Eco-friendly Hampstead business; Ohelo water bottles
- Credit: Archant
Alex and Katy Francis Lim decided to change their lives and start a business selling beautiful yet functional water bottles
Ohelo's beautifully designed yet functional water bottles are the brainchild of Hampstead couple Alex and Katy Francis Lim, who gave up their jobs in finance and trading to start their eco-friendly company.
Katy explains it was a combination of feeling unfulfilled in their jobs, and the dream of creating a business together that crystallised during a trip to British Columbia in September 2017.
"The time in the wilderness gave us thinking space. There was a beautiful spot on one of the coastal islands we visited called sea lion point - just water, a few sea lions, trees and fresh air. That may have been the moment when we knew we would come home and change our lives."
While travelling in warmer climates they realised how water bottles can keep drinks "refreshingly cold as well as hot".
"Growing up in 1980s England we associated them with those thermos flasks with the little cups on top. We realised it was just not going to cut it for today's fashionable urbanite, so felt there was a market for re-imagining this classic product."
The couple were moved by both their travels to areas of wilderness, and by David Attenborough's Blue Planet 2 series which was airing at the time they were brainstorming ideas.
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"It was important that whatever business should help to keep these areas that we love exactly as they should be - natural!"
With 7.7billion bottles of water sold in the UK each year, they set about to design a resuable that would wage war on single use plastic: "We wanted to create something stylish enough for city use that also performed well when taken out on an adventure. Our approach was taking nature's lead in making simplicity the key. "Something modern yet had a hint of something more nostalgic. A simple elegant shape that fulfilled our style goals and high quality products that people would be delighted to use everyday."
Not only are the designs laser etched onto the bottles so they won't fade, but they are comfortable to carry with handles and a detachable strap which moves on pivots.
The pair's daschunds Cognac and Newton aren't left out of the new venture and have been appointed chief welfare and chief security officer.
"They love a good run on the heath - though we do call Cognac the "fun police" as he yells at any dogs who are play fighting. They seem to spend most of the day curled up asleep - not much work being observed just yet - but we are sure they will grow into their roles".
Even Ohelo's packaging and delivery are eco-friendly.
"It's important to make sure every part of our product chain aligns with our ethos," says Katy.
"It was a pet peeve of ours to go into department stores seeing products in the "reusables" category wrapped in a plastic bag inside recyclable packaging.
"We pay our manufacturing partners more to ensure our products are wrapped in recyclable tissue paper, and our stock is kept in a warehouse which has it's own solar farm and runs on 100 per cent green energy.
"Given how topical both single-use plastics and climate change have become we know we are not alone in wanting to to try and help.
"Change will not be made by a few people living perfectly green sustainable lives, but by many people making small changes."