Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Chris Forbes (CF): I am from the Highlands of Scotland, I grew up with nature and am a very outdoors person. I have always had a curious mind and am not afraid to take risks, which are both traits of a good entrepreneur.
MB: What led you to start Cheeky Panda?
CF: It was my partner Julie’s idea to use bamboo, the world’s fastest growing plant, as an alternative to trees. We didn’t rush into it. We had a lot of planning in samples, a business plan and a visit to China before setting up Cheeky Panda.
MB: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
CF: Trees take 30 years to harvest . So, in a world of stretched resources, it seems crazy to use trees when bamboo grows so much faster.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now?
CF: Scaling Cheeky Panda across multiple geographies and getting the brand known. We know when people try our products they love them, so it’s about getting the products into the hands of consumers and making them available via retailers and online.
MB: What is your vision for the future of your business?
CF: For Cheeky Panda to become a public company. We believe that the public markets and the world economy will be better if the companies in them have sustainability at their core, rather than a box-ticking exercise.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
CF: Make sure you have a good solution, make your communication is clear and easy to understand, plan ahead and work with great partners.
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
CF – Eloquence is an art, make complicated things simple by thinking through the solution before starting the endeavour.
MB – Who inspires you?
CF – Elon Musk
MB – How do you define success?
CF – For me, success will be to create a legacy of positive change for future generations.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
CF – You can’t be good at everything. Just concentrate on your strengths, and surround yourself with people that are strong where you are weak.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
CF – “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelias
MB – What do you do to relax?
CF – Spend time with my family.
Discover the other MB100 leaders recognised for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2020, here.