Newhaven Champion Q&A: Helen Rankin, founder of Cheeky Wipes
Posted on 20/01/2023
Launched in 2008, Cheeky Wipes has its head office in Newhaven and last year was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of Sustainable Development.
We caught up with Helen Rankin, who founded the sustainable brand that sells reusable period pads, nappies and baby wipes, giving people a more environmentally friendly alternative.
Tell us what you love about Newhaven?
There are none of the airs and graces of other towns slightly further afield. What you see is what you get, and I love that honesty and authenticity!
The walk along the beach from the ice cream van in Seaford, all the way to Newhaven via Tide Mills is my favourite walk and makes me appreciate every single day how lucky we are to live here.
What do you think makes Newhaven a great place to base a business?
What makes Newhaven a fantastic place to be based is the people, but also the accessibility.
There’s good public transport, no matter where you are coming from. Brighton, Seaford and Eastbourne are all easy to get to by bus.
The trains are great too. Our Customer Journey Manager is based in St Albans but comes down on the train twice a month which is much easier than coming by car.
What businesses in the area have caught your eye?
You’ve got CTEC Energy that’s based in Newhaven, whose waste recycling technology mission is to reduce C02 emissions by as much as 10 million tonnes and save the NHS over £1.5 Billion by 2040.
There is also Boutique Modern, the modular homes builder which places purpose and sustainability at the heart of everything it delivers.
The business is striving to address the housing crisis across the South of England. I am very much looking forward to ‘watching this space’ and seeing how it all develops!
Back to your business now- can you give us a bit more backstory into Cheeky Wipes?
Cheeky Wipes has been in the business of ‘simple reusables’ since 2008, but to be honest when we launched our reusable wipes kit way back then, people couldn’t see past the perceived ‘convenience’ of single use products - but that was obviously before Sir David Attenborough and ‘Blue Planet’.
Cheeky Wipes has been based in Newhaven ever since we outgrew my father in law’s garage.
We were lucky enough to receive significantly reduced business rates from the Newhaven Enterprise Zone for five years which is a substantial sum of money that allowed us to invest in kitting out our own large warehouse on the Eastside Business Park.
How did you navigate COVID-19?
Because of the nature of the business that we do which is reusable wipes, period pants, cloth sanitary pads (and I’m sure you remember the great toilet roll crisis in early lockdown!), we stayed open during lockdown.
However, we had to move to shift working to allow our staff to stay socially distanced. Luckily, the team who were working on kitting out our warehouse also kept working and we moved into our lovely new warehouse on 6th May 2020. It was brilliant! The staff all had their own workspaces and could easily socially distance themselves.
Last year when we won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development. It was fantastic to have the recognition for our staff for all the hard work they put in and their passion for reusables which comes through in everything we do!
To wrap up - what would you like Newhaven’s future to look like in 10 years’ time?
I think if Newhaven can decide what it wants to be, carve out its own niche, there is a real opportunity to flourish and bring money into the area.
The redevelopment of the Marina, which was approved recently, could be what really kick starts that regeneration.
The challenge is to build a community and to do so, the community needs a heart, a space, somewhere to congregate around - the equivalent of a Village Green.
If approval is granted for Rampion 2 further along the coast, that could see clean electricity generated for more than 1 million homes in Sussex.
To my mind, Newhaven has a real opportunity to position itself as a centre for sustainability, attracting green and eco businesses.
To find out more about Cheeky Wipes, visit: www.cheekywipes.com