Can packaging be sustainable on an island where glass isn't allowed?
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Welcome to sustainable packaging with Cory Connors . Today's guest is Lisa Hennessy . Who's the founder and creative director of Fernweh . How areLisa Hennessy:
you? Hi, Cory . I'm great.Cory Connors:
Thanks. And I'm sorry if I said the name of your company wrong. It's it's a unique pronunciation. Can you say it for us? So we all really know what.Lisa Hennessy:
Well, and the German version I'm saying it would be fan me. And it's kind of like a longing for distant places and then an urge to explore.Cory Connors:
Well, that's a wonderful story and it makes sense why you are located, where you're located. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started , and then really revealed later where you live and we'll all be.Lisa Hennessy:
Sure. I'd love to I'm from Berlin originally. And I think I left and moved to LA at some point because I was cold, but , to lean a little more in the professional background, I And big international ad agencies for a really, really long time, much too long, probably. But it was kind of fun then when you and your early twenties, it's all shiny and cool. And I worked for VW was head of OD for a long time and got to travel the world and shoot with American fantastic photographers and directors and see all kinds of cool, cool locations. But at some point. You kind of get that realization of how sustainable is this and why do we keep lying to people to buy more stuff in a world that clearly doesn't need more stuff. Right. So on that journey from being a creative director in, in Europe first I worked in London for a while in an Amsterdam and Stockholm and Berlin. And then in LA and the even bigger ad agencies at some point it just really felt like I can't. I can't face this ego-driven bro world anymore. And I really wanted to work with people who care to share my values and who applied empathy and actually listened to their clients. So that led me to starting family and there was an LA for, for a few years, and then the pandemic happened and we all packed up and closed the studio, downtown LA and moved to Kauai. That's where I am right now. That's good. Maybe slightly jealousy inducing.Cory Connors:
Well, it's a beautiful place that you live and it sounds like you've got an amazing background. That's exciting. So can you tell us what makes your agency unique? What are you all about?Lisa Hennessy:
I think that background plays a role in it. Like it's that big international brand knowledge that I've worked on for almost 20 years. It feels like now I bring that now and make that accessible to small brands and startups who starting something new that's really meaningful and who could probably not afford to work with a big agency. Like. And then I think what we, what we do so differently than all these agencies or I've, I think that at least I hope it's true. We really care. And we really listen and we really like to collaborate, not only with other great creatives, but also with our clients, because that's the people who actually know all the story, all the details about what they building and I'm in the agency world that often feels like they think. Put it over there in the corner. And so much ego comes through that full, like we know better. And we just tell you what, how it's going to go. And instead of doing that, we just, we really try to be partners of our clients and help them along this really scary entrepreneurial journey sometimes. And kind of hold their hands through that early stage scary stuff where you have to focus on so many things. Yeah. Branding is mostly not something that everyone's an expert in. So we do that and we really like to get a really deep strategic foundation going first. So we want to understand your story, your values, where someone's coming from, but also the cultural moment in time. And then on top of that, we can build something truly unique, truly authentic to whatever brand it is. And that's anything from a brand launch, right? From the start kind of a rebrand for clients who are ready to pivot into a more sustainable future with us, or we just do brand campaigns or photo shoots and video shoots and all those good things in between.Cory Connors:
That's excellent. Are you finding a lot of your clients are focusing on sustainable movements now, like including packaging.Lisa Hennessy:
I mean, you have to write, I feel like it's more and more of a of a conversation that you have to have with every client. When we started out, it was a little harder than that, because often it was the companies who didn't have big budgets, but nowadays I think big companies are being forced to think rethink what they're doing because of the transparency of that age of technology that we're in. Right. So people are not satisfying. The lies of my previous career of like advertising world, where you just like hide all the bad stuff and tell them the shiny version of the thing. Nowadays, I think people want to know what's actually going on behind the curtains. And sustainability is, is a huge factor for that.Cory Connors:
Yeah. People companies would say, oh, look over here, we're doing something good. Yeah. But don't worry about this stuff. That's not as important, right?Lisa Hennessy:
Yeah, absolutely. And so much of that is greenwashing, right? I'm sure you know, all this, it's the name and the colors are all for Maya as a creative director. From my standpoint, I see that a lot. Like, and it's so, so sad sometimes because I feel like people are ready to. Go along on the journey with you. Like we encourage our brands that we work with to be open and transparent, and sometimes the sustainability that they want to achieve. Isn't really doable in that very moment when they just starting out when maybe it's not as accessible the materials that they will want Not financially viable, but at least having that mission and bringing people along on that journey to keep keeping up with research and keeping up with development, like we, we call our branding process circular because we feel like it's not something that sits like a one and done thing, but instead it's, it's something you always have to work towards. Your brand is like the north star. And when part of that vision for it is sustainability, then I think it has to be then. Packaging might not be perfect from the start, but it'll certainly be something that will keep developing towards being as sustainable as possible. And maybe even more so than just sustainable. I hope for more regenerative materials and more things that, that not just take from the planet. I feel like we've done that for a really long time. Now it's time to return the favor and give back a little bit. So hopefully there's a good progressCory Connors:
in the future. Oh, absolutely. And I can assure you, there's a huge amount of progress coming. It's very exciting to be a part of the packaging world today. I've been in this industry for 24 years, and I've never seen this many innovations in sustainable packaging, this many new ideas, this many new laws saying. You're going to be sustainable like it or not, which is good. It's time. It's like you said, it's time to fix some, some previous mistakes and do a better job. Can you tell us about maybe a a client of yours that you really felt passionately about? Hey, this is a real sustainable initiative that they came up with, or we came up with.Lisa Hennessy:
I mean, yes. Definitely. There's there's a few we're working on, but all, all of them, I feel like have challenges and are not perfect yet, but I love that they willing to go on that journey with us and bring their customers along. I think it's anything from like, we worked with an incredible sunscreen company. That really wanted to redefine what like clean sunscreen even means, because so much of that again is like that whole green washing of it says it's very friendly. And then when you read the ingredients, it's clearly not. So not only did they create a product that's outstanding, but also they were ready to go beyond just refresh only. And they, they are partnering with some great companies on, on Hawaii and other. Where were they rebuilding reefs and they are doing beach cleanups and all kinds of things. So for them, it was like an interesting challenge for us to come up with the most sustainable packaging. And my first instinct was to say, okay, glass. And then we make an refillable and local stores. That sounds really good. Getting glass to Hawaii not so easy. And then also the main, the main target as a luxury resorts, who would never let you take glass bottles to a pool or anything like that. So we ended up working with ocean waste, plastic. Which is a really great starting point. I feel like it makes me really happy to see what they do. And I think it's so important right now, but my problem is with that, like, where's the circularity of this, like who guarantees that this beautiful bottle doesn't end up back in the ocean afterwards, and then we just have to keep fishing it out and keep remaking it. So I'm hoping that there will be something better in the future that is FDA approved and healthy and clean and all the, all the good things. But for now I think. This is the best that we came up with and it feels really important what they do, and it's wonderful to watch them grow. Another really cool one that we work with is a really small, but really lovely and mighty ice cream company. They ended the term beyond organic and it feels really true because they. Work with local farmers here. So we support all the regenerative farming that's going on and they about to open their first physical location. So we're trying to make that as zero waste as possible, but again, it's really challenging with glass. What containers do you use? Do you just have like a cone on hand? That's the most sustainable thing? How do you take it home? It's an ongoing challenge, I want to say, but it's been really rewarding to see these companies make a big difference and care so much about their communities on the planet and just are so willing to go beyond what's in the budget and maybe easy. And I think it's always that right. It's that extra step that you have to go, and sometimes it's not convenient and it's not cheap. So I'm always thrilled to , find clients that are just so excited to do.Cory Connors:
That's a great point. It's it's not easy to do what we're, what we're trying to do. And a lot of people don't understand why does this take six months? Why does this take nine months to think all this through? And it's because it's unique. We've it's not been done before, or we're trying something new. Or we're looking at things at different way and that, that requires patience. And that's, I think that's my main message here is education and patients like give us some time we got to work on this together and , we'll all help solve some of these problems. Well that ice cream shop be on the big island or on, on your, on.Lisa Hennessy:
I haven't, they don't collide right now, but we'll see where it goes.Cory Connors:
We like to visit Maui occasionally. And so if there's ever one over there, let us know.Lisa Hennessy:
So tell us about The future of sustainable packaging. Do you think like you mentioned glass, is that, is that possible to, to make a glass packaging on the, on the islands there? Or is it just, you need to focus on more recyclable plastics and paper items?Lisa Hennessy:
I mean, recycling is a big problem by itself, but I probably don't have to go into right now, especially on a, on a place like we are at now, even in California, though, where we were before, it's difficult. Like LA doesn't have composting. So when all these great biodegradable cups and food containers came out, everyone felt like free to use them constantly. And then when you ask where they even go, it's not so bright and shiny anymore. Right. So. I do hope that there's more and more stores that offer zero waste options where you can come with your own containers and things are refillable. But in general, I think when I think about the future of sustainable packaging or the future of any of these things, it feels to me like this, there's a lot of room for collaboration and more transparency, because this is like a common goal that we all have. Like all these companies have, of course their profit margins and the. Their yearly turnaround that they have to fulfill and all that, but we're more than that. We all have that same goal of wanting to do better for the planet and for our people. And in this we can align and then think I've noticed at least on that little bit of compared to what you do, probably a little bit of research that we do with our clients. According to each company that we work with. Everyone. I reached out to who I find and I'm excited about they so helpful. They so willing to share material suppliers, knowledge, and it, it, that it makes me really excited and optimistic about a future where I hope that we get together and I'm just like support each other more because this, this isn't something. The profit margin, that's going to change your business versus someone else's. So you keep it a secret. We all want this to be easier. So I think seeing people sharing that knowledge and their suppliers gets me really hopeful and excited. I mean, other than that, I think mushrooms are really cool. Right. I'm seeing the materials that are being developed out of natural waste materials I've found. I think a fabric company made out of orange. Waste from orange juice and apple cores the other day. And yeah, lots of cool packaging and leather made out of mushrooms. So anything in that realm gets me really excited.Cory Connors:
I just interviewed literally 20 minutes ago a guy from a company called. Life elements incorporated. And they ma they use, mycelium, mushroom packaging. It's a, and he sent me some of the material and it's really cool. And it places styrofoam which is awesome.Lisa Hennessy:
That's really exciting. Yeah.Cory Connors:
Yeah. So. I'm very excited to talk about this. This is a service that you offer at your agency and it's a brand retreat. Can you walk us through how we can sign up for this? Because I don't even have an intention of starting a brand, but I want to do one of these things. How does itLisa Hennessy:
work? Oh, you should definitely come. I think it's just our way of figuring out how to. Turn the demands of so many clients that want to do things faster and in like absolutely no time. And we certainly didn't want to revert back to agency habits where you just work people to death and like no weekends, no nothing. So we said, okay, we'll just make it fun then. And we. Invite people to quiet. We create this really beautiful and secluded setting. That's super inspiring. And we go between like intensive, collaborative work sessions to exploring this incredibly inspiring place. As a creative I've always believed that you can't, you can't keep creating from a place of absolute exhaustion. Like so many agency people do right. And keep working and working, working, and they expect you to come up with new, innovative things. And it just doesn't work like that. So, We really go into this play versus work versus play. And it's, it's incredible to see what can come out in just three days of doing this. Just by allowing ourselves to really dive deep. There's no distractions, there's nothing else. We're just really focused on one client and it can be anything from like a problem they want to solve with us to a new brand that we can build in that amount of time. It's wild to see what, what can happen in this magical.Cory Connors:
That's fascinating. So it could be you could go surfing, you could go for hikes. You can all the things that quiet offers what a brilliant idea.Lisa Hennessy:
Thank you. Forward to welcomingCory Connors:
you for an excellent. Oh, I appreciate it. So do you have a, is it one customer at a time or you have, can you haveLisa Hennessy:
a. I think so. And it's like, it can be a couple of people, but I think it's one company or one problem at a time. At least we haven't figured out a group version of that yet we can certainly do that, but it would be more of like a guided thing. That's like self, self solving. The problem where we do it at the moment is we do it for you. And you're obviously there as that collaborative partner knows everything about Seth problem or busy. But it's very much like, that's why it's so efficient to have asked for these three days and you get all these beautiful, inspirational breaks, but it's also a lot of like, that's how a lot of the thinking happens, right. Like I take it all in and I want to discuss it all, but then I want to walk away from it and go on a beautiful hike. And that's where all the good ideas come up. So yeah, we haven't quite figured out how to make it a group thing in the way we want from the quality standpoint that we own right now.Cory Connors:
Sounds like it should stay like you have it. It sounds that to me sounds ideal.Lisa Hennessy:
Yeah. It's been really great. It's really great. Seeing how I get a lot of, a lot of our clients and founders were very much in a type a brain. And so they're having to do all the things, right. So. We're seeing them away from all that for a few days and allowing them to really immerse themselves into the idea of what their brand can look and feel like. And we're so much about values and big visions for something admissions, but something that it's, it's fascinating to see what emerges when you, when you let people really experience that dreaming stage. And that's like that break from reality for a moment.Cory Connors:
Well, and that's what the islands are, are so good at, I think is, is pulling us back to what's really important in that sounds. Yeah.Lisa Hennessy:
And when I, when it comes to sustainability too, I think for me just driving to the post office, I see these beautiful natural surroundings as a waterfall right next to the street. Right. That, just that just a challenge to me to do better every day. And I feel like bringing clients here to see this, and I mean, the opposite happens all around the world. Like you see how devastating the natural the climate has gotten. Right? So we get the beautiful version of this, where we see how beautiful it is, and we want to preserve this and we want to do. Then we have done for so many years. So I think our favorite kinds of clients are the ones who are with us in this who wanted like, really break with how this category has been, has been doing things and are ready to say this, this isn't right. We can do better. And it can be anything from a food to a lever, to the perfume or whatever type of thing, service. It is, it's just that attitude of, we want to do better now that we get really excited about. And that's, that's usually who we work with.Cory Connors:
Well, that sounds amazing. How do people sign up for this? How do, how do we get in touch with.Lisa Hennessy:
I mean, we, we have a free discovery call on our website, it's www.fernweh.land. And I'm German. So I'm very honest and blunt sometimes, I guess. So I usually take these discovery calls really to benefit whoever's signing up for them. And, and sometimes we might not be the right fit and I'm happy to tell them about that and try to make the right recommendation. But I also really want to. Make sure that this, this, this engagement would be a good fit for them and would be beneficial for them. So it's a, it's a helpful conversation. It's half an hour and it's fun. And yeah, I'm, I'm looking forward to just having a few of those and to see if this makes sense or not. We can talk about all kinds of photography and and other projects too. But that, that's probably the easiest way. And then if not Instagram, we're @fernweh.land that's also always a thing where we hang out way too much. Unfortunately.Cory Connors:
Well, I think it's brilliant. And I think I think you're going to start a movement where more branding agencies will do something like this. It's really, really smart. So well done. I'd like to like to thank Landsberg Orora for sponsoring this podcast. And if you're listening, please take a second to make sure you're subscribed and give us a rating. We appreciate it. Thank you so much, Lisa.Lisa Hennessy:
Thank you, Cory . I appreciate it. It was fun.