Smart Cookie: Lily Sia, Founder of Itto - Ecobuy
Smart Cookies Social entrepreneur
1) Could you tell us a little about yourself and what’s your business about?

I am Lily. I have recently resigned from my full-time job and found an opportunity to start my own business. I started itto as I wanted to put myself in a position to educate and to effect changes that are better for us and our environment. itto Shells are phone cases that are home-compostable and certified to be commercially compostable in Australia. I encourage the Shells to be sent back at its end-of-life so they can be properly composted. This was important to me, as I was one of the many consumers who were buying eco-friendly products, but did not understand them nor know how to dispose of them when the time came.

2)Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead? 

I do not really have a morning routine, as I do not like keeping to the same routine every day. Though, every other weekday mornings I like to carry out some MadFit dance exercises on YouTube (getting my dance moves on bright and early 😀 ) or play a little bit of Ringfit on my Switch before starting my day. I also like to review items that I have not completed from the days before, and write down a list of tasks to check off on that day and the days ahead before moving ahead with anything else.

3)Why did you choose to go sustainable and eco-friendly?

Growing up, my mum has always stressed the importance of looking after our environment as we are a part of it. Further, I have personally experienced the changes we have brought to the environment – as an example, I remember seeing beautiful, vibrant coral in the tropical reefs, only to go back to a duller and murkier scene just two years later. The more I thought about it the more I cared, and that’s why I try to do what I can to care for our environment, acknowledging that every little act helps.

4)What was the hardest part of starting your own business?

itto started, as and is still a one-woman operation. I have never run a business before, and had to carry out the sourcing, website design, marketing, photography, content strategy and the like. I have faced many difficulties along my journey. I think some of the hardest parts were to acknowledge that everything is new to me and that it is a tough balancing act to learn them all while implementing them before they were “perfect” (or else I’d never start), accepting that sometimes improvements can only come later; further, understanding that self-doubt happens to everybody, and that it is okay.

5)One book and/or documentary everyone should read/watch? Why?

I highly recommend The Five People You Meet In Heaven. It follows Eddie who dies and meets 5 people in heaven. These people taught him very meaningful lessons regarding sacrifice, love, forgiveness and the connectedness between our lives, even those of strangers.

A documentary that I recommend would be A Life on Our Planet. I know that many people would have watched it by now. Despite how bleak David Attenborough has painted the Earth’s current situation, I really like how he showed that other life on the planet will still pull through despite humans, and that there is still hope for us to act.

6)Best piece of advice you have ever received?

I remember watching a video of a speech by Denzel Washington. The key message from the speech was “fall forward”. We will all fail at some point, as hard as we struggled, as much as we did our best, failure is just the part and parcel of life, and it is okay as long as we fall forward, learn from the fall, and step back up again being stronger than before. This advice helped me through a lot. It reminds me that it is okay to work at something and fall, we either get better at it or find ourselves on a new journey ahead.