10 Questions for a brilliant
Seads, a sustainable shoe company
As a Shopify Expert Agency, we’re lucky enough to work with some brilliant start-ups bringing beautiful ideas to life.
Seads Global is a Shopify Ecommerce store selling high quality, colourful sneaker-espadrilles, which have been made from recycled plastic ocean waste. Seads is fully circular, meaning once the shoes have been worn out, they can be sent back to the company, who will recycle them once again.
This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing Agnes Wagter, founder of Seads Global. We asked Agnes 10 questions to find out more about the company and the advice they would give to any other Shopify start-ups who are in the early stages of their project.
Hi Agnes! What inspired you to start Seads?
“The idea came to me in a flash as I was walking on the beach after a very stormy November night. I had been considering starting a shoe line for women with large feet, but when I saw all the plastic waste washed up on the beach, it became clear that I needed to make shoes out of plastic waste. I decided the shoes should be a new take on the classical espadrilles as they’re a typical beachy, summer shoe.
The plastic problem in our oceans is overwhelming and it’s too big to solve individually. But I figured that, if I could create a high-quality product that people would want to buy, then we can at least do something about it and be part of the solution together.
So rather than making shoes purely for women with larger feet, Seads are unisex and available in sizes 36-46. The name Seads was there right away too. It’s a wordplay between sea and seed – if left in the sea, the plastic waste degrades into microplastics, we try to be ahead of this process and use it as the seed for a new product. “
Love the thinking behind the brand! If you had to pick one thing, what would you say you like most about the product?
“I love that it’s fully circular. We want to make sure that Seads never become waste again. Otherwise, all the effort put into upcycling the ocean and post-consumer plastic waste is pointless. So we designed them in such a way that they can be recycled again once they’ve been worn out. Our customers simply need to send them back to us and we’ll recycle them – they become the seed for a new product. “
How many people are part of your team?
“We’re still a very small company, currently a team of four. But we collaborate with freelancers, small external teams, and other companies when we need to. “
How do you define success? What do you want to achieve?
“For me, success is never about making big bucks. Of course, you need money to run your business, but I’ve always been focussed on the world of ideas, mastering the unknown and coming up with something new. That’s how I always defined success.
But with Seads, there has been some sort of paradigm shift, where ‘more’ really does play a role. We transform ocean and post-consumer plastic waste, which would otherwise be left in the ocean or environment for decades, into new products. And then we recycle them again to reduce the production of new raw materials.
We also donate 10% of our profit to ocean cleaning projects and innovations. So, the more we sell, the better we are for our planet. If we are able to keep the momentum going and scale the business to a size where we really have an impact, then I would say we’ve been successful.”
Do you believe there is a formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur?
“Not that I know of!
Of course, there are millions of books written about entrepreneurship and I actually taught business innovation at a University for a couple of years. So there is a lot you can learn. But, in the end, you’re out there on your own, you run into issues that need to be solved, you make mistakes, and you can’t just quit when the going gets tough.
So you need to be resourceful, have stamina, and learn that mistakes are part of the game, sometimes even a blessing. You have to remember that you can’t know it all, so you have to remain open to the outside world. All this, I think, is only possible in the long run when you truly love what you’re doing. That’s what gives you the drive to keep pushing on. “
We all learn from our mistakes. As you said, they’re part of the process. Can you identify one mistake that you really regret?
“I can, and it’s to do with the website. We started the development of our website very early on in the product development process. This was probably a bit too soon. And then Covid came along and caused delays to production. As a result, for a very long time, we didn’t have much content for our site. This created friction between us and the development team we were working with.
I also felt that some elements of the site weren’t programmed well, but I couldn’t make this clear enough to the team. So I reached a point where I started looking for a new developer.
And that’s when I found Marco from MMShopyDevs. He carried out a brief analysis of our site and provided some very solid advice.
But, out of loyalty, I choose to continue working with the original team. I felt like it was partially our fault things hadn’t worked out and I didn’t want to cause an issue. That’s a mistake I truly regret now.
After a few months of muddling through, things really started to fall apart, and we hadn’t really made any progress. So I called Marco straight away and, luckily for us, he said he could help.
Within a very short space of time, he managed to get the whole project up and running again, reprogramming a large part of the site. If I’d worked with him straight away, I would have saved a lot of time – and a lot of stress!”
Enough about mistakes – what has been your most satisfying moment in business so far?
“I’d have to say the moment that the truck filled with boxes of Seads drove up to our warehouse. That was the moment I knew that Seads had gone from an idea to something very real. I have to admit it was a little bit daunting seeing all those boxes being unloaded into the warehouse, but it was also very, very exciting! “
Back to the website – what do you love about Shopify? And what would you change about it?
“I love that it’s a very complete system, and if there’s anything else you want to add in, there’ll be an app available. I also really like that there are Shopify experts out there who can help you adapt the system to your needs. Finally, Shopify’s customer service is very approachable and responsive, which is impressive for such a big, digital company.
As for issues – maybe in the long term I might find some, but for now, there’s absolutely nothing I would change!”
Can you give three pieces of advice for someone who’s just about to start a business?
“1 – There’s no better time to start your own business than now. So, if you have an idea that really grabs you, just go for it!
2 – Be prepared for setbacks and know that it’s not all going to be smooth sailing
3 – Listen to your intuition”
Finally, where do you see Seads in 5 years’ time?
“The plastic pollution of our oceans and environment is a global problem, so I hope that in 5 years’ time, we’ll be operating globally in a responsible way. That means having short shipping routes to our customers and recycling operations nearby. Of course, I’d also like to be supporting a good number of environmental projects and innovations by then too.”