On the 10th of September 2019, the Lochtree website went live and we opened our digital doors. A year has passed and I can confidently say it has been one for the history books. It has been an incredible year to open a business with some fantastic peaks and a lot of new and uncharted territory.
To mark our first anniversary, I thought I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to reflect on the past year and share, from my perspective, how our first year in business has taken shape.
Building A Marketplace for Eco-Friendly Products
From the outset, the concept behind Lochtree was incredibly simple: to build a convenient marketplace for eco-friendly and sustainable products while giving back to the environment.
That was it. We wanted to set consumers up for success by doing the legwork for them, building a value-based organization to provide quality products that reduce waste. From there, we began to use this platform as a vehicle to support meaningful change and generate a positive environmental impact.
Bringing a Fresh Perspective
I have always felt that sustainable living and connecting with nature often gets a bad rap. In many people’s minds, adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle requires a massive sacrifice - move off the grid, don a pair of dusty flip-flops, and shower sparingly.
I’ve never bought into this type of thinking. Instead, I believe that reducing our carbon footprint, treading lightly as we pass through the world, and preserving this planet for future generations is a noble aspiration. Lochtree has come out of my determination to show that this is possible.
As a business, we weren’t going to lead with guilt-trips or calls to sacrifice. Rather, we work to illustrate the benefits and value to both the consumer and the world. We wanted to take a fresh approach to sustainability and build a new and different type of company. That was our goal - simple to articulate, a challenge to execute.
An Ever-Changing Landscape
One of the most impactful lessons I received in grad school was to be aware of the ever-changing landscape in business. The moment you begin to understand and get a handle on the environment, it changes. I am not sure this has ever been more true than over the last twelve months. As Lochtree launched, Greta Thunberg was filling headlines across the globe and helping to mobilize a new generation of environmental activists and bring incredible awareness to the threat of climate change. As we watched, we thought: what an awesome moment - this is big.
Then the Brazilizan rainforest - the earth's lungs - caught on fire. This resulted in massive devastation to one of our environment's most vital ecosystems. Out came new headlines and growing awareness and concern. Next up, the Australian bushfires. Twelve million acres of burnt earth and another ecosystem badly scarred.
We were already on a rollercoaster of a year with multiple unprecedented events - but we were not done yet.
While the embers in Australia began to settle, Covid-19 came onto the scene - a global pandemic. What was this and how was it going to change our lives? At the time, we scarcely could have imagined. Nine months later we are still struggling as a global community to get our heads around Covid-19, recover from the colossal loss of life, and adapt to a new normal.
Ongoing Challenges, Future Hopes
As I sit here today to write, California is battling the largest wildfires the state has ever recorded and we still have two months remaining of fire season.
Each of these events over the past year has had a significant and lasting impact on our world. And what a year 2020 has been. Would it have been more comfortable to start a business another year? Absolutely. But as I reflect on the year gone by and the world that Lochtree entered into, I believe more than ever that our mission is vital.
If Lochtree can play a small role in raising awareness and help consumers reduce their impact to preserve the world for future generations, then we have been a success. So as we continue to look forward, Lochtree will continue to be mindful of the landscape and how quickly our world is evolving.
Developing Partnerships for the Future
We knew when we started the year that a core part of Lochtree’s mission would be to help support positive environmental initiatives. We knew we had some serious homework and a lot of catching up to do. Our planet has a myriad of environmental challenges that need to be tackled. Our challenge was finding a place to start.
For me, water has been a common theme that has flowed (pun intended) throughout my life. As I worked to get Lochtree off the ground, I found my concern returning to this element again and again. It was obvious: this was the area that was closest to my heart and where Lochtree needed to put its focus. From here, I fervently sought to learn about and connect with organizations that were on the ground tackling these problems. These champions of the cause worked on all sides of the issue: helping to educate, clean up, or provide access to water.
One of the biggest milestones this year was developing fantastic new partnerships with two organizations working to solve environmental issues, Rozalia Project and OffGridBox. Both Rozalia Project and OffGridBox are striving tirelessly to address environmental and social issues surrounding water. They have adopted innovative and modern approaches to addressing these challenges.
If Lochtree wanted to help support meaningful change, these were two organizations that we needed to work with. Fortunately for us, both organizations appreciated our humble beginnings and welcomed our involvement. As we look forward to the future, I am excited that in Year One we found two such awesome organizations to work with.
What's Next At Lochtree
As we start year two and begin to write a new chapter at Lochtree I could not be more excited about what's to come. We have made it out of the blocks and are on our way now. We have quite a few lofty goals for year two, but chief among them are the following.
First, to continue to grow sustainably while bringing new and exciting environmentally-friendly products to Lochtree.
Second, to reimagine traditional approaches to engagement with consumers and deliver new, fresh, and inspiring content.
And finally, to further engage with our partners and the environmental community to create meaningful change. There is a tremendous amount to do, but I could not be more excited about the challenge ahead.
Endnotes: It Takes A Village
Launching Lochtree this last year has been an incredible experience, but it certainly required a lot of help and input along the way. They say raising children takes a village. I tested that theory and found it to be true. However, I would also argue now that this saying can also be applied to starting a business. There are countless people and organizations to thank for helping Lochtree get off the ground, but I wanted to quickly share and highlight a few.
- Dan O’Brien and the team at Wild Idea Buffalo Co for all their help, support, and education of the years.
- Jake at Jago Design for his incredible design work helping create the Lochtree look and feel.
- Jessica at Jessica Dowding Agency for helping me work through all my writing woes and better communicate Lochtree’s message.
- John at JumperCable Marketing for continuing to be the most incredible mentor and advisor over the years.
- Bob at Lynch Mueffelmann for all the support, help, and encouragement for jumping in and building the Lochtree website.
- Lou at Threshold Consulting for all of the great conversations, ideas, and encouragement.
- IDEA: Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator for helping me to continue to critically examine Lochtree, stress test business plans, and keep me grounded.
And of course, my family and friends for putting up with me and all of their incredible patience and support as Lochtree has gotten underway. I can not begin to thank everyone enough for all their help, love, and support.