Supporting Irish business is a passion of ours at IMAGE and it's easy with so many entrepreneurial and innovative Irish businesses to buy from. From now until Christmas we are highlighting Irish businesses or business people that we are excited about. Today it's GIOP Straws. They are a zero-emissions, 100% natural, sustainable and biodegradable handmade grass straw business. They increase in strength when they come in contact with liquids and are compostable, ocean-friendly and reusable up to 15 times. They're the necessary addition to your Christmas cocktail, and you'll find them in loads of incredible Irish businesses, bars, cafes and hotels like The Happy Pear and 'Ohana Tiki Bar. We had a chat with Mark Crowe, the founder of GIOP Straws, about the year his company has had and the willingness of the Irish public to make a more sustainable switch.
What is your name, and what is your business?
Mark Crowe, the founder of GIOP Straws. GIOP stands for 'Grass Instead of Plastic.'
How long have you been in business? And what was your mission from the outset?
We have been working on GIOP for the past three years. We launched in Ireland just before Covid-19 hit at the start of this year. It certainly has been an interesting time to start a business but we have taken on the challenge! Our mission from the outset was and still is to help Ireland get to a greener place one straw at a time. We also want to help re-educate people about the disastrous effects that plastic is wreaking on our planet and to shed some light on the harmful alternatives that are flooding the market, like paper straws.
Of what part of your business are you most proud?
Our product has a lot of USP’s and really stands out from other straws in the market. We put years of work into sourcing the best product and ensuring GIOP straws meet all standards and regulations required for the Irish and European market. Successfully bringing this straw to market has definitely been our proudest moment. When we see people using our straws in well-known Irish businesses like The Happy Pear who have made the switch to GIOP straws, they really are ‘pinch yourself’ moments.
Who are your business heroes?
In terms of a business hero, I am a big fan of Timothy Ferriss who has a great outlook on how to prioritise finding the balance between your professional and personal life. Personal heroes include my parents and I also look up to a lot of my friends who have also set up their own businesses and are managing to continue trading through these unprecedented times.
How have you found the last six months professionally and personally?
Challenging to say the least but we are a positive team so when Covid hit we had to adapt our business model, which was predominately geared towards the hospitality industry, and launched our retail packs online which thankfully received an amazing reaction.
What keeps you positive?
Every straw we switch to grass is a step closer to a greener Ireland and a more sustainable planet for the future. Having a part to play in changing how we all think about sustainable alternatives to the current plastic epidemic keeps us very motivated and positive. Seeing the positive reaction from the public to GIOP straws has given us confidence that Ireland is ready to make positive changes that will ultimately make our country more sustainable.
What new perspective have you gained from 2020?
Even though 2020 has been a strange year, to say the least, we have been blown away by the Irish public’s willingness to support Irish businesses and to champion the ‘sustainable movement.’ Their support has kept us going over the past few months and we are so grateful!
Best/worst moment from 2020?
Best moment would have to be launching at the start of the year and working with amazing stockists like The Happy Pear and many others making the final switch to grass. In terms of the worst moment, I suppose we would have to say that Covid-19 threw us an unexpected curveball at the start of our business launch which caused us to rethink our whole business model.
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How will you celebrate the holidays this year?
This year will be spent with my family in Kildare.
Another Irish business you want to shine a spotlight on?
Storeen.ie, an Irish owned concept store showcasing a considered curation of quirky homewares. Check it out for stunning wallpapers, furniture and lighting that will add character to any interior!
Anything else you would like to let us know?
We truly believe we have a product that can once and for all end the questions around drinking straws. Choose grass instead of plastic this Christmas. Our Gift Boxes are available for a perfect stocking filler this year for only €4.99.
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