The co-founders of The Zero Waste Company say they are “heartbroken” after taking the decision earlier this month to close the doors of their Tunbridge Wells-based store and cafe.
Announcing their decision on Instagram, Holly Watson and Charlotte Bowyer, said: “We have fought and fought for so long to keep our business going, but have had to finally admit defeat for the sake of our staff, our families and honestly, for our mental wellbeing.”
The pair opened their store in late 2019, just weeks before the country went into its first lockdown, which created a “challenge of epic proportions”, not least because of the very hands-on nature of the zero waste and refill model.
Despite building a loyal customer base, and changing their business model a number of times, in the end a perfect storm of circumstances – most beyond their control – meant that Watson and Bower couldn’t see how they get the numbers to add up. “We have had to face more and more challenges with a war, petrol crisis, energy crisis and now a cost of living crisis. Faced with a rise in our business rates and the doubling of our energy bill this year, our small business just isn’t viable.
“Running a bricks and mortar business in this current climate takes balls of steel. It is hard. It is exhausting. It takes everything out of you”
“It hurts more than we can say, but we have voluntarily made this decision as we understand our position is unlikely to improve. And it’s not just us. Now is the time to show your love and support to your local independents. Running a bricks and mortar business in this current climate takes balls of steel. It is hard. It is exhausting. It takes everything out of you. What makes it worthwhile are the customers. That’s you guys. If you love somewhere, please show them and go there.
“We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved: Zero was created from our blood, sweat and tears, but mainly our love. We want to end by sending our heartfelt love and thanks to our amazing team. They will be feeling this loss just as we are and we couldn’t have asked for more love and support from them over the last couple of years.”
Gallery: The Zero Waste Company in its first iteration, in December 2019