Q&A with Entrepreneur, Helen Andrew
In between being a full-time mother and tending to her garden, Helen works on developing Spare Harvest so that valuable food and garden resources are diverted away from landfills and not wasted. Helen believes that if we can continue to circulate what we no longer need in our communities, we will enhance the well-being of the planet and it’s people. Spare Harvest works on the premise that your trash is someone else’s treasure. Spare Harvest helps you find each other. Helen’s vision is that we all waste less and share more.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
Over ten years ago I left my corporate job to be a full-time mother to Alesya and Jaryd. It was difficult, but in time, I came to accept my new life and found being a mum one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have ever had. Now that my children are older I wanted something more for me. Something that challenged me in other ways and connected me to something bigger and purposeful.
What inspired you to start your business?
When we moved to the Sunshine Coast, I wanted to start growing our own food and purchased a home with some established fruit trees. After a couple of months, the flowers started to set fruit, and I realized we had three mandarin trees, a lemon tree, a kumquat tree, and a tangelo tree. For very old trees they produced such an abundance that I had trouble using all the fruit. I tried to share it with my network, but many of them also had too much fruit and didn’t want my excess. I finished the season burying the excess into the ground which broke my heart. This experience was the inspiration for me to find a way to connect with people I did not know and share my abundance. Spare Harvest was born.
Where is your business based?
The operational base for Spare Harvest is on the Sunshine Coast, but all the connecting and sharing happens in homes and gardens in local communities.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
Ihad a problem, knew the solution but did not know how to go about building the solution. It was not until I had a meeting with a young man by the name Nick who volunteered to help me build a website. When I left my job to have my children, there was no such thing as social media, no sharing economy, and no WordPress. So with limited tech skills, confidence and money, Nick and I created the first version of Spare Harvest.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
We have grown through word of mouth mainly due to limited funds. This strategy is working because we are attracting people who connect with our approach to building an online community that is committed to wasting less and sharing more.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Initially, it was confidence; having the confidence to share my idea, to ask for help and to start sharing Spare Harvest with strangers. The challenge now is educating people, that just because you no longer need something that it is not waste. Someone else in your community will use it.
How do you stay focused?
Ensuring every decision is aligned with our purpose. I stay focused by asking the following question - are we creating a world that wastes less and shares more?
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
We are building a community. Our focus is not on the resources it is on the people and how we build local connections. We are about conversations, not transactions. The more people we can connect the bigger the impact we make.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Word of mouth.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Focus on the 5P’s - Purpose, people, passion, persistence and patience.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
I love books, and one of my favorites is Start With Why by Simon Sinek.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
Most valuable resource is my phone. With all the apps available, including the Spare Harvest app, I can manage Spare Harvest while I am in the community.
Who is your business role model? Why?
I don’t have a role model. I get asked this question a bit, and every time I struggle to answer it. I am influenced and inspired by people’s stories.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
To continue to grow Spare Harvest to ensure we keep valuable food and garden resources out of the landfill and in our community.
How can our readers connect with you?