems you are aiming to solve?
Cadence’s mission is to eliminate single-use travel-sized products by creating a sustainable, refillable, portable personal care system — making the sustainable choice the best choice, always. The negative impact of the portable personal care industry has largely been ignored, and without significant disruption, roughly 9 billion single-use plastic travel bottles and 6 billion silicone travel bottles will end up on beaches and in landfills in our lifetime — and that’s in addition to what’s already there. The average consumer buys and throws away 6 refillable bottles and/or single-use travel-sized products per year. The same way we went from single-use water bottles to reusable water bottles is exactly what we’re doing for the personal care and wellness space. Better for the earth, and a better way to keep your cadence.
What initiatives are you and Cadence utilizing to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?
One, we use post-consumer material in our products. We partner with Envision Plastics, which partners with local beach communities across the globe, paying locals fair wages to collect plastic off beaches. For background, 80% of plastic on beaches ends up in the ocean, and we aim to shut off the faucet instead of trying to collect the water. We mix recycled ocean-bound plastic with regrind from our manufacturing process and then add in new material so our products are as durable as possible. We are constantly innovating, and just made our first piece of the product completely out of recycled ocean-bound plastic.
Two, the durability of our products. You go from landfill to lifelong with cadence. We’re taking a product that on average gets bought and thrown out 6 times per year, and we’ve turned it into something that lasts as long as your Hydroflask, S’well, or Nalgene.
Three, open-source our sustainable supplier information to our fellow startup community. We want to encourage our audience and new brands to reach out and ask good questions. Back when I started — I reached out to multiple sustainable brands asking where they got their sustainable packaging (box, shipping labels, etc.) and no one would give me a lead or a straight answer. We give identities to our products through our brand, and sharing resources should be given. If you look at Tesla or feature Animation Studios they all share open source technology. Just because Disney has the same software as Sony doesn’t mean they’re going to create the same movie.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or an example?
We’re a super lean team, so we’ve managed to reach profitability despite launching February 2020 into the global pandemic. While many e-commerce businesses might have seen a boom, as a company centered around being on the move we had to dive into what we had: authenticity (and organization). We have always been as transparent as possible to our early community, and feel it’s important to share insights into our team, company, and sustainability process. Our entire company is built on the foundation of quality, and constantly looking to improve — and we’re lucky enough to have a community who appreciates that. We’re doing more than just checking off that “sustainability box,” and our community invests in us because at the end of the day everyone wants products that do what they say they’re going to do, and are made sustainably.
The youth-led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.
Get your kiddo to compost.
Discuss the importance of lifelong products. Choose 1 quality item over 10 cheap options that will end up in a landfill. Start this tradition around birthday’s and the holidays.
Have fun cutting up old clothing to use as dishtowels.
Reusable bags are more fun — and better for the world!
Talk to your kids about why those choices are important.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Finds other founders to lean on — they will be some of the only people in your life who understand what you are doing and going through.
Get an executive assistant to help with your inbox early on — you need to outsource small things that take up a lot of time.
The outcome is more important than the feeling of making the decision. Make sure to not cut off your nose despite your face.
People are so different. Figure out what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are.
Unless it’s launch week, try not to stay up until 4 am because you got inspired. Tends to happen, but as a founder, you’re number one job is a decision-maker. You need a clear mind to make the best decisions and be the most patient leader possible.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful to many people. One person who comes to mind is my investor/friend Shreya. I met her while I was tabling at a rock-climbing gym. She immediately fell in love with the product, and we met up for coffee a while later. Turns out she was deeply embedded into the startup community and was able to help me learn the (critical) ropes. She asked for nothing in return — this is a perfect example of helping to level the playing field.
You are a person of influence and are doing amazing things for our world. So, if you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?
So kind of you! Oh man. Lending a helping hand expecting nothing in return. If we all did that, we’d have more founders, more incredible (and sustainable) businesses. This type of thing changes your life.
Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
My team will tell you that my mantra is “make the impossible possible”. If we got a human on the moon, perform brain surgery, and have electric cars, then there is always a way to make things happen.