4 Lessons Learned Building a Sustainable Building Materials Company in Aotearoa

4 Lessons Learned Building a Sustainable Building Materials Company in Aotearoa
I remember being an architecture graduate 11 years ago working on an airport fit out for the Far North wishing I had better materials to choose from.

I had the choice of using a refined material with a beautiful finish only to find that it ended up in landfill and was made with a list of ingredients I couldn't pronounce.

I tried really hard to find sustainable materials but the few options that existed at the time were fuck ugly and didn't fit the project brief.

I remember feeling so frustrated. And one day as I was sitting in the office I naively thought to myself: 'Maybe I should start the company so that I could have better material options for my own projects.'

Today Critical. is part of the wave of a growing green building materials movement worth over $330B globally, and as luck would have had it, I wasn't the only designer who felt and continues to feel this pain.

As a startup entrepreneur today, I would fully tell my younger self the following:

1. Embrace your naivety and don't look back. If I knew how hard it was going to be having to build new technology and bring together new material science in order for Cleanstone to work, I wouldn't have started Critical. (criticaldesign.nz)

2. Trust your instincts. Your first ideas are almost always shit and will not work, but your intuition about the product and problem are often right. Be precious with your intuition, not your ideas.

3. Turn off social media and focus on only what you can control. Silence the noise around you that is what other people are doing with their lives, their brand and career highlights. Entrepreneurship have no right formula. Write yours.

4. Seek mentors. Ask people who are a lot smarter than you for advice and support. More times than not, you will hear 'yes'.

Remember, businesses don't fail. Only entrepreneurs give up. By no means have I 'made it', but I'm just in the thick of it and loving it. Aotearoa needs more entrepreneurs to support each others if we are to become world class.


Nicola Tagiston your set of 9mm Forest Cleanstone samples for Fletcher Living is ready for pickup! Made from 100% recycled plastic fishing nets and plastic bags, this mix is definitely one of our favourites! Hope it serves you fullas' project well.
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