Provided by: CANVAS REBEL MAGAZINE
We were lucky to catch up with Helena Silva recently and have shared our conversation below.
Helena, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. What’s the backstory behind how you came up with the idea for your business?
It all started with a diaper bag! The first time I became a parent, I had a difficult time finding eco-friendly and stylish products, including a diaper bag. Everything out there had bunnies, teddy-bears, and was made from toxic materials. Years later, when I became pregnant with my second child, I still felt frustrated. The designs were nicer but still made from materials that were not only toxic but harsh on the environment such as leather and PVC. So, I decided to design my own “diaper bag” made from Cork, one of the most sustainable and natural materials in the world.
I had the opportunity to grow up in Portugal, the biggest producer of cork. So, I contacted a small factory there and soon after received my first bag sample. I immediately fell in love with it but most importantly so did my friends, colleagues and random women who would stop me inquiring about it. Today, it is our best-selling tote that serves much more than being a diaper bag. It is my go-to work bag because of the easiness of keeping everything organized. Soon, other styles and accessories came into development and BENT&BREE was born inspired by love, nature and desire to preserve our planet.
Creating amazing products that don’t harm our precious ones or the planet was our goal. Therefore; we embraced cork because it is one of the most versatile and sustainable materials in the world. All our collections are handcrafted from cork, which is vegan, recyclable, and reusable contributing to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable society. Extracted from the bark of the cork oak, it is the only tree whose bark regenerates itself after each harvest (9 years).
– Water- resistant
– Easy to clean
Helena, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I’ve always had a keen eye for business. I majored in marketing and got my MBA with the objective of starting my business one day. Having my own business provided me with the opportunity to concentrate on my family. It gave me the flexibility and independence that I always wanted.
Initially, we started by attending small local events and trade shows. I still remember the day that we got our first order and the joy felt! Today, we still participate in these events because we love the interaction with customers. This allows us to design and develop better styles. It’s quite satisfying to know that our brand can be found in several boutiques throughout the country.
We originally launched 2016 with handbags and jewelry. Today, we have expanded into home accessories, focusing more on the hospitality industry. We are on a mission to substitute all that is plastic with cork! Many of our designs include ice buckets, serving trays, tissue box holders and trash bins can be found in hotels and restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.
Our corporate gift/incentive offering has also expanded and continues to thrive as many companies are focused on sustainability. We have the capability of doing custom logo printing on our accessories which become amazing and memorable gifts.
Do you sell on your site, or do you use a platform like Amazon, Etsy, Cratejoy, etc?
BENT&BREE collections can be found on our website, bentandbree.com. This is our main platform of selling and the one we dedicate most time and funds to. I still remember the first time it went live and I thought we would be bombarded with orders immediately. We had produced more quantity than necessary and soon learned that there was a lot more to it. Since then, we have improved the visuals, the customer user flow, SEOs and invested in some advertising. It certainly is an ongoing process but it is important to build brand trust and feel.
We can also be found on Etsy. Many of our initial customers would always ask if we were on Etsy more so than if we had a website. Therefore; we decided to also create a profile and feature most of our top selling items along with collections that we are discontinuing. We also like to advertise on Etsy because it is so affordable and we believe that it actually brings traffic to our main website.
We’ve been approached by many Amazon brokers wanting to carry our items on Amazon. I was never a fan because when I worked in corporate and sold to major and smaller retailers they would be hesitant buying if the product was on Amazon. This of course was when Amazon was extremely competitive and had the lowest prices. This is not the case anymore so we have become more open to entering this platform and will most likely consider it for 2023.
Our brand can also be found on QVC.com, one of the largest home shopping networks. This presence has certainly provided brand awareness since the reach is so vast. We’ve been solid but as a small company we are competing with other established brands.
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
We launched in 2016 and since then, we have proudly built a strong network of customers, clients, vendors, and business partners. The consistency in quality, innovated designs and attention to our customers’ needs has helped us build an image of trust and expertise.
Despite being a small company, we function like a large corporation with the capability of working on complex designs and projects especially now that we are focusing more on business to business. We’re excited to be working more with the hospitality industry that are concentrating on sustainability and looking for our sustainable accessories.
- Website: https://bentandbree.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bentandbree/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bentandbree/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/bent-&-bree-llc/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/BentandBree
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJGD_3I8YG9AB6RYazi8iSQ
Article courtesy of CANVAS REBEL MAGAZINE