"We want to show local people that the sustainable choice can still be the cost-effective one..."
Single use plastic pollution between the toes becomes catalyst for pioneering business
A family holiday has become the inspiration behind one of the most successful and pioneering businesses of its kind on Merseyside right now.
Founder and owner Antony Strode was on a beach holiday with his partner when he walked down to the public section of the beach away from the pristine daily-cleaned hotel beach and was instantly greeted along with his partner, with a huge amount of single use plastic.
“We immediately thought it was a local problem give that it’s a public beach,” said Antony.
“Upon closer inspection, we could see that some of the writing on the plastic was in English. It really brought it home to us that the issue very much lies back in the UK.”
Antony and his partner Rachel received some amazing news twelve months later that they were expecting a baby, but all could think about was how terrified he was for the baby’s future!
“It was awesome news, but I also had one of those 'the world is going to die' moments halfway through the pregnancy. I needed to do something, we had to at least try and make an impact.”
Antony also owns and operates a construction business and coincidentally, or as he puts it, “a stroke of luck” in needing to upsize the company’s existing premises, he went to view a site consisting of a warehouse/workshop/trade counter.
“Admittedly, it was in an industrial area, but with a beautiful mezzanine and full height windows. I instantly thought this would be a great opportunity to bring a zero-waste store and a health food cafe to the north of the city.”
Antony was additionally inspired because the area of the city where Little World was conceived, Bootle, does have health statistics skewed negatively towards poor diet and general physical & mental health.
Antony continued: “The biggest challenge was always going to be getting local people in the area engaged in thinking about the impact of their daily food & drink choices.
“Admittedly, sustainability has a perception amongst some of being elitist and in certain instances is a luxury some people can't afford. Ultimately, some people have a very different and limited set of choices compared with someone who is financially secure and the wider options that brings.
“As a proud Liverpudlian from the area, I was keen to fathom a way of overcoming some of the challenges presented. We decided reasonably quickly that engaging with local schools & community groups needed to be our number one priority in reaching out to the general public and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Antony and his Little World team are currently looking to bid for funding that will allow the community-driven business to provide free educational support for families at risk of e.g. food poverty.
“We want to show local people that the sustainable choice can still be the cost-effective one. Food waste for instance and buying pre-packaged food from the supermarket can often lead to buying more than you need and food going to waste. This is often owing to skill shortages in cooking & nutrition.”
Little World is also planning to grow sustainable organic produce on five acres of land plus stock plastic-free organic wholefoods. It’s also developing an outdoor community kitchen concept on site where everything will be cooked from scratch.
“Since opening 8 months ago, we’ve seen the cafe element of the business become a runaway success and the appetite, excuse the pun, for Little World food is growing by the day. Looking back, and as a small business, we’ve been very bold and created a place that the local community are 100% ready for.
“We embarked on a three-month refurbishment programme before opening and the result was a beautiful space. We haven't stopped adding to the site since opening in February too. It’s gone from a coffee & cake cafe to a fully operational kitchen with another round of works due to increase seats from 30 to 50 plus the addition of night-time programmes.
“We have also built a pod on the car park for yoga/children's classes/workshops. And we’re expanding our product lines weekly looking to ensure we are giving our customers the sustainable shopping options they need to make easy eco swaps.”
Little World is currently looking into a second site in Liverpool city centre.
Antony added: “We will be scaling up improvements and adding new elements to the business to include not only healthy food but ways to help people have a healthy mind and body too. The sky's the limit for the concept and if we can make it work in an industrial estate on the outskirts of the city then we feel there will be great opportunities to take it anywhere.
“Along the way we’ve had massive support from family and friends and that has reflected in the feel in the team. Little World really is a family and all our staff are pretty much vegan and eco-minded individuals. That shines through in the food, the atmosphere and the daily feedback from our loyal customers.
“I think the whole Little World project - from food quality, sustainability, community give back & social inclusion is in a great place to move to a town near you and help people move seamlessly to a low impact lifestyle.”
Little World, 2 Dunnings Bridge Road, Liverpool. L30 6TA.