As the editor of BossBabe, I have the privilege of interviewing some of the most inspiring and resilient female entrepreneurs on the planet and share their insights with thousands of others.
This article is one of those interviews and it is the story of an entrepreneur who has overcome countless setbacks, defeats, and failures to tell this story.
In 2012, Amanda Buckingham was driven by the need to create a product that would revolutionize her industry and give back to the planet. Her story begins with the borrowing of money from her family, the sale of her own family home and the sale of her award-winning salon, all to fund the development and launch of her product, her dream. Intertwined in her story is the incarceration of her then business partner, the legal mess that followed and the rebrand and relaunch, which almost killed her dream.
It reads like a movie script and most people would have given up but not Amanda.
A mother of three who has won countless awards, as both an educator for hairdressers and as a personal stylist, realized how much waste she was creating with aluminum foils when colouring her client’s hair. Aluminum foil which is deposited straight into landfill sites is one of the most wasteful and toxic products to produce and recycle on the planet. Amanda saw an opportunity to create a reusable, recyclable, fully bio-degradable foil that could be manufactured with a zero carbon footprint.
Paper Not Foil was born.
“I decided to make a change. A change that would make an impact on helping our industry to be more sustainable, environmentally friendly and have a responsible choice on the market worldwide, however, I didn’t know how hard it was going to be,” said Amanda.
The product development started in 2012 and nearly two years later, the first iteration of Paper was almost ready for market. At the end of the development phase, she partnered with a long-term colleague and a trusted friend of eight years. Together they began the manufacturing and distribution of her reusable, recyclable paper foils branded as “ONE”. The business started well, the response from the market was one of appreciation and excitement, salons started to adopt the product and orders poured in.
In early 2016, sales had stagnated and communications between Amanda and her business partner had become strained. Her business partner and effective C.E.O of the company had been working on cutting Amanda out of the company by.replicating the product and plagiarizing key I.P. of the product design. The issues came to light on top of another embezzlement scandal that her partner was involved in and as a result, he was imprisoned taking both the brand and business with him.
At the end of 2016, Amanda was left with a raw product and facing the reality that her product and dream might be just that. She had lost 4 years of hard work, her family home, their life savings and no income to fall back on.
That was the point in time, most people would call, “the end”.
Going back to her roots and starting again or “grinding” as we all know it, Amanda picked up a job as a stylist, scrimping and saving along with a personal loan, she began the rebranding process and launched under the brand name Paper Not Foil.
Fast forward to today her product is now stocked in over 100 salons across Australia and New Zealand, distributed by two companies internationally and most importantly driving change that her industry has desperately needed.
Here is what I learned from Amanda’s incredible story that can help others who are struggling through their journey.
Create a belief that is not only tied to making money but helping others.
You have to believe in what you’re doing and that what you have is going to help both people now and people in the future. For Amanda, she couldn’t turn her back on something that had the ability to do so much good for so many people not just in her industry but also outside of it.
“The product is just going to do so much good and I calculated that most salons here in New Zealand go through an average of 1.5 KM of tin foil every month which is just so much toxic waste. I couldn’t deal with the knowledge that my industry was doing this much damage to the planet and I had to act even if it was going to cost me time, money and sometimes my sanity,” shared Amanda.
“My goal in five years from now is to be able to walk into 1 in 5 salons and they have chosen to make a difference by using Papernotfoil instead of Aluminium or Plastic. Then I know I’ve made a difference x”
Regardless of the industry, you’re in if you’re able to tie your actions to improve the needs of others this will dramatically increase your ability to continue onwards in spite of obstacles.
Amanda taught me that her conviction and strength of belief came from the idea that she was able to help others and this is something that can motivate all of us.
As people, we’re here to look after one another and by knowing that you have others that are depending on you makes it easier to overcome setbacks and the trials that often come with trying to create something better for yourself and those around you.
The story of Paper Not Foil and Amanda’s journey shows us that failure is an opportunity to start again and that as humans we’re here to help one another and that is a driving force that can never be taken away.