We are so excited to see Pura Eco Store opening its first shop in Addingham this Saturday 10th October 2020. We will now be able to buy eco-friendly groceries from sustainable and local suppliers with minimum waste right here on our doorstep. Nicky Hopwood is the founder of Pura Eco Store and Pura Ilkley Ltd. and we've had the pleasure of interviewing her to hear more about her mission.

Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to change your career.

I have taught Economics & Politics for nearly 10 years and enjoyed informing young people about the theory of market failure and solutions to climate change.

Over the last 5 years, I have thought a lot about the need for sustainable convenience shopping in our towns and villages and I worked for a while for Charlotte Hawkins at Waste Not in Burley. In the last 2 years, I became an active campaigner with various environmental groups and organised a ‘Car Free Day’ with Climate Action Ilkley. I set up Pura Ilkley and Pura Eco Store to help our community live more sustainable lives.

Did you have a 'lightbulb' moment?

Driving home from work one day, I had to make another stop at the local convenience store and was frustrated that I was forced to buy plastic-wrapped, imported products. I knew of local producers who were keeping crafts alive, developing circular supply chains and using sustainable materials to do so.

There was an empty shop on my high street and I wished that I could open an ‘alternative’ convenience store. I started plotting!!

What were your first steps in setting up the business?

I was due to open a store in April 2020 but because of the Covid-19 situation, the venue went into administration and I lost the premises!!!

I had to quickly adapt and was approached by Mark at ProntoPronto.com. Mark helped Pura Ilkley go online as Pura Local Pantry and we spent most of the lockdown period delivering bread, coffee, drinks, dried foods, soap etc to isolated families. This gave me time to build my exciting list of suppliers and to think about the direction of the business.

How did you go about finding the right suppliers for you?

I spend a lot of time on social media, following innovative and local producers. There are also some excellent trade fairs where Yorkshire businesses showcase their offering.

I have at least 3 products which I found in March, just before lockdown, at the Harrogate Fine Food Fair. Yorkshire Pasta is made in Malton with locally grown flour and green energy, Myroo Skincare is based in lovely Harrogate and all their skincare products are made right here in Yorkshire. We have so many awesome products on our doorstep and that’s sustainable shopping.

There’s also a close, eco-trader community in which we spot worthy suppliers and lots of Eco-wholesalers. Sustainable living does not mean compromise.

Are you planning on designing your own range of Pura products?

In the sense that we offer refill and bespoke quantities to our customers, we are unique and Pura Ilkley is now tendering a B2B service to local businesses whereby we source local, sustainable and eco-friendly products and refill their containers.

A number of my suppliers have offered ‘bespoke’ service so… you never know there may be a ‘Pura’ product one day!

What kind of products can we expect to see in your shop in Addingham?

We are selling refillable dried foods such as pasta, rice and lentils, You'll find Yorkshire Pasta from Malton, Granola and Bread Flour from East Yorkshire and Coffee Beans roasted in Haworth. You'll find compostable Nespresso pods for coffee machines made in the UK.

There will be plastic-free toiletries, soaps and gifts. Tilda’s Tribe - ‘naked’ Goats Milk Soap from East Riddlesden, Washing Up Liquid, Shampoo, Floor Cleaner, Laundry Liquid from Keighley, Friendly Soap from Hebden Bridge, Organic, refill face moisturiser, face wash and hand sanitiser made in this country. Oh…and organic soy winter candles from Harrogate.

The shop smells incredible.

How do you think the market for 'refill' and eco-friendly products will behave over the next decade?

Some of the supermarkets have trialled refill products with little success. I may be wrong, but I suspect that they may make more profit from packaged goods. Certainly, somebody is!

I believe that single-use plastics will be replaced by plant-based alternatives for many products, but this may take a while. I suspect that independent retailers have to trail blaze and hope that the supermarkets will follow.

Some supermarkets sell refill cleaning products, but a lot of people are unaware that some of these brands are often by conglomerates who have dubious records on animal testing and sourcing of materials etc.