For those who don’t know, our brand name Optiat is an acronym for the phrase “One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure”. 

We are all about sustainability and promoting a circular economy and we do this by taking ingredients that would otherwise be discarded and transforming them into our natural skincare products... But we aren’t the only people tackling the issue of food waste. On our journey we have met many other brands and individuals coming up with resourceful and original ways to tackle waste. 

In our food waste blog series we will catch up with some of our fave zero waste pioneers! First up we chatted with Hannah McCollum, the founder of ChicP.

In case you didn’t know, ChicP make delicious hummus from surplus veg - but what made Hannah take this leap into the world of sustainability?

What’s New With ChicP? What have you been focusing on recently?

We’ve recently launched with Amazon Fresh which is our first proper online retailer… quite exciting! We’re looking forward to seeing how this area grows with Amazon in the New Year and I recommend you all look out for the sample sale in January.

We’ve also been focusing on our shelf life and have some potentially very exiting shelf life extensions on the horizon which will make a huge difference.

We see you have some new packaging, can you tell us what’s different? (Is it recyclable?)

We now have sleeves on our pots rather than stickers - they stand out much more on the shelf, are a great colour and really tell the ChicP story! Next time you pick up a pot… make sure you have a good read. 

All our packaging is certainly recyclable. Our aim is to be able to scale to a size where we’re in a position to afford and speak to larger manufacturers that can produce pots that are made from already recycled plastic.

What did you do before starting ChicP?

I’ve always been in events and cooking but that has been on the whole part time. 

I was working for a private family run business in travel, art, philanthropy, events and film… really interesting and I was also able to receive a great insight into the London restaurant scene.

Was it nerve-wracking quitting your job?

Not really, I was ready to leave. I left not being 100% certain that I was going to start ChicP and it was when I finally made the decision to take the plunge on my own, this is what I found most nerve making.

You were inspired by the desire to reduce food waste, what was the turning point that made you decide to address it yourself by forming ChicP?

I used to do a lot of catering for large events companies and witnessing the amount of food that was wasted after every event used to really get to me. I used to do whatever I could to change the way the companies worked to reduce the waste but I was rather a small fish in a big pond!

While working for private clients as well as when I was cooking for myself at home, I would turn the leftover vegetable dishes in to hummus and got a bit of a reputation for “What’s the dip of the day Hannah!?” I realised that there was nothing sustainable on the shelf and nothing shouting out to people how to reduce waste so I thought why not make a very popular product (hummus) more healthy as well as using surplus vegetables to help address the problem.


What are the main benefits of including raw vegetables in your diet?

There are many reasons why and some people may have their own reasons but I believe that when you eat the vegetables raw, your body receives much more of the nutrients (especially Vitamin C). When vegetables are cooked, especially if over cooked (!) you lose a lot of the important nutrients that they would otherwise offer. If a food can be eaten raw, then take advantage of this! It must be for a reason… 

Some of the vital enzymes that help your body to digest such foods are also killed when the vegetables are cooked. However, cooked vegetables are still very good for you!

What’s been the biggest challenge in going it alone and starting your own company?

I think not having someone day to day working alongside me and being able to chat through every decision process can be challenging. Another pair of hands (and mouth) could be wonderful to get the business to the next stage quicker but also to just help with the day to day running around for meetings and attending events etc. However, I have had some wonderful interns work for me and with them, I’m a lot less alone!

What has been the reaction to your brand mission from customers and press?

The overall reaction has been great. I’ve loved being able to tell the ChicP story while also helping to advise people how they can be more sustainable. It’s also enabled me to make people more aware of the problems of food waste… a little bit of action from every individual can make all the difference.

Do people ever turn their nose up at the idea of using otherwise discarded ingredients?

Very rarely, especially when it’s not really discarded ingredients, rather just excess/surplus/oversized which still needs a home to go to. 

 

Do you have any plans to expand the ChicP range?

Yes I do :)

 

What is your proudest achievement from 2017?

Tricky.. I would have said getting into Whole Foods but that was the end of 2016. I think building the brand slowly and maintaining the relationships with my current distributors/retailers which is so important and will help the development for ChicP into 2018.

 

What are your plans for 2018?

Lots of plans! Should the shelf life extension plans work, then I hope to really increase my sales in Food Service as well as be stocked in a few larger retailers. We shall see...

Find out more about ChicP at www.chicp.co.uk!