Business Spotlights: reuzi

Business spotlight - Pat Kane

From an award-winning store to a hub for environmental living and awareness

After becoming a mother for the first time, the founder of reuzi, Pat Kane, began to notice the amount of rubbish we go through each day rising at an alarming rate. Her initial reaction was to educate herself and her family on composting and recycling

However, after a few months, she realised that there were better solutions than these practices. She realised that we need to address the thoughtless consumption of single-use and disposable materials. 

This philosophy and mission led to the birth of reuzi, an award-winning business that has quickly evolved into becoming a hub for environmental living and awareness. Pat says: “reuzi was born sustainable, so sustainability principles are part of everything we do, from selecting a new supplier to shipping an order to a customer.”

While Pat still drives reuzi to success, she has since gotten involved in other ventures. These include writing and speaking opportunities but primarily, working closely with SMEs and large corporations on how to improve their green credentials. reuzi exists in the real and virtual worlds, with pop-ups, in-store concessions, and a busy online presence. 

Together with her team, Pat works very hard to source and curate sustainable products to improve the lives of reuzi customers in an environmentally conscious way. She says: “My mission is to inspire and empower individuals and businesses to drive positive impact through a wide offering of high-quality, sustainable products.” 

Challenges faced along the way

All businesses face challenges, but sustainability-focused enterprises face some unique ones as they work to drive impact whilst generating profits. Pat explains: “Our key challenge has always been what I have been calling the ‘value-action gap’.”

“This gap is the space that occurs when the values (personal and cultural) or attitudes of an individual do not correlate to their actions. The reasons are many, but price range, convenience, and accessibility are some of the main ones.”

Pat shares that by associating with larger retailers such as Brown Thomas, Arnotts and most recently, Kilkenny Design nationwide, reuzi has been able to reach larger audiences. Pat adds: “This will hopefully share the message better that accessible and affordable options are already on shelves.” 

Harnessing the 3 P’s to seamlessly embed sustainability

reuzi has strived to be as sustainable as possible since its inception. Pat emphasises the importance of the 3 P’s – People, Planet, and Profit – in enabling her to seamlessly embed sustainability into her business model. 

Pat explains: “For example, we support and promote the local economy. We actively choose to work with Irish suppliers and distributors, and 80 percent of our suppliers are local.” 

She adds: “Our suppliers must deliver on their sustainability promises, and an Integrity Questionnaire has been put in place to ensure we understand their ways of working and can regularly follow up on each promise.” 

Another crucial sustainability initiative of reuzi’s is the refusal to use any plastic. Online is a key revenue stream at reuzi, but they have not buckled under the pressure. reuzi has a strict package-free shipping policy. 

Pat says: “We ship everything 100 percent plastic-free in an upcycled or 100 percent post-consumer box with paper filler and paper tape. Our shipping materials are 100 percent recyclable and compostable. We’ve partnered with Dundrum Town Centre and a few other independent shops to reuse no longer-needed boxes and general packaging materials.” 

reuzi works hard to ensure their pricing is competitive even when comparing themselves to supermarket chains. To achieve highly competitive pricing, they work with suppliers on minimum order quantities and how often orders are placed, allowing them to keep low costs, satisfactory margins, and, of course, happy customers. 

Leveraging education to stay ahead of the curve

Pat also stresses the pivotal role of sustainability education and its potential to overcome barriers. She explains: “Sustainability is an ever-evolving subject, and to keep ourselves up to speed on what’s happening out there is key! Our way to do that is to ensure that we participate in different groups, NGOs, and industry events as well as continuously seeking formal education, be it through short courses and workshops, or longer programmes.” 

She feels education is key in any organisation’s sustainability journey but also that it is easier than ever now to learn thanks to education related to sustainability being widely available. Pat’s next steps with reuzi surround becoming B Corp certified. While the process is laborious, she knows it’ll be a worthwhile step. 

Pat says: “We are going through the application and working on any gaps we may encounter. We want our customers and beyond to be sure that the team at reuzi are doing all they can to operate the most sustainable business possible.”

For other businesses ready to start on their sustainability journey or currently immersed and facing challenges, Pat’s advice is to start where you are and not compare your journey to others. She says: “Benchmarking is always a good thing, but we can’t forget that different organisations face varying challenges.”

“Put a Green Team in place and establish key priorities for the coming sixth months. As these priorities are achieved, add more tasks to your list. Remember, if you’re unsure, ask for help; there is plenty of support and many strategists (like me!) who can help you kickstart your journey. Inertia is the enemy!”. 

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