Flexi-Hex - Circular by Design

Tell us about how Flexi-Hex came to be?

Will (my twin and co-founder) and I, were becoming increasingly frustrated with the impact that single-use plastic was having on our local and the world’s marine environment. Our passion for surfing and personal experience of transporting boards around the globe inspired us to create a sustainable packaging sleeve for the boardsports industry. And it all grew from there.

 

What is the background you both worked in before - have you worked together before in another way?

Before Flexi-Hex, we had an interior design agency that specialised in healthcare and commercial spaces. So, with this background alongside our experience of setting up and running a company together, we took the big leap into Flexi-Hex.

 

What are the strengths and weaknesses of working with your choice of family?

We’re mirror twins, which means our brains are dominant on opposite sides and therefore our skillsets complement each other almost perfectly. Will oversees everything operations and finance, while I lead the creative side of things including product research and development. The weakness of this, we think anyway, is our communication with the rest of the team as we have the cliched twin thing of understanding each other with few words.

How has your love of the ocean affected your career?

I think our love of the ocean affects everything we do – beyond just our career. Flexi-Hex was born out of a love for it and our mission to protect it is what gets us out of bed every morning. Being based in Cornwall and having the sea on our doorstep also guides our work-life balance. Getting outdoors and being active is something we’re passionate about and encourage across our small but mighty team at Flexi-Hex.

 

What type of impact are you wanting to achieve with Flexi-Hex?

I think our goal is a clear one; to remove plastic from the packaging industry and raise awareness of the environmental threats currently facing our world. Our philosophy is around having a positive mindset and focussing our energy into creating practical and innovative solutions that ultimately help reduce the amount of packaging waste ending up in marine environments.

 

When did you realise you were on to something with Flexi-Hex?

The moment the first prototype went over the nose of a surfboard and we saw the sleeve adapt its form to the shape of the board.

How did the R&D process go - was it long? Did you have support via consultants etc?

It took 6-8 months from the day we came up with the idea to when we had our first sleeve in our hand. It all stemmed from a childhood fascination with origami to be honest; we started exploring how we could push existing packaging solutions further and were particularly inspired by designs that can adapt and form around a product, rather than remaining rigid. Then, inspiration struck one day in the supermarket when I saw how a mango was packaged with an expandable mesh sleeve. We married these two ideas together and developed what is now the Flexi-Hex sleeve.

 

What is your businesses mission? How do you measure your success with achieving this?

41% of plastic produced globally is for packaging and 93% of all plastic waste is currently not recycled. So, our mission is to provide businesses with an easy solution that allows them to strip plastic from their packaging and replace it with a product that is easily recyclable and promotes a circular economy.

One stat we’re using to measure our success is how much plastic we’ve removed from the packaging industry to date. When we last did the math, we’ve replaced around 621km of bubble wrap, the equivalent in distance of London to Frankfurt.

With great innovation, sometimes you look at the ideas and wonder “how did we never think of this before?” Do you relate to this idea - as if something is so obviously brilliant that it is incredible that others’ haven’t done it sooner?

Great question! We really did have a eureka moment when we were designing it. Our packaging uses a really simple design using materials already widely produced, so we couldn’t believe it when we discovered we really were the first people to create something like this and were able to patent it.

 

What is the next steps for Flexi-Hex? Next year? 5 years?

We’re growing rapidly, it’s an exciting time! Our bottle packaging solutions are by far the most popular range we have and over 25% of the UK distilleries are already using Flexi-Hex. So, we want to continue making waves in this sector but on a global scale. We’ve just launched a new tissue-paper based sleeve for the cosmetics and electronics industry so this will also be a focus over the next year.

The next 5 years? Another good question, we’re talking to some significant global brands who have some plausible sustainable goals to reach by 2030, so we’re looking forward to helping these companies strip plastic from their supply chains.

Other brands to shout about that you are inspired by? Love?

Patagonia, Aesop and Vivo Barefoot are all brands that I’m inspired by and respect. They have sustainability at their core, really clear brand messages and strong mission values.