"It takes one passionate person to inspire a village. My choice today can very much inspire my village."
- Anastasia Mikhalochkina, Founder of Lean Orb
We sat down with Anastasia Mikhalochkina, Founder of Lean Orb, the company that designs plant-based and biodegradable catering supplies to learn more about her inspiration and advice for like-minded entrepreneurs.
Q. What prompted you to start Lean Orb?
As an environmentalist at heart and a designer by trade, I was always passionate about sustainability, energy optimization, and social equality. Being extremely close with my grandmother gave me an opportunity to learn about resource-based economy at an early age. My happiest childhood moments as I remember them were spent listening to her stories, in the country house where the nearby lake has been a source of our drinking water through the present. She taught me to understand that everything is interconnected. We are the water we drink, and the waste we create today is a health condition we deal with tomorrow.
Years of learning about the world through her lens made me the minimalist I am today. That combined with knowing the data behind the hospitality industry and its wastefulness made me want to be a part of the progressive solution. Lean Orb was created to offer highly-functional eco-friendly catering supplies and food service packaging as an alternative to plastic and styrofoam disposables on the market. We have have set out to create a full retail line of biodegradable restaurant supplies built on a zero-waste model. We achieve that by working with an agricultural waste such as plant roots, grass fibers and highly sustainable wood. Current raw materials we use for our compostable dinnerware include sugarcane, wheat straw, palm leaf, birch wood and hemp. Additionally, taking products through their full biological cycle is our main goal, thus we are currently looking to partner with local farms for composting opportunities, and consulting our clients on proper disposal of biodegradable packaging.
In a nutshell, we are shaped by our dreams and aspirations. I think mine are shaped in a circular manner. I will relentlessly contribute to any innovative practices that promote waste optimization.
Q. What has been your greatest success so far in your entrepreneurial journey and why?
Being able to stick to my ethics and keep operations lean while I’m doing initial market testing. Additionally, I was fortunate enough to make really genuine connections with people that work with me. I have no tolerance for bullies in personal life or business.
Q. What is one of the most important things you have learned while building your venture?
Everything is a choice, and it doesn’t take a village. It takes one passionate person to inspire a village. My choice today can very much inspire my village.
Q. What prompted you to start the social impact initiative of partnering with Endeavour manufacturing of CRESDO?
We are more socially conscious than ever before in modern history. It’s important to build companies that will align with higher values across multiple sectors. Most of the world’s population doesn't have access to traditional infrastructure, which is why knowing who manufactures our product is as important to me as how. All the bio-based tableware until now were created with a help of CRESDO, an educational non-profit that gives access to reading, writing and training in micro-enterprise for female workers.
I was always fortunate to have “Wonder Women” by my side that held my hand,
so the least I can do is return that favor.
Q. What is the biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur?
That as an entrepreneur, you must have a wild imagination and a strong will power to test your craziest assumptions. People believe we know the answers to all of our company’s struggles. The truth is, we don’t, but our pursuit of the dream compels us to challenge the outdated social practices.
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