"I think [sustainability] used to be a niche in the past and seen to be 'eco-nerdy' but now sustainable luxury aligns itself as something more professional."
Lilli Green is a German company looking to provide eco-friendly designs for sustainable living. The business consists of a furniture and lifestyle shop as well as an online blog intended to discuss new entrepreneurial ideas across the industry. Lilli Green stocks a variety of brands supplying ecological furniture from bamboo stalls to fairtrade palmwood baskets. To find out more, our reporter Emily O’Dowd interviewed the company’s Sustainable Design Expert, Frans Prins who argues that the sustainable/bio-based industry is about to experience great growth.
Emily O’Dowd (EOD): Would you be able to give a little more insight into the Lilli Green blog and why it was originally set up?
Frans Prins (FP): The company ( @lilligreen ) started with a blog, and soon afterwards was extended with a shop. Over the last years, the shop was the companies main focus. Since I joined the blog a year ago, it has provided a new objective for the company and we have found that it appeals to a bigger audience than the store does alone. As a result, new ideas are being presented all the time. There are of course, many aspects that need to be developed but the main concept is working well for us.
We hope that through our blog, we will present more opportunities to respond to our society’s waste and reveal that there are many opportunities to change things. Rather than criticising the way things are done now, we need to focus on how we can make it better. There is too much waste and more people are beginning to realise this. Additionally, the emerging issue is the amount of bad quality products on the market, so oil based products aren’t always the most effective! It means that I can see real potential in this space and the circular economy.
EOD: Can you tell me a bit more about your store in Germany?
FP: We have one shop based in Germany but we also ship to Austria and Switzerland. At the moment, we are focused primarily on the German market and have plans to extend but not just yet. The shop was created just after the blog and both run relatively independent from each other.
EOD: What do you enjoy most about your role at Lilli Green?
FP: For me, it has to be learning the rich research for many different topics within the industry. The sustainable design space covers such a broad range of things from architecture to materials, products and make-up - there is so much potential here! I think it used to be a niche in the past and seen to be “eco-nerdy” but now sustainable luxury aligns itself as something more professional.
EOD: How do you keep competitive?
FP: The easy part lies in the fact that we are very different in what we do, but I think the real question is how to stay competitive when sustainability becomes part of the mass market. Larger companies are starting to adopt sustainable practices and values and soon enough it will be a lot harder. However, our core principles will always remain the same.
EOD: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in the industry?
FP: I would argue that we have taken a lead so far in the industry, but we aren’t under any illusions because it is a hard industry to be involved in. Despite this, sustainability is the buzz word that acts as a unique selling point for what we do. In fact, most of the challenges have arisen from the general running of a business rather than challenges linked to sustainability.
EOD: How is Germany responding to the bio-based industry?
FP: The consumer’s mind is more ahead than we think and people are a lot more engaged with bio-based issues because they are conscious of their lifestyles. But in what areas are we going to see this change? The main focus at the moment lies with food and organic supermarkets, so I think it’s a matter of when we will see this engagement spread out to living, design products, furniture, etc. I have noticed that young people are also getting involved too. For this reason I hold a positive view and see that there is no way back now - we can only go forwards.
EOD: How do you maintain strategic pricing?
FP: We focus on providing a high-quality product which does not directly compete with cheaper products. It definitely helps if our customers are interested and believe in our background story. Through the blog, we try to have direct contact with our customers which means we have a lot of respect for our products. Whilst our glass bottles are €25 they are designed to be different and last longer; we want to ensure that our consumer feel like they are making the best decisions for the environment.
EOD: Where do you hope to see Lilli Green in five years’ time?
FP: I would love to extend our product range so that there is more stock in our shop. For the Lilli Green blog it would be great to expand into a regularly online magazine with high qualitative articles and multiple editors.
EOD: What is your favourite sustainable product?
FP: When I buy clothes I want to know exactly where and how it has been produced. In example Knowledge Cotton Apparel or Kings of Indigo are fashionable clothing brands that care about planet and people, too.
Our last 5 minutes with... Reimer Ivang, Co-Founder and CEO of Better World Fashion.
Bio-Based World News will bring this 5 minute feature to our readers every week. This will able to put a face to the brand and provide established businesses and new start-ups the crucial advise they need in this industry. If you would like to be interviewed about your own bio-based/sustainable business then please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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