Business in Focus

Meet the Makers – Simon Karlik, Cheeki

Meet the Makers was a little delayed today due to my flight from Sydney last night being cancelled, cue the screams of horror! Yes, there will be one complaint letter being written to Jetstar Customer Service ha!

I’ve been very excited to share this Meet the Makers with you as I am a massive fan of the brand, as you can see on my Instagram. Today we are chatting with Simon Karlik from Cheeki – the founder of the very groovy stainless steel straws, stainless steel insulated bottles and more!

Any business who is working towards a better environmentally-friendly future has the tick of approval in my book, and that’s just what Cheeki is doing.

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Simon Karlik, Founder

R. Hi Simon! Thank you for taking part in my Meet the Makers series! Let’s start with the all important question, what lead you to starting Cheeki?

S. I had sold my first business (a brand of outdoor & ski clothing) and had had a good break so was looking for the next idea. I wanted my new business to make a real positive impact on the environment and was getting very tired of seeing single use plastics everywhere. I formed Cheeki with a mission to create a healthy and environmentally-conscious alternative to disposable plastic containers. Cheeki’s range includes reusable bottles, coffee cups, lunchboxes, food jars, straws and tumblers.

R. I love what you are doing over at Cheeki, I took my Cheeki stainless steel bottle and straws all over Hawaii with me!

If you weren’t running Cheeki, what would you be doing?

S. Probably running a smaller and lower-key enterprise and spending much more time in the outdoors. However in saying that, I am incredibly fortunate with the success of Cheeki and that we are based on Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches.

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Cheeki at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu

R. The Northern Beaches is incredibly beautiful. I’ve lived all over Sydney however I haven’t been fortunate enough to reside on that side of the bridge – yet!

What inspired you to run a business that has such heavy focus on the environment?

S. My background is as an outdoor guide/educator so the environment is close to my heart. When you spend so much time outside you develop an appreciation like no other for our environment. I am inspired by the challenge of creation but for me, it needs to make a real and positive difference and Cheeki products have and continue to do so.

R. So true, I mentioned above I popped over to Hawaii 2 weeks ago and I’ve left with this amazing appreciation for the land and the beauty it hold.

Walk us through what an average day looks like for you at Cheeki.

S. The beauty of my job is that it is a real mix – general management of a business sees me working on new products, sales into new markets, managing staff, supplier and customer relationships, accounts, cash flow, stock ordering, quality control, marketing – the whole gamut.

R. It’s great you are able to mix the day up! Anything new on the horizon for Cheeki?

S. Later this year we will be releasing our new Active bottle range which come with “Tri Tech” adjustable flow lids – meaning you can sip straight from the bottle without unscrewing the lid, and have the choice of different rates of flow. This has been a two-year project in the making involving a lot of development.

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Cheeki at Haleiwa Beach, Oahu

R. Wow, 2 years in production. I bet you can’t wait for the release and see all that hard work come alive.

Outside of running Cheeki, what do you get up to for fun? Any hobbies or interests?

S. Currently relaxing out in the fresh air as I’m pretty busy with the growth of Cheeki right now. When not so busy, my main interests are hiking, skiing and kayaking.

R. We are so lucky to have access to all these outdoor activities. I’ve recently started bush walking and it’s so much fun!

What would you say is your favourite part of the day?

S. Early mornings which is right now as I write this – I am clear, relaxed and ready for a great day.

R. Where do you draw your inspiration from each day?

S. Seeing the appreciation that people have for our brand and the knowledge that our message of Refill / Reuse is making a difference and being understood. We receive countless messages from people all over the world testifying to this.

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Cheeki at Espresso Room Northcote (I took these with me!)

R. There is nothing like getting that feedback from customers. I always enjoy seeing your Cheeki social media accounts and how your customers interact with you.

Where is your favourite place in the world to travel to?

S. Montana, USA – my happy place with its friendly people, extraordinary landscapes and sense of history and native culture.

R. Oh one place I haven’t visited, however its on the list.

Who has inspired you most on this journey?

S. It goes without saying, my wife.

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Cheeki at Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i

R. Finally Simon, what would you be doing if money was no object?

S. Live somewhere more rural, relax more, be more active in the outdoors but still do something positive for environmental protection.

R. I think that’s the dream right there isn’t it. I have a similar one to get a place in rural Victoria and run a bed and breakfast.

Thank you again for your time Simon, it’s been a real delight!

If you would like to read more about the Cheeki range, you can do so via the website www.cheeki.net.au plus also follow along on Instagram @cheeki_bottles

Have a smashing week all!

Renee
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