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Eat Grim x Copenhagen Cartel – Towards a sustainable future 🌱

Barbara Karen

Barbara Karen

Sustainability is a concept that has gained a lot of attention and traction these last few years. Basically sustainability refers to the ability to exist constantly, and especially to the way human civilization can exist non-damaging to the Earth’s biosphere. 

We have found two strong businesses that both specialize in selling products with sustainability in mind. Learn how they started their journey towards a more sustainable future, and how your business can adapt to a greener way.

Different products, same goal

Have you ever been at the grocery aisle in the supermarket picking the prettier vegetable over the slightly uglier one – even though you know nothing is wrong with the uglier vegetable?

Girl standing with a sustainable veggie box from Eat Grim
Veggie box from Eat Grim – not as ugly as you think

That is the paradigm that the company, Eat Grim, is trying to shift. Eat Grim is a rather new company founded in 2018 by Finnish Petra Kaukua and German Carolin Schiemer. They met each other during their master studies in Denmark, where they found to have similar interests in researching sustainable food systems.

Eat Grim gives successfully consumers the option of fresh vegetables delivered at their door on a subscription basis. The purpose of their business is to transform the food that normally would go to waste in the supply chain because of (rather ridiculous) demands to perfect expectations of vegetables. Their key motto is “A kilo sold is a kilo saved”!

Katrine Lee fra Copenhagen Cartel der laver badetøj ud af genbrugsplastik fra fiskenet der er blevet fundet i havet.

Copenhagen Cartel is also a thriving company founded in 2019 by Katrine Lee Larsen, who have lived and worked on the beautiful island of Bali. Unfortunately, as the annual monsoon sweeps over and the ocean currents change from west to east, Bali’s famous beaches are buried with up to 60 tons of plastic waste every day. 

To combat the vast plastic waste Copenhagen Cartel produces sustainable swim and leisure wear made from post-consumer plastic waste from the seas. Katrine went on the Danish version of Dragon’s Den to secure an investment from Blazar Capital. 

Sustainable business is great, but…

…it can’t be that easy. So what’s the hardest part about running a business with a sustainable focus? As you might imagine, sustainability is not always the cheapest concept to support. Often this is because of extended quality assurance in the production process. 

As for Eat Grim the market of subscription “meal” boxes is saturated, but this is not where the competition lies. Competing against the popular supermarket chains is a challenge, especially in managing expectations since customers can’t always expect every vegetable to be available in their box.

Eat Grim veggie box
The large, delicious Big & Beasty veggie box delivered from Eat Grim

So the thoughts and actions towards growth have been many – small and big – from the start of the business and till today. Especially finding investment opportunities that allow the business to grow are hard to come by. Luckily the vegetable loving business was able to start and grow in a Danish start-up incubator program. This rocketed the popularity in Copenhagen and surrounding areas. Later on, they succeeded in securing an investment from Unconventional Ventures. 

On the other hand Copenhagen Cartel had existed for a year and a half before going on the TV-show Dragon’s Den. Katrine luckily made a great impression on the dragons with her sustainable quality swimwear and went on to secure an investment of 700.000 DKK, approximately 81.000 GBP. 

As for packaging it has naturally been a large factor in distribution of the vegetable boxes. Starting out Eat Grim was distributing the orders in open wooden crates. Later on Carolin and Petra went on to distribute orders in FSC certified and partly recycled cardboard boxes that could close on top instead. The packaging is easy to recycle and not harmful to the environment.

Veggie box courier bike
Veggie box courier bike

Regarding delivery Eat Grim actually utilizes bike couriers to distribute their veggie meal boxes to their customers in inner city Copenhagen, and climate compensated delivery for the rest of their deliveries.

This eco-friendly method of delivery is accordingly to Eat Grim more expensive than the traditional fleet of trucks. It is a higher monthly expense, but this means easier and more accessible distribution in the city. 

Also Copenhagen Cartel sees the importance of not only a sustainable product but naturally also a green supply chain. The production and manufacturing is limited to European partners which also helps limit the transportation of products to a minimum. Sustainability is also a keyword in packaging by utilizing conscious FSC-certified cardboard shipping envelopes. 

The greatest successes

Well, the businesses clearly had some obstacles to tackle and overcome like most businesses. Luckily the concepts have been in high demand, so let us hear about the wins.

When asked about the greatest successes Eat Grim are proud to have expanded their business to Aarhus with a large warehouse that makes logistics easy. Now the veggie business can count 30 greens-loving and ambitious employees. 

Diving deeper down the veggie-loving duo actually spent the first half year of their business driving their many orders around in a van. This became extremely tiring and hard to plan logistically. This caused them to cleverly invest in their first logistics company, which quickly eliminated a big pain in Carolin’s and Petra’s schedule, and helped them focus on other urgent areas of the business.

As mentioned the customers have been eager to explore this new alternative to the vegetables sourced at the supermarket. Now a whopping 26% of their customers come from referrals, which can be a profitable way to introduce the concept to new possibly long-term customers.  

Girls in Copenhagen Cartel swim wear
Girls in Copenhagen Cartel swim wear

Also Copenhagen Cartel has experienced great accomplishments: Only three days after her product launch Katrine was contacted by Copenhagen Fashion Week. Her brand has since appeared twice on the catwalk to represent Denmark and sustainable fashion at Paris Fashion Week.

Also achieving a considerable investment when appearing on Dragon’s Den helped Katrine focus on her brand full time and hire a competent COO. 

Ambitions levels are sky high!

Even though a business with sustainability in focus is not an easy or cheap concept, these businesses have had a taste of success that has only led to a stronger urge. Luckily, there is an increasing interest and need for a more sustainable living as our population keeps growing. 

The team of Eat Grim
The veggie lovers working at Eat Grim

Both companies view the future as very bright because of this increased focus on quality products. Eat Grim has great plans to conquer the country of Sweden and other European markets, where a sustainable living is in high demand. Expansion is also a hot topic for Copenhagen Cartel that are more keen on opening a physical store in the center of Copenhagen in May 2021 as an addition to the webshop. 

We are very excited to follow these two inspiring businesses on their further journey towards a greener living. 

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