New eco-business bucks the trend

Business in Cornwall
(L to R) Ecoco owner Abigail Billinge and Cornish Mutual Inspector Roger Hawkings viewing some of the products on sale at the new shop in Penryn.

An eco-friendly start-up business in Cornwall is set to beat the credit crunch by opening a brand new shop selling organic and fair trade jewellery and clothing supported by South West insurance firm Cornish Mutual.

Ecoco, based at Jubilee Wharf in Penryn, is the brainchild of 30 year old Abi Billinge who already runs her own on-line company, Absolution Saves. The shop, which opened earlier this month, is billed as a ‘showcase’ for a number of small, ethical Cornish businesses and products, including clothing made out of recycled plastic bottles from Penzance and recycled copper jewellery.

Abi, Ecoco’s Creative Director, says: “Everything we do is about Cornwall and supporting local designer makers and retailers – I’m keen to champion new, different and interesting things happening on our doorstep. I wanted to show everything in one place and make it as local as possible. I don’t think people realise the level of quality there is here in the South West.”

Abi, who designs and makes her own products, chose Cornish Mutual for her small business insurance because the firm was founded and is based in the county. The company, through its local Inspector Roger Hawkings, is providing public liability, contents and commercial insurance for the new venture.

She adds: “Everything about Cornish Mutual fits with our ethos and I want to keep as much in Cornwall as humanly possible. The company was my first port of call and the personal service and attention to detail has been fantastic. Roger has been hugely enthusiastic and confident in what I’m doing. It’s great that someone from Cornish Mutual has seen first-hand what we’re about; there was no call centre to deal with and Roger knows the local area and our business personally.”

Roger (pictured), who looks after Members in Falmouth, Mullion, Helford, The Lizard and Helston is keen to praise Abi for her entrepreneurial spirit:

“It’s a tough time for many small businesses across the South West at the moment and I think what Abi is doing with Ecoco deserves a huge amount of support and recognition for her efforts. We are proud of our association and history of helping local new and small businesses with bespoke insurance products and never has it been a more important time to get behind companies like Abi’s.”

Roger visited the shop in Penryn in order to understand the insurance needs and has been back since to make sure Abi had everything in place.

Abi says: “Roger assessed the situation for himself and could see that our shop is located in a new building. He was able to see that despite our location, there was no flood risk, unlike other national insurance firms who work remotely and don’t know the geography of the local area.

“This makes a huge difference – someone actually comes out and works with us to make sure we are happy. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer person to deal with and am very grateful for the service given.”

“There has been a lot of local interest in the shop, what we’re about and what we do - word of mouth has been invaluable and I’m confident that we’re getting off to a good start.”

Cornish Mutual has offices in Exeter and Truro, employs 65 Members of staff and provides insurance products for people and businesses across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset.

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