Buy me once
Laura Cartledge meets the entrepenuer behind a new venture which is set to change the way we shop.
We are used to seeing ‘use by’ dates on products, but what if packaging included an expected expiry date?
If we knew how long a kettle, shoes, or even a pen would last, chances are it would change our shopping habits and this concept is key to Tara Button’s business venture.
Buy Me Once – the aptly named website created by the former Mayfield student – has attracted worldwide attention at a time when there’s a move to put the throwaway culture out on the kerb.
“The idea came from working in advertising. One of my clients was Le Creuset, who make the lovely cast iron pots,” recalls Tara.
“The lifetime guarantee got me thinking that if more people bought products like this, rather than the throwaway products it would make a big difference environmentally.”
When searching for ‘a site that gathered all of those products together’ turned up very little, Tara admits ‘the idea kept nagging me to do something about it’.
So she put plans in motion, pulling together the skills needed to make it a reality.
“It was very much a project on the side of what I was doing,” she reveals. “Then, the Telegraph article about it came out in January and it went completely viral.
“I was getting emails saying how great it was and ‘why aren’t you in Canada?’ and ‘I hope you are coming to Australia soon’.
“The world went completely mental for me for a couple of weeks, actually it still is now,” Tara laughs. “I was at the BBC yesterday about a show and I have been asked to write a book.
“I had to walk into my boss’ office on the Monday morning and say ‘this is happening, I need to ride this wave’. He was so cool, he didn’t make me work my notice as he knew time was of the essence.”
Despite having ‘lovely people’ to help now, Tara confesses the business is still based around her kitchen table.
However the aspirations are far from small scale.
“We are trying to make it law that manufacturers will have to say on their packaging how long things are expected to last,” she explains. “The impact could be huge if this takes off.
“When you are trying to buy a kettle in John Lewis it can be hard, you can go for the more expensive ones but that is not always a guarantee.
“But if they had to standby it, it would be in their interest to make things last.”
While Buy Me Once boasts an impressive list – including ‘darn tough’ socks with a lifetime guarantee – there’s still a lot Tara wants to track down.
“Electrical appliances have been really hard,” she confesses. “I gave up on the electric kettles in the end, I have a stove top one now.
“It can be very frustrating if you can’t find what you want, but I think it is important that we do turn people down.”
To help with her quest, and to support the ‘many talented designers and engineers out there’, Tara also puts out challenges – with the one at the moment calling for someone to come up with the ultimate little black dress.
The brief is no mean feat, with the criteria including it lasting more than 60 years of being worn once a week, a changeable shape and a sustainable making process.
“Our economy has to change otherwise we will be in big trouble,” enthuses Tara. “We need to move towards a circular economy, so it is service based not product based and it is in manufacturer’s interest for things not to break.”
To do this, Tara believes it is ‘partly a mental shift’ on the consumer’s behalf but she insists she doesn’t hold them at fault.
“I am not wagging my finger at them, saying they are buying the wrong things, they are not being given the choice,” she argues.
“Until they are given the information you can’t blame the consumer for buying cheap and cheerful. You can search by price when online shopping but you can’t search by longevity for instance,” Tara adds. “If you could my job would be a lot easier.”
To find out more about Buy Me Once, visit www.buymeonce.com
Picture of Tara Button by Heathcliff O’Malley