Ziah Lane from NO ISSUES are revolutionising the paper industry with their 100% tree free soft tissues.
So, Ziah, tell us about your business…
NO ISSUES are 100% tree free soft tissues in a range of bamboo soft-tissues, toilet tissues, travel tissues and paper towels that are revolutionising the paper industry. Combatting the devastating affect deforestation is having on the planet, giving Australian shoppers an environmentally friendly option when purchasing household paper goods.
Did you always dream of opening your own business or was there something else you wanted to be ‘when you grew up’?
I have always had a drive to become an entrepreneur who does things differently. My father is an inventor of medical devices and has passed his ability to think differently to me.
Prior to launching NO ISSUES, I was the director of branding and design company, Vive Creative, for ten years. It was that background that gave me the confidence and experience to launch my own company, and bring NO ISSUES to life.
What inspired you to finally open your business?
NO ISSUES was inspired by my personal passion for environmental sustainability (I’m a self-proclaimed ‘eco-warrior!’). After being horrified to learn that four billion trees are cut down every year for global paper production, I wanted to play a part in protecting future generations and preserving our planet by introducing an eco-friendly, everyday paper product to consumers, and making the switch really simple.
Notably, I have never had a lack of motivation. Complete love and obsession for the brand has kept me really inspired!
What has been your biggest challenge so far? What obstacles have you overcome?
Where do I start! Major challenges include cash flow management, rapid growth and having to raise money at short notice.
I’ve learned to overcome the act of purchasing stock well in advance and balancing it with orders from the supermarkets that change weekly, whilst taking into account their extended trading terms.
Offering an alternative to paper products that won’t hurt the planet empowers people to make a choice to help the environment…
And what has been your greatest business achievement?
Seeing the NO ISSUES product and brand come to life made me extremely proud, and still does. Overall, the biggest win is being recognised and supported by the grocery buyers to start this change for consumers and challenge the products we use and how they impact the environment.
Another highlight was winning the Australian Women’s Weekly/CPA Australia Women in Business Award. I felt all the hard work, persistence was really worth it and I was really doing something to make a change for good.
Do you have any celebrity followers (fans of your business)? If so, who are they and what product/service do they love?
We’ve had a lot of bloggers and influencers share their love of the product after trialing the range, and sharing with their own audiences, which is great! There are a lot of amazing eco-warriors out there doing good and spreading the TREE FREE message. My hope is that more and more everyday Australian consumers start to make the switch too!
Who is/was your business inspiration?
I’m lucky enough to have a few! My parents and siblings, my good friends, Mia Feasey, Zoe Kelly, Jason Ashton and Caroline Honan, and my mentor, minister Kelly O’Dwyer.
I also think our Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, is an inspirational female figure too.
Were you among the first in your family and friendship group to run your own business? If so, were you supported or discouraged?
Yes – and completely supported by the above people!
Do you have a mentor? (Or did you have a mentor during your business-building phase?) If so, how important was this relationship to your success?
I was lucky enough to be mentored by Kelly O’Dwyer, who was minister for small business and assistant treasurer when I was setting up NO ISSUES. She’s also a Liberal politician and mum – am amazing woman and inspiration to all of us.
Are you a mentor? If so, who do you mentor? Why do you mentor?
Yes, to a Wenona School Alumni.
To help young woman learn from my journey and to encourage young female entrepreneurs.
Do you have a favourite piece that you have designed? Please tell us about it.
My first NO ISSUES tissue box – the design took a year to complete. I started with a range of patterns and colours, and eventually landed on a simple white on craft and in reverse. It now looks so simple you would think it was easy to design!
Do you have an exit strategy? Do you think you could ever sell the company and move on to something else?
Yes, there is always a exit strategy, however I’m so immersed in the brand and have so many more products, ideas and retailers to introduce.
Are you involved in philanthropy? If so, what causes are close to your heart?
Not yet, but I want to be in a position to do so. Causes that are close to my heart are Children hospitals and Cancer Foundations.
And, if involved, why do you think it’s important for women business owners to be philanthropic?
I believe it’s extremely important to give to important causes when you can. No matter how small, we need to band together as communities to not only ease social and economical problems, but solve them.
What’s the best business advice you’ve been given? And by who?
I love this from Vincent van Gogh:
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh
What’s the most humorous piece of business advice you’ve been given? And by who?
An ongoing joke my brother David (who is a businessman himself) and I have is the origin of the company name, NO ISSUES.
From conception, I’ve constantly worked on ways to problem solve and in turn, adopted the attitude of ‘what no issues do we have to deal with today?’, which is often a laughing point with everyone involved in the company.
What’s the best business tip you can offer our readers?
I believe our success lies in the fact we have created a product that consumers want. Offering an alternative to paper products that won’t hurt the planet empowers people to make a choice to help the environment – something that’s becoming more and more important to Australian consumers.
What’s next for your business?
I’m planning on expanding the range this year to include NO ISSUES wet wipes, as well as a six-pack toilet paper range due to hit shelves next month. Furthermore, the NO ISSUES growth strategy is to sell to airlines, petrol stations, and independent retailers, hotels and to the overseas markets. We want every business and every consumer to join the green movement and switch to TREE FREE!
We will of course continue to develop the range of products focusing on innovative and environmental solutions for the modern day consumer.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I think people are becoming much more conscious of the purchasing decisions they make, and acknowledging their everyday choices (even ones we’re sometimes not mindful about like drinking our morning coffee and doing the grocery shopping) can play a part in preserving our planet.
I also think there is a trend in people wanting to know more about what they’re putting in their bodies, and craving a more holistic, natural way of living…it’s all sort of gone away from us, as if it’s out of our hands, but it shouldn’t be that way.
At A Glance
Business name: NO ISSUES
Business Structure: SME
Location: Sydney, Australia
Year business established: 2012
Your Position: Founder/Director
Annual Turnover: $2M
Number of employees: 8, as well as the support of a mentor, a PR team and logistics.
Name: Ziah Lane
Marital Status: Not married
Do you work from home, the office or a combination of both? Combination of both. I’m often travelling to meet suppliers and customers, so you’ll often find me working from cafes or airport, as well as in my home office!
Typical work week: I tend to be working all the time (for me it’s not work, it’s fun!), although I try to keep Sundays Free.
Typical work schedule (Mon-Fri etc): See above.
Memberships, Associations: I’m about to join the League of Extraordinary Women.
First published April 2017.