How Flotsam Flo Grew through Creativity, Community, and Sustainability (episode 484)

Kate Doran is the founder of Flotsam Flo. An upcycled accessories brand founded in 2021 that creates products from waste that cannot easily be recycled or is impossible to recycle. Selling via the Shopify site, taking bespoke and corporate orders, and recently diversifying into workshops. They’ve even got 14 bins located around Cornwall to collect their raw materials. 

Kate Doran Flotsam Flo on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

Listen now for free:

Subscribe on your Favourite Podcast App

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Google Podcasts

Dive in:

[04:00] Graphic design degree taught to see differently.
[06:19] Seizing opportunities after brain hemorrhage realization.
[09:29] Upcycling items into new products with purpose.
[15:18] Reusing waste for sustainable gifts and workshops.
[16:11] Teaching sewing, reducing plastic waste, empowering others.
[19:42] Kate’s Top Tips!

Kate’s eCommerce Journey and Inspiration 

Kate, originally a qualified secondary school teacher with a passion for making things, entered eCommerce after a life-altering subarachnoid brain hemorrhage made her realize the importance of doing what she loves. This experience, combined with her love for sewing and creating, motivated her to start her creative venture in eCommerce. 

Founding of Flotsam Flo 

Kate turned her passion for sewing and a near-death experience into the foundation of her business, Flotsam Flo. Kate reached out to her community for plastic waste, starting with a broken snakes and ladders board, to create unique upcycled products. Her graphic design and art background encouraged her to see the potential in unconventional materials, leading her to collect waste from local beaches and turn it into various accessories. This grew organically, driven by the desire to do something meaningful and maintain creative freedom without the pressure of sales. 

Community Engagement and Sustainability 

Kate believes Flotsam Flo’s uniqueness and circular nature of products attract customers. She ensures that each product is labeled to indicate its original material, like a wetsuit or inflatable, enhancing its special value and the brand’s commitment to quality and sustainability. 

Kate sources her raw materials through community engagement. Her involvement in the Cultivator Cornwall program led her to a mentorship and a collaboration with Biffa, a waste management company, which provided her with studio space. This partnership underscored a shared goal between Kate and Biffa: reducing plastic waste. Biffa supports Flotsam Flo not only by offering space but also by collecting donated items for Kate’s projects, exemplifying a successful collaboration between a small business and a large company for a common environmental cause. 

Expansion Beyond eCommerce 

Flotsam Flo has expanded its reach beyond selling products online. Kate has ventured into offering workshops and engaging with corporate clients for bespoke and corporate orders. These expansions not only diversify the brand’s income streams but also amplify its educational mission. Through workshops, Kate shares her skills and passion for sustainability, teaching others how to repurpose waste materials into valuable items. 

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Be genuine and authentic. 

Tool Top Tip

  • Meta Business Suite scheduling tool 

Carbon Top Tip

  • At Flotsam Flo, they reuse all the packaging for their orders. Additionally, Kate uses biodegradable stickers to label the packaging as reused and to thank her customers. 

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • Embedding ethics and sustainability into luxury brand Elvis & Kresse – super inspiring story (episode 392)
  • Building a sustainable loungewear brand with PR and Community – it’s Krisha Kotak from Tula+Tye (episode 385)
  • How to grow a Shopify Yoga brand including Wholesale with Valka Yoga’s Danny Garg (episode 467)

Without the sponsors the podcast wouldn’t be possible – please do check them out:


SHOPLINE is the preferred commerce platform built to simplify complexities for fast-growing enterprises.

Whether it is setting up more sales channels like social commerce or expanding to new markets globally, SHOPLINE takes care of everything from store setups, checkouts, payments, logistics and more!

🛠️ All-in-One Platform: From store setups and checkouts to payments and logistics, SHOPLINE handles it all!

🌐 Asia’s Best now in UK: With our headquarters in Singapore and offices in 13 countries across Asia, the UK, Australia, and America, we have served more than 600,000+ merchants across the world including Lego, Muji and more

📢 You don’t want to miss a chance to migrate and join the league of InTheStyle, BodyCare, and 100+ others who have chosen us! We are just a call away…

Join Chloe’s eCommerce Club!

Our little online club for online retailers is growing… and we’d love you to be a part of it.

We’re still in beta, still MVP, so it’s a great time to get involved so we can optimise the club based on YOUR feedback.

So – apply now to be in the next group we invite to join us!

It’s totally free to join, and Chloe will be hanging out there ready to help with your challenges every day. Join now!

Full transcript to read & download: –

Click to access

Like to be a guest? Apply Here