2017 was jam-packed with excitement at Green Banana Paper! After years of research and experimentation with the natural fibers and tropical climate in Kosrae, our sustainable manufacturing techniques developed to the point at which we could truly set business in motion.
Website and Kickstarter Launch
In February we launched our website and then our first Kickstarter in March. We are full of gratitude for everyone who contributed to our wallet launch on Kickstarter. We raised well over twice our financial goal, which enabled us to hire new artisans and invest in new equipment to expand our production abilities. Kickstarter was an excellent tool for us as a grassroots company, and we couldn’t have asked for a better welcoming from the world.
First Micronesian Product on Amazon
In June we listed Green Banana Paper products on Amazon and shipped wallets to warehouses around the US. This is great for business and also enables expedited shipping for US customers. We are proud to be the first Micronesian products listed on Amazon. Check out our Amazon page here.
Hawaii Ink and Art Expo
In August we participated in the 6th Annual Hawaii Ink and Art Expo in Honolulu. This venue enabled us to create relationships with folks in the tattoo industry for future collaboration. We also debuted our new products at the time and our Polynesian-inspired tribal designs at this expo.
With our business established, we wanted to launch another product. We knew slim wallets were trendy and useful, so on October 1st we shared our slim wallets with the world. We used Kickstarter as our launch platform once again, and this time 380 backers pledged to ditch their leather wallet and upgrade to a truly sustainable alternative through banana ‘leather’. Thank you to everyone for your continued support! Our Kickstarter campaigns raised a combined $32,743. Amazing! Check out our page How We Launched This Slim Wallet On Kickstarter for insight into our eco-entrepreneur mindset.
Wholesale Site Now Active
In November we created an official wholesale store online. We intended to expand our network of business partners through our wholesale program, custom orders, and corporate gifts. View our corporate gifts and wholesale program.
1st Corporate Order
In celebration of Bank of Guam’s 45th year as “The People’s Bank,” they decided to partner with Holstee, a mission-driven design company, and us at Green Banana Paper to create sustainable and reusable sleeves as gifts for their corporate customers. We printed and sewed 1,500 pure banana notebook sleeves and also used our banana paper to make cards describing the gift as well. We loved collaborating with Holstee to design and execute our first ever corporate order. We are honored by the words of Bank of Guam’s President, Lou A. Leon Guerroro,“We are so proud to partner with an island producer of environmentally respectful products, and to provide input on the design of those products.”
Biggest Paper So Far
We collaborated with Banan, a dairy-free soft serve shop in Hawaii, to make custom banners for their menu and story banner. We’re psyched about their banana soft-serve/tropical island version of a scoop shop and it was great to incorporate banana paper into their project. Banan’s custom paper was also a special moment for our paper making development. The ten foot sheets of mixed banana paper are the largest papers we’ve ever made. The massive papers inspired us to take to the ocean because our usual vat was too small.
Sewing Is Stronger!
Successful fundraising and business enabled us to invest in sewing equipment to make stronger and more flexible wallets.
With a broadened team of artisans from our previous fundraisers, we were ready to expand our line of banana fiber products. During a family visit in November, Matt's mom improved Green Banana Paper’s weaving studio and variety of handwoven products. Janney is a very accomplished weaver and leads workshops in Connecticut and northern Michigan. Green Banana Paper now has four active looms and artists are creating handwoven banana fiber place mats and table runners.
We’ve been honored by a seemingly endless stream of visitors at our factory. We’d particularly like to thank Robert Riley, the US Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia, and Marilyn Wold, a master on handmade paper from tropical fibers. Marilyn shared her passion and knowledge of handmade paper from a lifetime of dedication to the art. Check out our blog post, Sharing Passion for Paper: A Visit From Marilyn Wold.
We built a separate fiber processing area to accommodate for our growing factory.
We also built a lunch hut using local mangrove wood and palm tree frond.
We increased our team by nine people throughout the year and now have 25 full-time employees. We are very proud to be one of the top three private sector employers in Kosrae. Meet our staff here.
We were featured in 12 media articles and published seven short videos of our own. Check out the Green Banana Paper YouTube channel for our videos.
We are also excited to have a short list of resellers of our 'banana leather’ products in Hawaii!
What’s Brewing for 2018?
With all of the support Green Banana Paper received this year, we now have a solid foundation and are ready to take on a wider audience. We are constantly evolving our products and we’re investing in equipment to improve our manufacturing abilities.
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Thank you again to everyone for supporting us this year through our fundraisers, online store, social media, or simply telling your friends about Green Banana Paper! Kulo ma lulap and Happy New Year!
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Naturally beautiful, handmade banana paper wallets. Here's what we've done over the past few months to improve our styles.