The Cheeky Panda: Paper Doesn’t Just Grow On Trees

A packet of The Cheeky Panda bamboo anti-bacterial surface wipes.

Sustainable lifestyle brand, The Cheeky Panda, which specialises in tissue alternatives, has grown from a two-man start-up to a £55m business in just four years.

The Cheeky Panda’s range of alternatives includes toilet tissue, kitchen roll, hand wipes, and straws, amongst others. All of their products are made from responsibly sourced, naturally sustainable, FSC-approved bamboo, which isn’t currently being fully utilised.

Bamboo is the worlds fastest growing plant, growing up to 1m per day, and doesn’t require replanting after harvest, making it highly efficient.

Using bamboo eliminates the use of harsh chemicals, found in regular and recycled paper products, and it produces 65% less carbon emissions than conventional tissue – and has saved thousands of trees and animal habitats around the world.

The Cheeky Panda is a BCorp company and is proud to boast net zero emissions. The brand is certified vegan and cruelty-free, by the Vegan Society and Cruelty Free International, and is largely plastic-free, with the aim of eradicating the remaining plastics from their packaging by the end of 2020.

Founded in 2016, by couple Chris Forbes and Julie Chen, The Cheeky Panda has already saved 120,000 trees, whilst becoming a business success story. The brand has expanded into more than 25 countries, including coast-to-coast in the USA and China.

To assist in their rapid and high-level growth, The Cheeky Panda raised over £5m in crowdfunded investments, through Seedrs. In May, the company turned over £1m, which is the first time they have achieved that in a single month. Sales have been increasing at a rate of 300% to 500% every year, since 2017.

The Cheeky Panda were named ‘number six’ on the Startups 100 list for 2020, jumping from 78 in 2018, and their baby wipes were ranked ‘best new product launch’ by Nielsen Data in 2019 — this year, the wipes were voted ‘product of the year.’

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Forbes and Chen now intend to list the business on the London or New York Stock Exchange and are working to be one of the first pure play green companies and one of the first BCorps to go through the public listing process.

“Taking a company from concept to market at this rapid pace has been highly exciting. Many people said to us from the outset it wouldn’t work and that we couldn’t compete with the established brands, or why use bamboo when there is nothing wrong with trees for tissue. It’s been fun proving the doubters wrong and showing there is a high demand for more sustainable ethically produced tissue products.

We’ve achieved exceptionally high growth in such a short period on a bootstrapped model of not spending more than we make. With only £5million in capital we have turned it into £50million market cap so imagine what we could do with say a £200m IPO, we’d quickly become a multi-billion-pound company and that excites us.

We see ourselves as pioneers in the green space, in 10 years’ time I’d like to see the majority of the FTSE100 filled with companies that put sustainability ahead of profitability and contribute to a fairer society that is not based on exploitation of people or resources. If we can inspire other green companies to list and compete with less sustainable or less ethical business models, then we will see a green revolution with the same or perhaps bigger impact than what technology has delivered over the past 30 years, creating high yield for our investors and making the world a better place.

Chris Forbes and Julie Chen, founder of The Cheeky Panda

The Cheeky Panda are a number one bestseller on Amazon and are available at some of the world’s top retailers, including Boots, EkoPlaza, MonoPrix, and Carrefour.

You can also buy directly from the brand, or just find out more about them, here.