Interview with Sofia de Meyer - Co-founder of Opaline Factory, producing high quality local juices w
Sofia de Meyer started her professional career as a corporate lawyer, working in a multinational firm in London. After 7 years of service, she packed her bags and came back to Switzerland eager to develop a business based on an inspiring economic model. She launched Whitepod, an eco-tourism camp in Valais. Winner of the World Eco-Tourism Award, her concept of a pure return to nature with the lowest impact on the environment received international recognition.
Whilst managing her camp, she always had difficulty in sourcing high quality local juices. And so the idea of Opaline was born. When she retired from Whitepod, she went back to her kitchen and trialled recipes using fruits from her local market.
Then she met Ludovic, her co-founder. Ludovic is Belgian. Also a passionate entrepreneur, in love with nature and agriculture, he first founded Montagne Alternative, a hotel concept in the Swiss Alps. As they hiked together, they spent hours talking about how inspiring it would be to propose a collection of pure drinks, made with love and respect, available to as wide an audience as possible in Switzerland. Opaline was born. The rest is history.
What's special about Opaline Factory?
Opaline Factory produces a range of pure fruit and vegetable juices and a range of lemonades (made from local freshly pressed apples amongst other ingredients). Our objective is to offer high quality beverages with a strong social and environmental conscience.
We produce on a solar panel factory. Our products are made from local ingredients carefully selected amongst a community of farmers we trust and endeavour to help in promoting their work. We pay all our ingredients at a fair price. We product Swiss products for the Swiss market.
And we thrive to grow our business on a circular model; all members of our community, be it farmers, producers, employees, commercial partners and all those who drink our products, should benefit as we grow. This is why we apply a equitable sharing of margins. This is why we are in the process of setting up a foundation. Our foundation will be financed from the sale of our products and will live to support local initiatives which thrive to inspire communities towards sustainability.
Why did you start Opaline Factory?
We wanted to find high quality juices, made with love and respect to all ressources involved (nature and humans), used to promote a positive change in the way we use our power as consumers. We wanted to prove that a business could be viable whilst offering true and authentic products, addressing a fair allocation of margins and overall looking out to serve the community.
Here's a short video of our story :
How did you start Opaline Factory? Did you have any previous experience as an entrepreneur? Were you still working at another job?
We started full time with previous experiences as entrepreneurs. (Sofia, founder of Whitepod, an eco-tourism camp in Valais and Ludovic, founder of Montagne Alternative, a hotel concept in the Swiss Alps)
How was your beginnings, bottling your first juices?
Funny, scary and moments of complete desolation! Imagine cooking a beautiful meal for 2, then imagine trying the same thing for 1000 people. This was us as we started pressing and bottling in our first factory.
How did you know you had a good idea and that it was going to be successful?
We didn’t. What we knew is that we wanted to do it. We wanted to challenge ourselves and the market with a new economic vision. And we wanted to do this with an inspiring, lively and healthy act: drinking a natural, home made, local product.
How did you finance your project?
Family and friends.
How did you market and promote Opaline Factory when you started?
We shared our passion day in day out with whoever wanted to hear us!
What do you like most being an entrepreneur?
Creativity. Perseverance. Using business as a force for good.
What has been your biggest challenge/failure as an entrepreneur?
Just being one can be both at the same time! But we learn to enjoy the challenge and learn from our mistakes.
What are your next business goals with Opaline Factory?
Seeing our foundation grow and the amount of projects it can support as more people drink our products.
What's your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Believe in your idea from the bottom of your heart. Be daring. Be sincere and honest. Be ready to be challenged. Be ready to adapt. Be ready to fail and stand up again.
What's your favourite quote?
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito” Anita Roddick.
This is another great story on launching a business by doing something you're passionate about while having a purpose of using business as a force for good. Growing your business while helping your community to grow with you.
It is also an inspiring story on believing in your idea, daring to try and trusting your gut feelings.
To learn more about Opaline Factory or if you're visiting Switzerland and want to try their delicious juices, go to their website at www.opaline-factory.ch