Londoner Tara Button proves that side projects can become full time gigs. She launched pioneering website BuyMeOnce.com in 2013 plugging away in the evenings when not working her advertising day job.
In January 2016, the only website to curate "the world's best and longest lasting sustainable products available on the market" finally launched. Almost immediately, BuyMeOnce.com went viral.
After the site’s media success, Tara promptly quit her advertising job to pursue her purpose: helping to save the planet.
So how did an unknown website garner so much press coverage when scores of entrepreneurs and business owners throw hundreds if not tens of thousands of dollars on marketing campaigns hoping for virality, but never coming close to BuyMeOnce's level of PR success? CEO and founder Tara Button explains:
[It] went viral purely by chance. A friend of my literary agent's assistant was browsing Twitter and came across me and asked if I wanted any press. I didn't feel quite ready to launch but you don't turn down an article in the Telegraph when it's offered.
Dedication and hard work are necessary ingredients in the recipe for business success, but adding some timing and luck makes it an unbeatable combination.
"Once the Telegraph article came out it then went viral on Facebook and other media channels and newspapers started to cover the story," explains Tara. When you garner press attention from the Guardian, Daily Mail, Forbes, Time, Reuters and CNBC, you're almost assured success.
The idea even piqued the interest of serial Silicon Valley investor Ashton Kutcher, who declared his love for the idea behind the website on popular photo-sharing app Instagram.
How a career in advertising triggered this green business idea
Advertising as we know is much to blame for the modern wasteful consumer lifestyle that is prevalent in 'free market' societies. If you follow the industry's history back to its roots, you come to learn that it actually began a century ago when psychoanalyst Edward Bernays capitalised on his uncle Sigmund Freud's psychology theories in order to manipulate human behaviour, sell ideas and products, and push propaganda under the guise of 'public relations'.
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind." - Edward Bernays in his 1928 book, Propaganda.
Today, the influential work of Edward Bernays - often referred to as "the father of public relations" - has helped to drive consumer demand for products that needn't be purchased creating the product-saturated advertising-driven wasteful world we live in. So was working in advertising - an industry built on wasteful consumption driven by trends and disposability - the trigger for launching BuyMeOnce? Tara admits that it was.
"[Working in advertising] was the trigger. One of my clients was Le Creuset that sell products that are built to last a lifetime. I thought "Everything in my life should be like this".
And then I started to think about the environmental implications of buying things for life and I thought, "Someone really should do this - set up a site with all the longest lasting things." After putting it off for a while, I realised that that person should be me.
Since the groundbreaking startup's launch in January 2016, BuyMeOnce.com has firmly established itself as the leading curated e-commerce website serving customers who want to purchase long-lasting and sustainable products. "Our job here is to find them and bring them all together," explains Tara. "We want to make buying things that are built to last easy so we use our technology to connect the makers and manufacturers of these wonderful products with customers in the UK, US and around the world.”
At a time where many businesses looking to attract the millennial buy-in claim to want to "help customers save time and money and help them lower their environmental footprint", walking the talk proves more difficult. Not so for advertising professional turned green campaigner Tara Button:
"I'm currently writing a book about the BuyMeOnce philosophy and you'll see in that that I lay a lot of the problems of consumer behaviour squarely in the lap of marketers. Advertisers are just one part of the big machine but they are a very affective part when it comes to increasing profits by manipulating the minds of the masses. I have started to campaign within the advertising world to bring more of a conscience to advertising."
Many people who work in the industry feel helpless (as I did). They do their jobs for the clients who pay them. I'm trying to persuade them to go out and find people they feel are worthy of being advertised and try to help them.
On 10th April 2017, BuyMeOnce.com will reveal a new look website offering over 1000 products across multiple sectors, including kitchen utensils and appliances, clothing, footwear, toys, tools and more.
All products stocked are tested for durability and longevity, having rightfully earned their place on the website following extensive and rigorous research. All products have one thing in common: they are products designed and built to last, so that you should only have to buy once. In other words, a big middle finger to the concept of planned obsolescence which is increasingly in-built into products to keep people on the consumer treadmill.
Some of the exciting products offered on the website include:
Fisher space pen (with enough ink to last a lifetime)
Solidteknics pans (built to last for centuries)
Darn Tough socks (the world’s most hard wearing socks with a lifetime guarantee)
Davek umbrellas (classically styled and backed up by an unconditional lifetime guarantee)
Million mile light (a running light that needs no batteries)
L'ecrevable (a French washing machine manufacturer developing a 50-year guaranteed machine)
The new website will also include a plethora of articles featuring expert tips and advice on how you can make things last.
Next month, Tara will launch a Change.org petition that requires manufacturers to certify how long their products actually last, reaffirming again her total commitment to the environment.
If its promises are anything to go by, then the goods purchased off of the BuyMeOnce website represents the last time a person will ever need to go shopping for that particular item. This is the most unique value proposition from a sustainable business to date. Well done BuyMeOnce!
To learn more about CEO and Founder Tara Button, or to shop the sustainable product range, visit the BuyMeOnce website here.
We want to know: Have you purchased an item from BuyMeOnce.com? What was your experience like? We'd love to hear your stories, so make sure to leave a comment on this post!
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