Lindsey shares the story behind Plaine Products, and where she and Alison are today.
The F Project: What was the lightbulb moment that made you start your company?
Lindsey McCoy: I was living in the Bahamas when I first started to notice single-use plastic piling up on the beaches, roads, and waterways. Once you start to pay attention you realize it’s everywhere. Then you start reading. Every piece of plastic ever created still exists. More than half of all sea turtles have eaten plastic. Half of all plastic is used once and thrown away. Soon there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Everyone who has been tested has some residue of plastic chemicals in their body. The list goes on.
I started to use less plastic in my life, but one area where I couldn't find a solution was the bathroom. One day I was in the shower, looking at all of the plastic bottles on the shelf and that was the lightbulb moment. I dried off and called my sister, Alison Webster. “What if there was a Netflix of shampoo? Where you could buy bottles, then return them when you were done so they could be reused.” And that was the moment Plaine Products was born.
TFP: What makes you want to jump out of bed every day?
LM: I love that we're helping solve a problem. We get such great comments and appreciation from our customers and that makes it all the other stuff you have to do to keep a business going worth it.
TFP: What about your past career or life experience prepared you for entrepreneurship? What was a total shock?
LM: I worked in the nonprofit world for 20 years, which was great preparation for bootstrapping a new company. I knew how to make do with less, was willing to work at every job in the company, and I was excited about partnering with bloggers and other companies to help tell our story. The emotional roller coaster of so closely identifying with this business’s successes and failures, good days and bad, was more intense than I expected. This business truly is our baby.
TFP: What makes your product special/different?
LM: Plaine Products offers vegan shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand wash, and body lotion in returnable, refillable, reusable aluminum bottles. It’s a unique company in that we are taking responsibility for our packaging, providing an alternative to single use plastics, and providing cruelty-free, nontoxic products with vegan ingredients.
You order your preferred products. When your bottles are low you order a refill, or you can subscribe and we’ll send the bottles automatically. When the refills come you’ll switch the pumps over and send back the empty bottles in the refill box. Plaine Products covers the cost. Then we clean the bottles, refill them, and reuse them.
TFP: Do you have a personal mantra? Best advice?
LM: Personal manta: progress, not perfection. Key to success: persistence.
TFP: Why did you join The F Project?
LM: I was lucky that my first job was working for an amazing woman. It had a profound effect on my life and career trajectory. I’ve always believed I could do anything if I worked hard and told the story. It’s important to both of us that other women get that opportunity and support. Plus I think women just make better stuff! We're excited to learn about other companies and work with them. A rising tide lifts all boats!