It was a “split of a second epiphany in the toilet” that turned into a multi-million dollar business.
Yet when it came time to launch his toilet paper company, Who Gives a Crap, Simon Griffiths found bringing such a “gross and disgusting” bodily function-related product to market was a major challenge.
“You literally can’t take a picture of someone using one,” the Sydney entrepreneur said with a laugh.
“It is not possible.”
Mr. Griffiths’ epiphany goes back ten years. He was looking for the right product to experience a new direct-to-consumer business model when he took a life-changing trip to the dunny.
“I walked into the bathroom and said we should sell toilet paper called Who Gives a Crap? and use the proceeds to help build toilets,” he told AAP.
“The flash moment was really that we could actually use a product that everyone else is using and take the profits to help solve the problem with the product.”
Mr Griffiths would wholesale recycled toilet paper and donate half of the company’s profits to building toilets and improving sanitation in developing countries.
An essential product in a market saturated with “puppies and feathers” would become a socially and ecologically sound purchase, convenient while allowing people to feel good about themselves.
“We’ve seen this latent demand from customers who want to buy brands that are more closely aligned with their ethics and values,” Griffiths explained.
“It’s not just about doing the job he needs to do, but about things that have a deeper meaning.”
As such, Who Gives A Crap? is not just a funny brand name, but a real question for consumers to think about when making their purchase.
Courageous innovation paid off.
During his first year in business, Mr. Griffiths wrote a check for $2,500 to donate to sanitation projects.
Last year it was over $10 million.
Pandemic panic purchases of toilet paper may have helped push that number into double digits, he admits.
“It was a testing period for everyone, but especially testing in a toilet paper company.”
“Nobody went to the toilet often anymore, but the bathroom they were going to change.”
At one point during COVID, there was a waiting list of half a million people. They were selling 28 toilet rolls per second.
In 2022, who cares? sold enough toilet paper to go to the moon and back or circumnavigate the globe 867 times.
The company employs 200 full-time people in seven countries and sells in 36 countries.
But it’s this donation metric that excites the team the most.
“We recently came up with one of our first business plans and I think it’s fair to say we pulled the lights on all the projections that were in there,” Mr Griffiths said.
“Not only has it been more successful in the Australian market than I expected, but to see it resonate globally has been amazing.”
By Katelyn Catanzariti
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