Meet Robyn Smith – the founder and director of South Africa’s favourite online organic and natural store, Faithful to Nature. She started the business in 2007 after returning from a stint in London where she worked as an innovation consultant, supporting top businesses across the world with insights and learnings on creating a sustainable innovation culture within their corporations.
The interview below was conducted several years ago – you can read our latest inverview with her here!
“There I was in London, working at a company that had won “Best Place To Work” in both the UK and the EU for a few consecutive years, alongside the brightest minds I had ever encountered, travelling the world (business-class too), doing work I loved and still something was missing. I knew it would not get better than this, and that the next step would have to involve an entrepreneurial endeavor. I wanted to work hard and be successful while making a positive contribution to the world around me. I needed to know that my work truly counted for something, and this is when I returned to South Africa intent on finding a gap to start an ethical business.”
Born in Johannesburg, Robyn was raised in the Eastern Cape and studied at UCT where she completed a Bachelor of Business Science Honours. To pay off her student loan, she ventured off to South Korea to teach English for 14 months. After her stint in South Korea she moved to London.
Robyn is mother to four-year old Cassian, previously divorced and currently engaged. She lives in Kommetjie and when she is not working she is either attempting to catch some waves, getting dirty in her veggie patch or playing on the beach with her much-loved Australian shepherd and son. Robyn is passionate about transparent and ethical labeling and is fiercely devoted to ensuring that people feel empowered by their buying decisions. Driven by impact and purpose, she has endless energy to devote when she knows positive ripples will be made.
- What are you most passionate about?
Being inspired and inspiring others to be more. That has translated into an absolute passion to empower people with credible, informed and transparent information that will allow them to make better buying decisions for themselves and the environment.
- What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
It was either starting Faithful to Nature, or it was accepting my parents offer 3 years ago to mortgage their house so that they could give me a loan to keep the business going when so many were telling me to “run for the hills.”
- What makes you angry?
Dishonesty on any level makes me angry, and sad.
- If you inherited an acre of land what would you do with it?
I would work to restore it to its firmly glory. I am so in love with and grateful for the amazing diversity we have here in the Western Cape by way of our fynbos and I would love to play a greater part in preserving it. Of course a small area of the land would be set aside to grow our own food.
- Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
Definitely a gatherer. And If I consider my focus on finding treasures on my many hikes by way of crystals and fossils, perhaps I am a bit of a natural pirate too 🙂
- How many pairs of shoes do you own?
I own about 6 pairs but generally have one pair for each season. The rest are for special activities – wellies, hiking boots, flip flops and cross trainers.
- If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
An almond and roasted vegetable quinoa salad
- How would people communicate in a perfect world?
From their hearts
- What do you work toward in your free time?
Finding balance for myself and being present with my family
- If you woke up and had 300 unread emails and could only answer 30 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?
I would prioritise the emails where I could have the most impact
- Name 3 thing in nature you find most beautiful.
1 – The presence of all her creatures in it
2 – Everything that grows out of our Mother Earth – her trees, plants and grasses
3 – All of her sounds – the crashing sea, whistling wind and flowing water
- Have you used plastic bags for your shopping in the last two weeks?
No definitely not. If I forget to take my reusable bags to the shops I usually put my goods back in the trolley and wheel them to my boot. Fortunately I am pretty sorted with my weekly fresh veg and fruit delivery and Faithful to Nature’s warehouse.
- What would you say are some small steps that people can take to improve their relationship to the environment?
- Connect – whether its some herbs you grow on your windowsill or some adventuring and time outdoors; appreciation and understanding are fostered by connecting
- Serve – beach clean ups are a lot more fun than they sound
- Love yourself – it is not possible to become more self loving (and so raise your vibration) without it affecting the way you respond to the world around you