"I'm driven to make a difference - full stop."

We interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries. This week we spoke to Tammy Ven Dange, CEO of The Refoundry.

What are you working on?

My business, The Refoundry, is making great products that reduce plastic waste. We currently have 4 brand lines out there:

  • Stray No More pet containment products – waiting for 3D printing with recycled plastic to become more affordable at scale before we move from prototype to manufacturing.
  • Notions non-plastic hotel amenity line – waiting for the travel/tourism industry to return.
  • 8 Bottles recycled polyester salon capes – currently being tested in the marketplace while waiting for the hair salon industry to return to normal.
  • Harvestcare – an active pivot that’s taken our hotel line and refocusing it to a B2C model. This line is taking all of my energy at the moment.
Why is innovation important to you?

I’m frustrated with the traditional manufacturing industries. They’re way to slow, require high quantities, are restricted by raw materials, and largely have too many dependencies with overseas companies due to price differences.

I really want to create a more nimble manufacturing capability locally that can still produce things affordably, and yet just in time. I can’t do this without both advances in technology, as well as skilled workers that understand the possibilities.

What drives you to make a difference?

I’m driven to make a difference – full stop. Right now, I’m focussed on reducing plastic waste by making products. This may be brand new things like my pet containment products or creating a more eco-friendly substitute with extra benefits such as with Notions and 8 Bottles.

Do you have any advice for getting more women into the innovation ecosystem?

Start! I think fear stops women even more than men, and as such they’ll sit on an idea forever. Sometimes, just taking one or two steps forward will answer their question of “do or don’t do.”

For instance, if I have an idea that I can’t get out my head, I buy a domain name. That one act has actually killed more “bad” ideas than anything as the $16 investment makes me really think about the next steps and how that business might work day to day.

As an example – Do I really want to spend my days making X and selling them ? If I have bad reaction to those next actions, I kill the idea and turn off the auto-renew for the domain name. More times than not, it’s the best money I’ve ever spent as I can refocus my attention to something else.

What are you proud of right now?

I’m proud that I didn’t sit on my hands when the hotel industry stopped the progress of Notions. Instead, I worked day and night over the last 2 weeks to pivot the business. It’s not bringing in much money yet, but at least it’s forward progress that could actually open up even more doors once the economy returns to normal.

I’m also proud of my podcast, Plastics Revolution that is helping to showcase other businesses and organisations that are also reducing plastic waste.

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