Meneka Premkumar, founder & owner of The Common Good store featured in Issue 46 of Dumbo Feather magazine; a whole-hearted small business owner and inspiring human being. Below, she has opened up to TWOSIX Wellness on bidding adieu to the big two and living and thriving ethically.
Can you tell us a little about you and what inspired you to open The Common Good store?
I have a background in international business, working in tertiary education, and always had an interest and commitment to Ethics – in business, consumption, and really, in life.
After becoming a parent five years ago, my husband and I realised the importance of living a more whole, present life for us and for our daughter. This meant I would leave my successful, conventional career and pursue something that has been a way of life for us for a long time: organic and ethical food.
What separates The Common Good Store and the big business supermarkets?
Everything. We are personal, accountable and present in serving and informing you. Shopping with The Common Good means the money you part with is used in our community and our family rather than to fund pokie machines, coal and all the other negative things that happen when shareholders are above you.
What fun and unique items can we find instore?
Lots! We sell many. Many items that are made by small producers who deliver the goods themselves: sourdough bread, sauerkraut, almond milk, terrines, soy candles – the list is endless!
Have you always been conscious of your own health and wellbeing?
Yes, in my very early twenties I decided to visit a naturopath about a minor skin condition on my hand and it was the beginning of a life-long journey in allied health and holistic wellness. Initially, my focus was on food and wellbeing, but this soon developed into the ethics of how that food is procured.
Currently, there is a huge focus on the ingredients in the foods, which is great! What are your top 3 tips for our readers who want to go organic and change the types of health care products they regularly buy?
– Avoid any ingredients with numbers
– Avoid ANY personal care products (sanitary, oral hygiene, hair care, skin care) that is not organic
– Avoid buying any fresh fruit or vegetable that is pre-packed
What do you want people to feel and experience when visiting The Common Good store?
Like they’re walking into a friendly, local market place where everyone knows your name and cares about how you are.
What do you believe is the most important change people should make if they want to be kinder to the earth?
Be informed. It’s the most glaring and confronting thing about what we do; seeing the minimal amount of importance people place on KNOWING. Knowing where food is coming from, who made it, how was the person/animal treated, was it a fair trade, is it nutritious… If we are ready and committed to start a journey about bettering our food intake and becoming ethical about how we live then we have to put in the work to be informed.
Starting your own business can be challenging, exhilarating and scary – sometimes all at once…. What do you think were the most important mistakes you’ve learned from in the beginning?
I don’t use the word mistakes in my business. In life, and in a business, if you are committed to your whole self and being authentic, then all the challenges that arise are for a reason and have been sent for you and no one else.
What I have learnt is that small business is not for the faint-hearted or the meek. You get up, show up and remember why you started.
What does ‘me time’ look like for you?
A Bikram yoga class.
Is social media the key to getting a healthy message out there? The key is authenticity. Whether through social media or advertising or profiling, inauthenticity is very recognisable.
We feel it’s extremely crucial to support local industry. As a growing business, what are some of the simple ways people can get behind businesses like yours?Support local. It’s that simple. Know the businesses that are in your community and support them if they’re any good and know what they are about.
Balance means….Juggling! Then breathing. Balance, like stress, is a modern day phenomena that we all get caught up in it. When you live the life that is fulfilling, balance just means living.
What’s next for you & The Common Good Store?So much! We are growing our offerings daily, we are growing our community room to hold workshops and classes and we are continuing to grow partnerships so we can support other like-minded people and businesses. Ultimately, we would like to open another store… Lots to keep us busy bees!
Location: 77 church st, hawthorn. Victoria.