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Archive for the ‘natural life’ Category

Isn’t this appropriate for ‘the waterguy’ with a time management challenge when it comes to regular blog updates… but less of me and what’s with the blog action water thing?

 ‘Blog Action Day’ (capitals because it’s official) is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. This year’s topic is water…

Right now, almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water, which equates to one in eight of us. A lack of basic sanitation (water dependent) causes 80% of diseases and kills more people each year than war does. Children are especially vulnerable and as a parent of a child who’s survived dysentery, it’s a most frightening (water borne) illness which we were fortunate to have nursed our child through.

The UN predicts that one tenth of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply and sanitation. So simple, yet so challenging, particularly where politics gets in the way to restrict those least able from helping themselves…

For my part, water is an environmental issue, a sustainability issue and an issue which deserves a global profile as bloggers of the world theoretically unite in one conversation…

I’m not really into research, but the US, Mexico and China apparently lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. That sounds high to me, but based on this figure, around 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, while more than 80 percent will unlikely ever be recycled.

Which brings me back to where I started out several years ago looking for a better alternative when I realised people won’t stop drinking bottled water just because I think its ecological folly.

I’m pleased, on this particular Blog Action Day, to be able to report how Aquapax is still growing from strength to strength, with a retail listing approaching 500 stores across Europe and with exciting new distribution areas embracing the change we’ve introduced in their own countries.

While it’s frustrating how some UK retailers still won’t talk to us until we can prove with expensive research reports how their particular customers might actually appreciate a more ecologically sensible choice of packaged water, we continue to grow through customer choice exercised within Tesco, Waitrose and Monop (part of Monoprix Group) so this makes three of the largest and most respected retailers in the world.

I’ve updated the ‘where can I buy Aquapax’ listing below with the UK based stores we know about and ask you to please let us know if you’d like to add your local independent retail outlet to this list.

Warm wishes

N

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Well it rhymes with trouble and strife, but no-one really wants to read of another’s woes, so I opted for the more palatable headline… We too have the day to day pressures of running a growing business, late paying customers and un-cooperative banks, but in the wider scheme of things, we’re winning down here at AQUAPAX head office, with both our customer base and distribution network moving in the right direction. More importantly, as an entrepreneur with a reasonably healthy ‘macro’ perspective, we remain healthy and happy as a family during those precious (few) hours we spend together.

Someone bought my attention to a hydration article recently which is worth sharing… Recent research has uncovered habitual dehydration among 96% of the UK’s office workers, which has prompted a campaign by one of the more worthy natural juice companies (Juice Doctor). It’s designed to educate the nation and encourage healthy hydration habits, urging people to check the colour of their urine as a matter of course and setting the nation a goal to ‘keep it light’.

Apparently two in every three Brits are dehydrated and while our bodies offer an accurate visual detector to understand our individual hydration level, there’s a distinct lack of understanding of what the campaign refers to as ‘simple biology’. Their findings show that 93 percent of office workers either don’t check and/or don’t know what the colour of their urine indicates. For those who didn’t study biology, the lighter your urine, the better you’re hydrated!

The ‘Keep It Light!’ survey polled over 1,000 UK office workers and apparently a shocking 75 percent of UK office workers cited their first response to a headache as taking headache pills rather than drinking more water. This coincides with my observations at the fabulous designer label Theatre de la Mode’s Olympian Exhibition in Brompton Rd last week; we allowed a significant quantity of water for consumption on a hot evening, only to find a majority seeking hydration in vodka punch. It was a nice punch, but moderation went out of the window! Still, the wise ones would have been grateful for their AQUAPAX experience next morning…

Back to the report, which claims the majority of folk surveyed, 60% believed they drank enough water, less than 4% were actually getting the recommended 7+ glasses of water per day. Shockingly (from my perspective) almost three-quarters of the respondents admitted to drinking either no water at all or only one to two glasses.  I find it’s a good discipline to keep my AQUAPAX on my desk at work. I can then re-fill it from the water dispenser (aka tap) and put the lid back on to keep my water cool inside the pack rather than sitting in an open glass warming while awaiting colleagues to cough in it… (bad image but that’s the reality!)

It’s proven that a mere 2% drop in hydration can lead to a massively disproportionate 20% drop in concentration. This leads to the ‘Keep It Light!’ campaign crux which warns a habitually dehydrated worker can be wasting up to one day per week in loss of concentration. Staggering statistics!

Enough of the public service broadcast for one blog, what’s happenening at AQUAPAX head office I hear you ask… Yes that was a typo if you looked closely, but if it’s good word for a 4 year old, it’s cool by me!

AQUAPAX has commenced the long awaited launch into the first 60 Tesco stores, primarily across the south east of England, but some as far afield as the midlands where we’re in Coventry and Stratford Upon Avon. It’s an ambient listing in the first instance, which means the AQUAPAX will probably be on the shelf rather than in the fridge, however, that’s the way it has to be before we can roll out to a more accessible store base within a more prominent front of store location.

We’re awaiting the wider scale roll out before making noise and generating attention to our presence, which we’re planning to coincide with our new website – running a little late but live before the Summer’s out.  On that note, it’s time to start the week – well it is almost 07:00 so the week has officially begun. Keep smilling 🙂

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It’s a challenge to read my optimistic embrace of 22nd April (below) and reconcile it with how the news of the gulf oil slick – which unfolded later that same day – made and continues to make me feel. The wonderful ecological initiatives being undertaken by so many good people are dwarfed by the continuing devastation in the gulf. 

All the recycling in the world is undone by whatever went wrong deep under the sea. We watch as it spews its foul smelling hydrocarbons wreaking havoc on the ecology of the southern United States. I’ve twittered about this and other aspects of life, but resurrecting a full blown blog seemed unattractive to me up to now.

I spoke at the Brighton & Hove Chamber breakfast last Friday and a friend of mine, Gordon Borer, quoted Simon Sinek to me and reinforced something deep within; Gordon stressed to keep telling ‘my why’. To communicate my vision of how AQUAPAX will bring the wider culture change in our consumer society which I so earnestly desire… So as it’s world environment day on Saturday (June 5th) here goes with another creative release… (http://www.youtube.com/brightonchamber ; http://uk.linkedin.com/in/gordonborer ; http://startwithwhy.com/)

My why is driven by the deep feelings I had while watching the tsunami footage back on December 26th 2004 and how helpless I subsequently felt when my plans to ‘lend a hand’ were vetoed within the structure of the corporation that was my then employer.

This led me to work on a disposable portable water container suitable for long term storage, with comprehensive integrity in terms of its function and carbon footprint. This near obsession and my ultimate mission of launching a premium consumer brand called AQUAPAX, evolved into my strategy to swim up-stream when the ‘institutions’ of the world wouldn’t work with our ‘new business’…

I’ve always loved trees and dropping geography for woodwork was one of the first independent decisions I made, which impacted my education in ways I was then too young to grasp. Working with sustainable forest sources as a renewable material was the only true way I could think of to ensure the future of the worlds great forests. Look closely at the front of an AQUAPAX – you will see this clearly.

I deliberately chose to carbon balance our business energy emmissions because I knew the well meaning green brigade would otherwise leap upon AQUAPAX source being a few hundred kilometres further away than was optimal. Choosing the particular source we did – one of the purest natural mineral waters on the planet – is because I know too much about inferior quality water and was not prepared to develop a product without integrity. (a pure thirst for the environment ®)

We’ve continued to thrive through a deep recession we didn’t budget for because people are getting our message and I feel so grateful that our growing distribution now embraces a tribe of human connections in 4 countries with some major well respected retail alliances already on board our revolution…

Since my last blog on earth day: –

  • We sponsored the Estethica Press Day – held at Clarence House.
  • We sponsored the first ever exhibition of Palestinian Art – held at Kenny Shatners Rove Gallery in Hoxton Square. (We embrace art & not politics!)
  • We sponsored the regeneration project at the Rag Factory off Brick Lane, masterminded by a brilliant young photography student Charlotte Streeter.
  • We’ve agreed an exciting sponsorship with Creative Director Chris Kelly and his iconic fashion label ‘Theatre De La Mode’ for their upcoming film premier fashion show in Knightsbridge.
  • We sponsored the (non-alcoholic) refreshment in the VIP arena at the Antibes Boat Show.
  • We’ve also agreed an ongoing high profile sponsorship with the world famous FIAC in Paris through to 2012.

‘There’s revolution in the air’ – as Bob Dylan sang all those years ago… watch this space as AQUAPAX (the eco-chic conscience of the bottled water industry) gathers increasing pace over this summer and the seasons which follow, or ping me directly with your postcode if you’d like to know where your nearest current stockist is…
I’ll write again soon – I promise.  😉

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I spoke with my good friend Robert yesterday evening – you know when you meet someone who you just click with – that’s him! We met in Dubai last year for the Arab Beverage Industry Seminar, where AQUAPAX won the ‘Best Bottled Water of the Year’. He and I celebrated appropriately as old friends might, despite having only known one another a few days – we’ve kept in touch ever since; as friends do!

Robert was telling me how Mr. Obama’s ‘change and hope’ campaign message has translated in his home state of Michigan to the fact that ‘change’ has now come and people ‘hope’ they can keep hold of their homes… It seems the unemployment in his home state is pretty severe and I really feel for him and his young family.

That got me thinking – as this time of year often does, on some of the wisdom gained during the past 12 months. It’s good to reflect and hopefully not make so many mistakes next year…

  • My conscience doesn’t abide by ‘majority rule’.
  • A wise man holds his tongue when he’s right because even fools are right sometimes.
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted and no man is as poor as a man unable to give anything.
  • Take time to think – my mind grows rich from what it receives, but my heart from what it gives.
  • Finish every day and be done with it – being happy at home is my ultimate goal. Worry won’t rob tomorrow’s sorrow but it will sap today’s joy.
  • Perseverance is not a long race; it’s a series of short races in succession.
  • I can’t win if I don’t begin – failure is often the line of least persistence.
  • I will not dwell on where I fell but will identify where I slipped.
  • I will do more of the things I think I can’t do; doing the impossible is fun – especially when you watch other’s reactions!
  • Money does not really change people – it merely unmasks them.
  • Words are like stones and can’t be recalled – unlike stones they often have little substance…

Finally, a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that I hold dear: – “Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes” 

Happy New Year to you dear reader, remember, AQUAPAX are the future… 🙂

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Opportunities I mean – you wait forever for the one you want and then 2 come along at the same time… it’s certainly been like that lately, hence my absence from writing.

We partnered with Estethica for their press day at the London May Fair hotel on 11th November. Estethica is officially the British Fashion Council’s eco sustainable initiative and it’s now in its seventh season. During that time it’s evolved to become the epicentre (and the collective conscience) for London’s ethical fashion industry and it was an honour that they asked AQUAPAX (the conscience of the bottled water industry) to partner with them for this prestigious and premium quality event.

The day was a tremendous success showing there’s no need to compromise on design or style while remaining true to one’s personal and professional ethics. Despite some seriously ‘off-piste’ questioning at the start of the open press session, everyone agreed it was sensible for Estethica to maintain a separate stance to the core BFC press day, where they otherwise risk being marginalised by the big name classics.

I even managed to meet my son for a ‘pie and mash’ dinner near London Bridge later in the evening, which is something we haven’t done for a long time.

As if that wasn’t enough activity for one day, I’d started the day in Lewes (East Sussex), where the students at Sussex Down College were presenting the output of their Digital Media ‘motion graphics’ module. These incredibly talented individuals used AQUAPAX as their challenger brand to support with a series of viral ads, created to spread the word of our more sustainable mineral water against the corporate communications might of ‘the big boys’. At this point I’d very much like to publicly thank both the students and their tutors, particularly Sue Bamford and their professional animation tutor Sarah Bird – her work is awesome if you have the time…

The videos are now posted on you tube and if you search for AQUAPAX, you’ll see there’s quite a quirky collection gathering… (or click & follow this link) They range from seriously professional to… well, make up your own mind. Some students got a little close to simply condemning plastic bottles as opposed to actually promoting AQUAPAX, but as the group were kind enough to do this work for my brand, I wasn’t going to try and influence or control their output.
As a brand owner, this loss of control to a group of students could be perceived a brave (or foolish) decision, but I believe a brand exists in an open form, to be embraced (or not) and ultimately shaped by its consumers. How else would our brand have ended up within a ‘monty python’ style wacky but imminently watchable video?

Sure advertising can try to control consumer perception of a brand, but as a marketer, I’m conscious that brand interaction becomes more intimate once the ‘buy’ decision has been made; during the consumption phase or post purchase remorse as we were taught when I was a student.

Appreciating this isn’t a normal experience with a consumable like bottled water, it’s the iconic AQUAPAX design – thanks again SunHouse – which helps us build an emotional connectivity with our customers. As the retail price points for AQUAPAX and the plethora of plastic bottled stuff are broadly the same, our design led brand image has become our real brand attribute.

Anyone who’s read my blog (or tried our water) knows our product quality is superior but providing it can at least live up to and reinforce initial consumer perception of our brand promise (which it absolutely does) I believe that’s a more important brand attribute than me trying to tell consumers what their brand perception should be. Perception is reality as my friend Chris used to say.

Our French distributors have a slightly different perspective to my ‘let it be’ approach and you can see their incredibly professional animated video film in the same ‘you tube’ space if you type in our brand name, or follow my tweet link on the right. I respect the wonderfully collaborative creative work from Drinkyz and their partners at Scorpio Music and love both the funky imagery and the music itself; yet at the same time, there’s a shorter video from a Sussex Downs student called David Rosser which absolutely nails brand AQUAPAX in just 15 seconds!

Speaking of busses (I was in the beginning) I’m off to see Vegan Routes tomorrow in Brewer St. Soho, where AQUAPAX is the beverage of choice in their fine new vegan restaurant on board a renovated and quality converted 1967 Routemaster bus… Maybe we can meet there for lunch one day 🙂

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The Gunwharf food festival was fun on Saturday and I met some ‘old friends’ from last year when Hagar and I shared a stand with a funky mini.

It’s amazing to see how my encouragement for people to re-use and recycle their empty Aquapax has really taken off – particularly the re-use aspect. A number of people report now buying Aquapax as much for the smart looking disposable container as for the award winning natural mineral water quality inside.

The way they see it; their kids are already losing the expensive refillable nalgene bottles at school, whereas giving them a fresh Aquapax each week works just as well and if they do lose it (or jump on it for the loud bang noise) it’s no big deal. One chap remarked that his kids take theirs to school re-filled with tap water (tap water in the fridge overnight tends to lose its chlorine taste) and he takes his empty Aquapax re-filled with something a little stronger to various sporting events he attends.

The (unofficial) record for refilling an empty Aquapax used to be held by a student at Sussex Uni who used hers for a reported 2 months. I thought that took eco-consciousness to another level, but then we heard from a father and son who’ve used their Aquapax cartons for a whole year, refilling them whenever they go fishing so they can still have a reasonably cool drink at the end of their day. 

With this level of eco-frugality, I can see we’re going to have to open some new markets to ensure we have a sustainable business model… On that note, we’ve finally found a distributor to deliver Aquapax to your home within London (minimum 2 cases = 48 units per delivery). That complements the established delivery system for Aquapax original through Ideal World TV (which links from the column on the right) – I know that doesn’t help if you want our new design Aquapax and live outside of London, but at least it’s a start.  More details to follow as we get the order / delivery system working seamlessly 🙂

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7 day weeks are no fun anymore. The Sussex Show was busy enough (although not as busy as last year) and working with my son on father’s day was a reward in itself; but my feet hurt a great deal more than they ever have in the past and beating the break even point at around 4:30 on Sunday afternoon hardly made me smile.

Maybe it’s a simple draining of energy because I’ve always believed how old you are is not as important as how you are old. 😉 Certainly working with my son taught me a few things about myself this weekend and admitting I’m wrong (now and then) is my own modest way of showing I’m becoming wiser with the passage of time.

There was, as always, one potential ‘ace’ contact from the weekend and it proves my adage to treat every customer with respect and the ‘enthusiasm’ as if they were your first and only customer that day. Whether or not anything comes of this particular ‘ace’ is down to the follow up meeting we’ve scheduled for next week, but my intuition is strong that Aquapax on ‘prime time’ is drawing nearer and maybe ‘Robert’ will be a catalyst to help lead us there.

With hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t sign-up to do Glastonbury this year. I know the weather forecast is better than they’ve had in my recent memory, but there are times when one has to accept that 5 days of work by day and party by night is a tough gig! 

Besides that, now Aquapax is being enjoyed equally by the illustrious world champion England cricket team and by the beautiful people at the prestigious St. Tropez Polo Club, maybe it’s time my weekend sleeping arrangements were upgraded from a tent…

wonderful cricket players drink wonderful water

wonderful cricket players drink wonderful water

 

Beautiful people drinking beautiful water in a beautiful setting

Beautiful people drinking beautiful water in a beautiful setting

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