"Growing up, I was an activist in Greenpeace since I was 14, and later became their Media Coordinator for Lebanon and the Arab world, so this kind of experience early on really formed me," Drumstick's solo founder Sherine Abdel Rassoul tells Startup Scene. Drumstick is a recently-green startup that designs products derived from the global green campaign such as cotton tote bags and other alternatives to plastic.
"It just took me a while to completely dedicate myself back to the environment. I just recently decided to do squarely environmental products starting with the Seoudi Supermarket bags," says Abdel Rassoul, who is also a single mother of a three-year-old. "Because I feel that now more than ever, the world is at an undeniable point [knowing that] if you're not part of the solution then you're really part of the problem."
Drumstick started with lines of products that would add colour to household aesthetics, but it wasn't until this year when Abdel Rassoul's early years of environmental activism crossed paths with her recent years of entrepreneurship. In June, she began with selling cotton tote bags in the supermarket Seoudi, saying: No, thank you. I don't want a plastic bag. "We initially approached Seoudi supermarket to sell the bag in their shops, our intention from the meeting is to ask them not to put a high profit margin on it so that it would be an easy purchase for clients, and they were the ones that proposed to pay full expenses for the bag and make it a co-branded product," she says.
A few weeks after the Seoudi campaign, Drumstick launched another one in partnership with KarmSolar this time coinciding with beach cleanups organised by Orcas and Greenish at the Egyptian north coast. "We approached KarmSolar for the sponsorship of the Freska bags. KarmSolar is a big established company for solar energy that have been very active in the field since 2011 with really big clients, so we thought it can be a good partnership, both them and us working on something for the environment, it flowed well for a "feel good" product like the Freska bags," she explains. The freska bags also have info-graphs and simple explanation of why the global plastic ban movement is important and not just a hipster trend.
"The plastic-free freska campaign is mostly based on social involvement. Of course the core idea is to cut down the ridiculous use of the absolutely useless plastic bags, I mean, you gulp down your freska in three seconds, so technically you don't even need a bag," Abdel Rassoul says, explaining that the idea is for the consumer to pick up the freska bags from one of the distribution points across Cairo and give it to the freska seller they meet at the beach. "The idea behind this is to involve you personally in the equation, to make you part of the change and to make people realize how much power they have, to truly connect to someone and feel the fulfillment of making an impact," she says.
So far, with the sponsorship of KarmSolar, Drumstick has produced 15,000 bags which are almost out as they've been distributed all over from Agami all the way to Ghazala Bay. Abdel Rassoul reveals that another batch of 15,000 freska bags will be available next week.
Drumstick started by accident. It was 2008 when Abdel Rassoul decided to quit her full-time job as the editor-in-chief of G-mag, a Cairo-based lifestyle magazine, and pursue her passion in design and crafts. Among the things she made at her studio in Old Cairo's Fustat district was some tile stickers and socket covers to add some Arabic funk to her space, way before Arabic pop design became trendy. "The idea seemed repeatable and expandable, so I thought why not sell it?" That was the pivotal moment for Abdel Rassoul's turquoise studio to turn into a registered company and march side by side with its fellow green startups fighting plastic-use in the region.