Popee makes sense of toilet paper

Audrey Destang received the 2022 Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Origine France Garantie label before the summer. Marion Father

FIGARO DEMAIN – The start-up founded by Audrey Destang sells organic disposable hygiene products, without additives and 100% “made in France”.

QWho knew that one day Audrey Destang, CEO of Popee, would start selling disposable daily hygiene products (toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, etc.). Not her, and yet… “I had no network, no money, but a mad desire to set up my box”explains this 32-year-old Bordelaise graduate from Essec who started in 2015 at a rating agency.

But after four years, this daughter of philosophy professors feels ready to get started. And she knows what she wants to do: recycle the dry wood on the floor of the pine forests that her family owns in the Landes… into toilet paper, to prevent the felling of 270,000 trees every day and help save the planet. . She is also named after her start-up: Popee, a contraction of “popo” and “pee” in Anglo-Saxon sauce (“pee”) for overseas sales. And a logo: a chick, in reference to Rabelais’ Gargantua, for whom birds were the sweetest ass torches.

adapt or die

But no paper mill agrees to turn its dry wood into toilet paper. No matter, Audrey Destang maintains the idea of ​​producing toilet paper “made in France” without chlorine additives, but from… recycled household waste, such as used paper from offices in Normandy and Brittany. “I wanted a 100% French value chain (raw materials, processing and distribution) to limit transport and therefore my carbon footprint”, implores the businesswoman, who then convinces a Cotentin factory to produce a small amount of her toilet paper. To see…

At the same time, Audrey Destang – who has invested €30,000 in her start-up – is launching a test presale on Ulule in September 2019. A box. “I was aiming for 5 pallets and ended up with a full truck to deliver”, recalls the young woman who then activates her network to structure herself. She assembles a “council” of friends, from whom she will raise €400,000 in February 2021, then borrow €100,000 from her bank to develop. “It’s hard to start when you don’t have the moneyswears Audrey Destang, who has not been paid for two years. You have to have a separate savings account, be supported by your family and enjoy the risk because you don’t have maternity leave if you get pregnant, nor unemployment insurance if you make a mistake. Fortunately, the business angels don’t stop because I’m alone and pregnant at the head of my start-up, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it.

Above all, Popee survives in 2020 the first confinement that threatens its business model based on three legs: sales to individuals through its website (50% of its activity – free delivery by Colissimo in recyclable packaging), mass distribution in independent brands contracts like Franprix, Intermarché, Leclerc, Système U, etc. (30%) and corporate contracts (20%). “The pandemic has overturned corporate goals and we had to adapt our model so as not to dieexplains Audrey Destang. Individuals took over and understood the problems with package delivery.

a peculiar communication

The current rise in paper prices and energy bills is once again forcing the start-up to adjust its business model. “Being an entrepreneur means constantly adapting to circumstances and knowing how to be comfortable with emotional uplift.“, explains Audrey Destang, who is expecting a second child in mid-November, for the opening of the first Popee store in the Marais, in Paris. “I hadn’t planned that either…”

His participation in the 2nd season of “Who wants to be my partner?” on the M6 ​​in February 2022, from which it will exit without funding, has finally given unexpected visibility. “We had the equivalent of four months of acquisition (new customers who remained loyal) in ten minutes”, says the mother. A TV ticket that will also open the doors to new distributors, such as the Parisian Franprix or some Carrefour hypermarkets. “Our goal now is to stabilize the share of e-commerce at 40% of our activity so that we will never depend on large retailers again”explains Audrey Destang, who will expand her range (with an intimate gel or biodegradable poop bags for animals) to “become a family brand” and so suggest “a more complete and diversified offer”.

Thanks to the unusual communication on social networks (TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), by email and SMS, Popee is a success. All of its products are made in France and the start-up, which has just completed a beautiful €1 million fundraiser (Thibault Laughon, founder of Sézane, has put up a big ticket) will have 14 employees before the end of the year. ‘ year. It has a target of 1.4 million euros in sales in 2022 (ie, growth of 100% in one year) and plans to launch in the Italian market in 2023. Peak of recognition, Audrey Destang received before being awarded the prize for entrepreneur year 2022 by the Origine France Garantie seal. What else?

Le Figaro

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