A friendly chat with Marine from Papaï.fr
Reading time: 9 minutes | Written with love by: Jérémie
If you are looking for a 0 waste and Végan online sales site, Papaï.fr is for you! Jérémie proves it to you in an interview with Marine, the designer of your next favorite boutique.
In a few words, can you tell us who you are?
My name is Marine, I am 27 years old and I am the founder of Papai.fr.
The idea of creating the shop came to me with the wish for intelligent consumerism, to check the ingredients and origin without wasting a lot of time reading the product labels.
Great, when did you start your online shop?
The shop was up and running in December 2019, so it’s been a little over a year now.
What were the major difficulties in creating your shop?
I would say carrying out the project alone. For two reasons:
When I created the shop, entrepreneurship was very new to me and when you are on your own you need to wear several hats (accounting, purchasing, communication…). It was not at all easy to have the necessary knowledge in all areas and to organise myself to find a rhythm and not feel overwhelmed.
At the start I felt alone in believing in my project, I had the impression that I was the cliché of the hippie and utopian vegan. I had a lot of people who didn’t share my enthusiasm “nah, that’s never going to work”…
But it motivated me to push myself even more (laughs).
And yet there is a whole community out there!
Can you describe your typical day?
I start my day by reading a chapter of my current book, then I have lunch (often while answering my emails and taking care of all the administrative stuff).
I take pictures for social networks (it can take me hours !) and I prepare my orders before sending them.
I have to admit that I’m on my phone too much, but for me, I find happiness on social networks or crowdfunding websites.
So when you go on Instagram and Ulule, what are you looking for precisely, what are your selection criteria?
I try to find companies that share the same values and the same approach as me. I really want to offer more than just nice products, it’s very important to me that the purchase is useful and has meaning.
I also saw that you really emphasize the made in France, do you feel that the area of new business creation is bubbling over at the moment?
I feel like the trend is really strong, it’s certainly dynamic and that’s what’s cool!
We have understood it even more with this pandemic. I also try to highlight a selection of companies that are local to where I live and it’s crazy all these people full of talent with the will to change things near my home.
Now people are paying much more attention to what they buy, even in my circle of contacts.
I see that for example my dad, who is not at all into my stuff, is now more aware and is careful of what he buys.
It’s really nice that people are changing their behaviour!
And you, I guess that you are vegan too?
For how long?
I’ve been a vegetarian for about 8 years and a vegan for about 4-5 years.
And what was your motivation to become vegan?
It was really a snap decision taken with my boyfriend. I saw a video of L214 (French animal rights association) on the news and I said to myself “I will never eat meat again”.
Then I read up on vegetarian issues and said to myself, it is horrible what we do to animals! My impact is very small.
As time went on I learnt more and more and that’s when I became a vegan.
What was the hardest for you between these two phases, as going from omnivore to vegetarian is not the same as going from vegetarian to vegan….
I would say that at the beginning the biggest difficulty was coping with the people around me. The first two weeks they said “it’s a little crisis, it will pass” but after a few months they said “well ok, that’s how it is”.
It was a bit complicated, there were a lot of debates within my family that I was setting myself apart, they didn’t understand the process at all and that’s what was also the most complicated.
Also what was not easy was to find vegetarian/vegan products, to always have to look at all the labels because one does not realize that (meat products) are everywhere!
Now things have changed with the people around me, even if there are still two or three small debates from time to time. I started cooking and that’s definitely the best way to convince people (laughs).
Even if I’m still a bit of an outsider in my family, now people ask me for advice on how to cook vegan and that’s really cool!
(Laughs) You finally got used to it and so did they! You found some common ground…
That’s our common ground, I can communicate better than at the beginning…. it must be the case for many people.
At the beginning we are so taken by the subject and we find that it is so horrible what happens, that we want to talk about it immediately and we don’t understand why the others don’t realise!
So at the beginning there were big debates and I wasn’t always nice to people because I couldn’t express myself very well and that was the most complicated for me.
Yes, to detach yourself from the desire to convince everyone and save the world, to see that in front of you everyone has their own perception of things!
You have to accept that everyone has their own opinion.
In any case, when it comes to diet, in France it’s quite complicated to impose anything on people, you can’t…
I understand the problem! And today, Papaï’s values are zero waste, made in France, and veganism, so particularly attentive to the animal cause.
Do you manage to find products on your shop that combine these three components quite easily or is it a bit of an obstacle course?
It’s still a bit complicated, I found you (Les Bio Frères) first (laughs).
But yes, it’s a bit of an obstacle course because often if it’s zero waste, it’s not necessarily vegan and if it’s vegan it’s not always made in France.
To reach these three criteria, it’s true that you have to look carefully. At the beginning I had a lot of hesitation, I had a bit of a dilemma: Do I offer vegan products from suppliers who are not necessarily vegan?
After a long reflection I decided to offer products from suppliers who were not 100% vegan but who wanted to work for the planet.
Yes, I understand it’s a real dilemma!
If one day McDonalds starts to make 100% vegan burgers it will be a dilemma for a lot of people!
Oh yes! (laughs)
And the zero waste how do you manage it since you have an online shop?
I’m intrigued about that because we also have an online shop and we’d like to reduce as much waste as possible.
How do you go about it?
At the start, it was a real headache!
From A to Z I try to use only recycled cardboard, the little note in the package is made of seeded paper, the packing material is made of corn and the stickers are vegan (without fish glue).
It’s complicated, especially at the beginning it was really hard but I tried to look at everything, it takes me a long time to do each step but at least I know it all by heart.
For example, I buy very little cardboard, I reuse cardboard boxes that I get from product delivery. If I really have no choice, I choose 100% recycled and recyclable boxes.
The same goes for products that I buy, I try to ensure that the packaging is recycled and recyclable. It’s all about looking, investigating and checking all the time!
Can you tell us what are the best-sellers on your website? What’s working best at the moment?
I have two best-sellers :
The « Objet fétiche » a spread made with 46% hazelnuts by Clémence and Simon, its praline taste is quite crazy.
And also the “Hyères washing liquid”, a wood ash laundry washing liquid which is made in my town. Do you know it?
No, I don’t know either of these!
That’s what I saw earlier, you have a lot of products that I haven’t discovered yet and it really makes me want to discover them!
The spread is your best-seller…
That’s one of the things that happen when you stop Nutella, you discover the taste of real spreads and you don’t feel like you’re eating oil! it’s great!
The washing liquid you mentioned is part of the zero waste movement, there are lots of people who make their own washing powder.
Rosalie, my wife has become an expert, so what does this one have to offer that is extra?
It’s a 100% natural, homemade detergent made in Hyres by Vanessa and Vincent, they’re really great people who care about doing something cool for the planet and their laundry washing liquid is great!
I tried it and not only does it smell good, but it works really well!
In fact, I wanted to sell this product for people who are not yet into the whole “I make my own wash powder” thing – after a while it seems obvious to us and it’s easy, but to get into it, it’s maybe more complicated to say oh my, I’m going to have to do my own wash powder, make my own cosmetics and it’s going to be a big headache!”
Yes, it’s not bad at all what they do! And no need for fabric softener, great!
Because it’s sure that when you switch to more natural washing and you go back to your parents’ or in-laws’ house afterwards, your laundry smells so strong for months, it’s terrible (laughs).
And what is your favourite product in your shop if you could only choose one?
It’s complicated (laughs) but since I’m vegan and it’s important, I’d say it’s your B12 because I can’t swallow pills and it’s been a revolution for me to have chewable food supplements.
Ah, that’s nice ! Thank you!
Honestly, before, it was an ordeal every morning!
Plus with the different flavours it’s great! All my friends agree with me.
And which one is your favourite?
Mine is raspberry!
Oh, you’re team raspberry too, it’s the most popular!
Have you tried the apple yet?
Yes, I’ve already tasted the apple! On my website, the one that sells the best is Passion Fruit.
Really ? Maybe it’s because Passion Fruit is colour-coordinated with the colours on your web site, it’s psychological.
Apart from that, do you have any advice for people who are considering our ethos?
On how to check the origin of their products, little tips you can give since you are an expert in that field now!
Even if I’ve become a pro at reading labels very quickly, I would say that there are no tips except for a few websites, which is why I wanted to create the Papaï website, where you can buy with your eyes closed.
Because even though I’ve been vegan for years, I keep discovering new things where you can find products made with animals.
That moment when you realise what’s in a jelly sweet…a classic. (laughs)
There you go (laughs)
But, apart from reading the labels, your advice is to go to PaPaï.fr to buy with your eyes closed (laughs)
Yes, that’s right (laughs)
For vegan and vegetarian beginners, would you have 2-3 ideas for quick and simple, healthy dishes ?
Do you have these in your shop?
Cooking seems super complicated at first. I remember the first time I brought cakes to a friend’s house, they were really hard and nobody wanted them. But you have to start slowly and it’ll come right in the end.
I think that to begin with, you shouldn’t try to find the taste of a basic dish but try something else.
You shouldn’t look for something too complicated because often when you say “vegan”, people in their heads think “complicated tofu”, “how can we do it”, “it’s not tasty”…
When in fact there are some basics that we always eat without realising that they are vegan.
So what are your basics?
I’d say the red lentil curry with coconut milk, we’ve been eating it for years and we didn’t even realise it was vegan.
Oh great, if you have the recipe I’ll add it at the bottom of the article!
(laughs) I’ll send it to you then.
I would stick to the basics because when I cook it’s really not complicated, I make tofu in sauce with rice or things like that.
I’m not a pro yet (laughs).
No, we’re not all professionals and that’s why it’s nice to get ideas from everyone, because some people spend hours cooking and others buy vegan junk food – yes, even that exists now.
So everyone manages as best they can, the idea is to try to find ways to not complicate life too much so that it’s not an ordeal to manage.
Thank you for all this great info and have a nice day!
Thanks for the invitation, have a nice day!
Recipe for red lentil curry with coconut milk
- 2 yellow onions
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I like peanut oil for this recipe)
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 50 cl water
- 250g red lentils
- 10 cl coconut milk
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- salt and pepper
- Peel and chop the onions and fry in oil with the curry powder.
- Once they are translucent, add the lentils with 50 cl of water, salt and pepper.
- Cover and simmer over a low heat until the lentils are cooked, then add the coconut milk.
- Leave to cook on a high heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the peanut butter and cook for a few more minutes, then serve (with rice it’s delicious!)
Illustration of Marine drawn with love by Rosalie Delabre
Written with love by: Jérémie