Startup Stories: The On-The-Go Alternative to Paper Towels


Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
PeopleTowels are reusable, Fair Trade, organic cotton hand towels that are an on-the-go replacement for paper towels. At PeopleTowels, we are working hard to solve an environmental problem that most Americans contribute to, but are often unaware of the magnitude of their contribution. That problem is paper towel waste!

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
In the early 2000’s, I was a frequent traveler to Japan where I was introduced to the custom of personal hand towels. In Japan, everyone – men, women, children – young and old carry a hand towel because they do not have paper towels and seldom have electric hand dryers in public facilities. The Japanese never adopted the use of paper towels and other consumable paper products, because they do not have the “luxury” of wasting precious land to create landfills and their culture is one of respect for their land and its natural resources. We thought, if 127 million Japanese can survive successfully without paper towels, why can’t we?

What problem does your business or organization solve?
With PeopleTowels, we offer ordinary people and businesses an alternative to paper towels and empower them to help the environment. Each year, Americans send a staggering 13 billion pounds of paper towels to landfills. Plus, millions of trees are cut down and toxic chemicals released into the environment for a product that is used for seconds and tossed.

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
Our greatest challenge has been to change consumer behaviors and habits. Behavioral shifts do not come easily or quickly. The U.S. has become a “throw-away” culture propelled by mass marketing and advertising. Our challenge has been, with a limited marketing budget, to convince American consumers to switch from a mindless convenience, paper towels, to a new eco-habit of reusable hand towels or as we like to call it – B.Y.O.Towel.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
Project Eve provides me motivation and inspiration. It has a wealth of information for all aspects of our business. I especially like reading about other entrepreneurs, their challenges and great ideas!

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
If you have a new product in a new category that you want to sell at retail, unless you have a large marketing budget, know that it will take time to penetrate the market. Start locally, get to know your buyers and then expand. Your local store buyer, if excited about your product, will be the one that gives you good placement and will promote your product. A regional or national buyer will often give you a larger initial order, but once your product lands in their stores it is on its own unless you have a sales team that can follow up with every store. Even then, that may not be enough if the local buyer doesn’t have the excitement or see the same value as that of the national or regional buyer.

Company: PeopleTowels, LLC


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