Origin story series
Origin story series

Origin Story Series W/ Eloy Padilla, The Fair Cottage

Origin Story Series W/ Eloy Padilla, The Fair Cottage
Brighter Future
Author:
Brighter Future
|
July 27, 2022

H

ere at Brighter Future, we love having conversations with inspiring entrepreneurs about their start-up experience and how they’re making a difference. Today, we’re thrilled to be joined by Eloy Padilla, founder and CEO of The Fair Cottage, a Berlin-based enterprise founded in 2016 that acts as a one-stop gear shop for the green outdoor sports community. Through partnerships with only the most transparent brands, The Fair Cottage helps environmentally conscious consumers enjoy outdoor sports while reducing their impact on the planet.

H

ere at Brighter Future, we love having conversations with inspiring entrepreneurs about their start-up experience and how they’re making a difference. Today, we’re thrilled to be joined by Eloy Padilla, founder and CEO of The Fair Cottage, a Berlin-based enterprise founded in 2016 that acts as a one-stop gear shop for the green outdoor sports community. Through partnerships with only the most transparent brands, The Fair Cottage helps environmentally conscious consumers enjoy outdoor sports while reducing their impact on the planet.

Hi, Eloy! Thank you so much for agreeing to share your story and experiences with us today. To get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are. Where do you come from?

Hello! I am a passionate surfer from south Spain who splits his time between the ocean, the mountains and Berlin, which is where I acquired my experience in the IT field and developed my entrepreneurial path. I grew up between the mountains and the Atlantic ocean, amidst a beautiful landscape of vineyards, historic buildings and pretty fishing towns, and among happy, humble people. My values are rooted in nature and a slow lifestyle, far removed from noisy and dusty cities.

In my 20s, I embarked on a new path, moving abroad to develop my professional career in Berlin, which was crucial in defining and combining my spirit, passions and professional knowledge. I initially founded a sustainable gifts shop and progressed from there. Our motto at the time was “slow-made products”. Today, however, I am the founder of The Fair Cottage, a curated marketplace offering sustainable outdoor sporting goods in Europe.  

That sounds idyllic! Tell us a little more about how your business, The Fair Cottage, came to be. How did the idea for it come about?

I started to pay special attention to sustainability when I moved to Berlin. It was during this time that I discovered and learned a lot about how to apply sustainability principles to every kind of activity, construction, product or way of life. But it was during one of my surf trips to Mexico that inspiration struck. Standing in the sand in this beautiful place, I spotted debris from a broken surfboard. As I looked around, I noticed lots of debris all over the beach. It lit a spark in me. There’s already enough damage being done to the planet, so why do we—surfers and lovers of the great outdoors—contribute to it even further by supporting this unconscious consumption model? That’s how the idea for The Fair Cottage came about.

Amazing! You mentioned surfers and lovers of nature and the great outdoors. Is that who The Fair Cottage was mostly aimed at from the start? How did that direction take shape?

Yes! As an outdoor enthusiast and a consumer of sporting goods myself, I started to wonder more about the productsI was buying. As my knowledge of key environmental issues expanded, I began to look for more sustainable and less harmful products in this space. I quickly realised there was a lack of information about appropriate brands and even a lack of interest in changing the industry’s approach to sustainable products. I believe that change must come from people first—from our consciousness—so I decided to gather information about the alternatives available on the market. I made it my mission to demonstrate that good solutions exist and that alternatives could be pushed above conventional, harmful products. This directly led to me starting The Fair Cottage—a company ruled by people, to educate people, with a commitment to protecting the environment.

That’s a really inspiring mission. It’s got to feel good to know you’re not only doing what you love but also helping the planet in the process. What part of your work is most fulfilling to you?

When that little light switches on in someone’s head and they say, “Wow! This is amazing! I didn’t know there were so many alternatives out there!” I love opening my fellow outdoor sports enthusiasts’ eyes to the potential good they can do through their passion for nature and outdoor sports.

The majority of people with good ideas are happy to stay in their safe nine-to-five jobs, never taking any kind of risk to see their idea through to completion. When did you know you would take a different path in life?  

Great question! For me, living in a big city for the first time was difficult. I found the unnatural rhythm of living, integrating with another culture, and working in old-fashioned companies in stressful and competitive environments very challenging. At one point, I felt completely lost in this concrete jungle. I felt far away from my true being, my passions and my desires. That was the first moment that I stopped everything, looked around, and reconsidered my path.

Sometimes, we have to try something for ourselves to realise it’s not for us. What do you think gave you the confidence to believe you could take The Fair Cottage from an idea to a fully realised, operational business?

From the time I was a child, I was a very active person. I was competitive and always wanted to be one step ahead. In fact, that’s probably the reason why I was focused on becoming a professional athlete. I had a great career in front of me, but I quit that and decided to explore what actually life is. I wanted to look beyond the edge. I started to channel that fire burning inside of myself into solutions and the optimisation of everything I made. Perhaps this was because I was used to being a step ahead, and for that, you need to always be faster, have a better engine, optimise your tools, etc. I think this natural spirit, in combination with my zero-tolerance stance on unfairness, kept me moving forward, always searching for a better way to do things, which eventually culminated in The Fair Cottage.

No great endeavour is ever entirely smooth sailing. When you started out on your entrepreneurial journey, what were the biggest challenges you faced or mistakes you made? And what did they teach you?

I could write a complete book about this, but everyone will make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons specific to their business. Mistakes are the foundation of evolution. You can’t stand up and you can’t grow if you never fall down.

Honestly, my biggest challenge was just starting out on my own path as an entrepreneur, and my biggest mistake was starting without the necessary tools and knowledge. This is something you only realise looking back, but when you are getting ready to make such a leap, getting advice, mentoring or learning from others’ experiences are essential. I should have looked for and asked for more help when I was starting out.

That’s very true, Eloy. As entrepreneurs, we often think we can do it all ourselves. It’s essential to surround yourself with people who can guide you along the way. When reflecting on the process of getting a business off the ground, many entrepreneurs report experiencing an “a-ha!”moment. A moment when something just makes sense or clicks into place. Have you ever had that experience?

Yes! Without a doubt, I have experienced a lot of “a-ha!” moments. I experienced them consecutively during my formative period as an entrepreneur, particularly when I was involved with a business accelerator programme. During this time, I got constant insights, feedback and advice from experienced people. There is always some valuable information to be gathered from even the most “pointless” conversations, which happen very often in my opinion. After four years of having this idea spinning in my head, I was finally able to sort it out and create a structure and network that supported the development of the idea. When I look back, that definitely felt like an “a-ha!” time in my life.

Speaking of gathering information and insights from a variety of people, are there any books, movies, speeches or people who particularly inspired you along the way?

Yes! I have been very inspired by Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan and The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Of course, in terms of business and productivity, there are so many great books, like The Founder’s Dilemmas by Wassermann, or articles about embracing slow productivity that inspired me, all while drip-feeding me valuable insights about working culture. At the moment, I’m looking forward to reading Healthy Business: Culture d’entreprise, Bien-être & Excellence by Jean-Charles Samuelian-Werve, the founder of Alan. I think it is still only available in French, so I can’t read it yet. I am also quite inspired by Christian Kroll, the founder of Ecosia—a search engine that uses its profits to plant trees.  

Thanks for sharing! We’ll be sure to add some of those to our reading list! Nothing great is ever achieved without trade-offs, compromises and sacrifices. Did you have to make any sacrifices to get to where you are today?  

I guess, like every entrepreneur, the biggest sacrifice was making that leap to full commitment to your idea. You work through all of those fears, quit your stable job, and give up all of that security, only to embark on a shaky path of insecurity, uncertainty and frustrations. That hasn’t even been my biggest sacrifice. The biggest one is missing out on a lot of joy and special moments with friends and family. Not doing proper holidays for years, missing days of surfing and sun… that has been my biggest sacrifice. But although those sacrifices hurt, that pain kept me moving towards my goals and kept me focused on making my dreams a reality.  

If you’re comfortable talking about it, we’d be interested in hearing about your personal beliefs and how those affect your decision-making in both life and business. Do you, for example, believe in a higher power?

My personal belief is that it is all within us. Once you connect deeply to it, it is like a north star. It will always lead you, no matter what. We can talk about purpose, and we can talk about goals or accomplishments, but for me, as a person who is very conscious of and connected to my soul, that is my only focus. It talks to you, it listens to you, even if you do not realise it. It gives you a shoulder to cry on. Honestly, the only thing that matters to me is keeping that higher power alive and burning within myself.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts so openly. It’s always fascinating to get an insight into what guides people towards or away from different decisions. As a people and a planet, we are currently undergoing a period of great change. We’d love to know how you personally envision the future.

I am very positive about the future. I see it like yin and yang: the darker it looks, the brighter it will be. I think there are amazing people out there doing great things, and that higher power we spoke of really does connect us all!

I am sure that decentralisation will be a key factor in all aspects of our lives, from the way we live and work to the financial environment. I envision hundreds of clusters of people and communities around the world doing their thing, generating value that matters to them in a more collaborative way. This should be the driving force for a greater future.

When future generations look back on your life and what you have achieved, both personally and through your businesses, what do you hope they’ll take away from your story?

Well, I think we all act in the interest of our own legacy, so our children will have a hero, a reference or mentor in their lives. I would like to be remembered as someone who did his best for other people and the planet. No matter what I achieve in the years to come, I hope to be remembered as someone who fought for better, solved problems, and contributed to the building of a better future.

We agree! Building a better future for the generations to come is a huge motivator for so many innovators in this space. On that same note, we’d like to give you a chance to speak directly to up-and-coming entrepreneurs, young or old, who are just starting out and are possibly shaping the future through their businesses. What advice do you have for them?

Be patient and do your homework!

Straight to the point—great advice! If there was one lasting message you could share with the world, what would it be?

Look inside yourself and you will find the meaning of everything around you.

---------------------

We’d like to say a big thank you to our wonderful guest Eloy Padilla from The Fair Cottage for participating in this interview and sharing his knowledge! If you would like to find out more about Eloy and the great work he is doing at The Fair Cottage (or pick up some outdoor sports gear for yourself!), you can find him at: www.thefaircottage.com.

To stay up to date with all of our latest content and interviews with amazing people like Eloy, subscribe to theBrighter Future newsletter here.

Hi, Eloy! Thank you so much for agreeing to share your story and experiences with us today. To get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are. Where do you come from?

Hello! I am a passionate surfer from south Spain who splits his time between the ocean, the mountains and Berlin, which is where I acquired my experience in the IT field and developed my entrepreneurial path. I grew up between the mountains and the Atlantic ocean, amidst a beautiful landscape of vineyards, historic buildings and pretty fishing towns, and among happy, humble people. My values are rooted in nature and a slow lifestyle, far removed from noisy and dusty cities.

In my 20s, I embarked on a new path, moving abroad to develop my professional career in Berlin, which was crucial in defining and combining my spirit, passions and professional knowledge. I initially founded a sustainable gifts shop and progressed from there. Our motto at the time was “slow-made products”. Today, however, I am the founder of The Fair Cottage, a curated marketplace offering sustainable outdoor sporting goods in Europe.  

That sounds idyllic! Tell us a little more about how your business, The Fair Cottage, came to be. How did the idea for it come about?

I started to pay special attention to sustainability when I moved to Berlin. It was during this time that I discovered and learned a lot about how to apply sustainability principles to every kind of activity, construction, product or way of life. But it was during one of my surf trips to Mexico that inspiration struck. Standing in the sand in this beautiful place, I spotted debris from a broken surfboard. As I looked around, I noticed lots of debris all over the beach. It lit a spark in me. There’s already enough damage being done to the planet, so why do we—surfers and lovers of the great outdoors—contribute to it even further by supporting this unconscious consumption model? That’s how the idea for The Fair Cottage came about.

Amazing! You mentioned surfers and lovers of nature and the great outdoors. Is that who The Fair Cottage was mostly aimed at from the start? How did that direction take shape?

Yes! As an outdoor enthusiast and a consumer of sporting goods myself, I started to wonder more about the productsI was buying. As my knowledge of key environmental issues expanded, I began to look for more sustainable and less harmful products in this space. I quickly realised there was a lack of information about appropriate brands and even a lack of interest in changing the industry’s approach to sustainable products. I believe that change must come from people first—from our consciousness—so I decided to gather information about the alternatives available on the market. I made it my mission to demonstrate that good solutions exist and that alternatives could be pushed above conventional, harmful products. This directly led to me starting The Fair Cottage—a company ruled by people, to educate people, with a commitment to protecting the environment.

That’s a really inspiring mission. It’s got to feel good to know you’re not only doing what you love but also helping the planet in the process. What part of your work is most fulfilling to you?

When that little light switches on in someone’s head and they say, “Wow! This is amazing! I didn’t know there were so many alternatives out there!” I love opening my fellow outdoor sports enthusiasts’ eyes to the potential good they can do through their passion for nature and outdoor sports.

The majority of people with good ideas are happy to stay in their safe nine-to-five jobs, never taking any kind of risk to see their idea through to completion. When did you know you would take a different path in life?  

Great question! For me, living in a big city for the first time was difficult. I found the unnatural rhythm of living, integrating with another culture, and working in old-fashioned companies in stressful and competitive environments very challenging. At one point, I felt completely lost in this concrete jungle. I felt far away from my true being, my passions and my desires. That was the first moment that I stopped everything, looked around, and reconsidered my path.

Sometimes, we have to try something for ourselves to realise it’s not for us. What do you think gave you the confidence to believe you could take The Fair Cottage from an idea to a fully realised, operational business?

From the time I was a child, I was a very active person. I was competitive and always wanted to be one step ahead. In fact, that’s probably the reason why I was focused on becoming a professional athlete. I had a great career in front of me, but I quit that and decided to explore what actually life is. I wanted to look beyond the edge. I started to channel that fire burning inside of myself into solutions and the optimisation of everything I made. Perhaps this was because I was used to being a step ahead, and for that, you need to always be faster, have a better engine, optimise your tools, etc. I think this natural spirit, in combination with my zero-tolerance stance on unfairness, kept me moving forward, always searching for a better way to do things, which eventually culminated in The Fair Cottage.

No great endeavour is ever entirely smooth sailing. When you started out on your entrepreneurial journey, what were the biggest challenges you faced or mistakes you made? And what did they teach you?

I could write a complete book about this, but everyone will make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons specific to their business. Mistakes are the foundation of evolution. You can’t stand up and you can’t grow if you never fall down.

Honestly, my biggest challenge was just starting out on my own path as an entrepreneur, and my biggest mistake was starting without the necessary tools and knowledge. This is something you only realise looking back, but when you are getting ready to make such a leap, getting advice, mentoring or learning from others’ experiences are essential. I should have looked for and asked for more help when I was starting out.

That’s very true, Eloy. As entrepreneurs, we often think we can do it all ourselves. It’s essential to surround yourself with people who can guide you along the way. When reflecting on the process of getting a business off the ground, many entrepreneurs report experiencing an “a-ha!”moment. A moment when something just makes sense or clicks into place. Have you ever had that experience?

Yes! Without a doubt, I have experienced a lot of “a-ha!” moments. I experienced them consecutively during my formative period as an entrepreneur, particularly when I was involved with a business accelerator programme. During this time, I got constant insights, feedback and advice from experienced people. There is always some valuable information to be gathered from even the most “pointless” conversations, which happen very often in my opinion. After four years of having this idea spinning in my head, I was finally able to sort it out and create a structure and network that supported the development of the idea. When I look back, that definitely felt like an “a-ha!” time in my life.

Speaking of gathering information and insights from a variety of people, are there any books, movies, speeches or people who particularly inspired you along the way?

Yes! I have been very inspired by Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan and The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Of course, in terms of business and productivity, there are so many great books, like The Founder’s Dilemmas by Wassermann, or articles about embracing slow productivity that inspired me, all while drip-feeding me valuable insights about working culture. At the moment, I’m looking forward to reading Healthy Business: Culture d’entreprise, Bien-être & Excellence by Jean-Charles Samuelian-Werve, the founder of Alan. I think it is still only available in French, so I can’t read it yet. I am also quite inspired by Christian Kroll, the founder of Ecosia—a search engine that uses its profits to plant trees.  

Thanks for sharing! We’ll be sure to add some of those to our reading list! Nothing great is ever achieved without trade-offs, compromises and sacrifices. Did you have to make any sacrifices to get to where you are today?  

I guess, like every entrepreneur, the biggest sacrifice was making that leap to full commitment to your idea. You work through all of those fears, quit your stable job, and give up all of that security, only to embark on a shaky path of insecurity, uncertainty and frustrations. That hasn’t even been my biggest sacrifice. The biggest one is missing out on a lot of joy and special moments with friends and family. Not doing proper holidays for years, missing days of surfing and sun… that has been my biggest sacrifice. But although those sacrifices hurt, that pain kept me moving towards my goals and kept me focused on making my dreams a reality.  

If you’re comfortable talking about it, we’d be interested in hearing about your personal beliefs and how those affect your decision-making in both life and business. Do you, for example, believe in a higher power?

My personal belief is that it is all within us. Once you connect deeply to it, it is like a north star. It will always lead you, no matter what. We can talk about purpose, and we can talk about goals or accomplishments, but for me, as a person who is very conscious of and connected to my soul, that is my only focus. It talks to you, it listens to you, even if you do not realise it. It gives you a shoulder to cry on. Honestly, the only thing that matters to me is keeping that higher power alive and burning within myself.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts so openly. It’s always fascinating to get an insight into what guides people towards or away from different decisions. As a people and a planet, we are currently undergoing a period of great change. We’d love to know how you personally envision the future.

I am very positive about the future. I see it like yin and yang: the darker it looks, the brighter it will be. I think there are amazing people out there doing great things, and that higher power we spoke of really does connect us all!

I am sure that decentralisation will be a key factor in all aspects of our lives, from the way we live and work to the financial environment. I envision hundreds of clusters of people and communities around the world doing their thing, generating value that matters to them in a more collaborative way. This should be the driving force for a greater future.

When future generations look back on your life and what you have achieved, both personally and through your businesses, what do you hope they’ll take away from your story?

Well, I think we all act in the interest of our own legacy, so our children will have a hero, a reference or mentor in their lives. I would like to be remembered as someone who did his best for other people and the planet. No matter what I achieve in the years to come, I hope to be remembered as someone who fought for better, solved problems, and contributed to the building of a better future.

We agree! Building a better future for the generations to come is a huge motivator for so many innovators in this space. On that same note, we’d like to give you a chance to speak directly to up-and-coming entrepreneurs, young or old, who are just starting out and are possibly shaping the future through their businesses. What advice do you have for them?

Be patient and do your homework!

Straight to the point—great advice! If there was one lasting message you could share with the world, what would it be?

Look inside yourself and you will find the meaning of everything around you.

---------------------

We’d like to say a big thank you to our wonderful guest Eloy Padilla from The Fair Cottage for participating in this interview and sharing his knowledge! If you would like to find out more about Eloy and the great work he is doing at The Fair Cottage (or pick up some outdoor sports gear for yourself!), you can find him at: www.thefaircottage.com.

To stay up to date with all of our latest content and interviews with amazing people like Eloy, subscribe to theBrighter Future newsletter here.