Lara Solomon began her career in marketing, but soon realised her passion for running her own business. In 2004, she started her first business selling mobile phone sock covers, which was successful for approximately five years and sold in over 2,500 retail stores in the UK and Australia. Since then, Lara has had multiple businesses, all offering physical products such as beach towel ponchos, swimming hats, and children's storybooks. Additionally, she established and managed Omlet pet products in Australia.
Hi Laura, what inspired you to launch Hoopsy?
I underwent IVF in 2021 to try and get pregnant and joined a lot of Facebook groups for women trying to have a baby. I was surprised to find out just how many tests women were using, particularly if they had embryo transfers. I totally understood why they tested so much – they just wanted to know, but the amount of plastic being used for literally 5 minutes was shocking. It was this that mulled around in my head for a few months, and then I decided that I wanted to do something about it.
Why was creating eco-friendly pregnancy tests important to you?
I found out that 840 million pregnancy tests are sold worldwide every year and that 95% of women prefer to use midstream tests (the worst plastic offenders). I then worked out that this equates to approximately 6 million kgs of plastic going into landfill every year. It was those figures that shocked me and prompted me to do something about it. There is no reason that a single-use product like a pregnancy test needs to be made from plastic – so I set up Hoopsy.
What impact has Hoopsy had on customers and the environment?
One impact is that for every test we sell that is one less plastic test going into a landfill. However, it is bigger than that – it opens people’s eyes to what can be achieved and questions the status quo in regard to everyday items as to whether they need to be plastic. For consumers it makes them feel less guilty about using lots of tests because they aren’t all plastic.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a female founder?
My biggest challenge was when one of my investors thought that he could intimidate me by threatening me, that was a massive shock, I couldn’t believe that he literally threatened me to my face, saying if I lost his money he would sue me – obviously he didn’t have a leg to stand on because investing is like gambling. However, it made me realise as a founder that you need to always be very choosy as to who joins your team, whether they are an investor, employee, contractor or adviser.
What have been your most significant career accomplishments?
Writing the book that I published in 2009, which was a diary of my first four years in business, was designed to help other founders understand that running a business is hard. I also think that with Hoopsy, people ask me why I decided to launch an eco test, and I know what prompted me, but now I do look back and think, wow that was a huge crazy decision – how did I get there!
What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?
Don’t stress so much about school and exams and don’t compare yourself to others as much. Both are far easier to say than to do. I know for me that school wasn’t a place where I shone, it was very much rote learning which is not my thing, but at university, it was completely different. I think that we are always comparing ourselves to friends, celebrities and others but you need to live your own life and do things your way, but it can be hard not to just follow what everyone else does and thinks is the norm.
What would you say has been the secret to your success?
Everyone tells me that it is the fact that I just keep going, I don’t give up easily. Plus, I just get in there and make things happen. Me, I don’t know, I think it is all about doing something that you are so passionate about that it doesn’t feel like work 95% of the time, and then the work and play lines blur because life is all fun.
Lara Solomon is the founder of Hoopsy, which makes eco-pregnancy tests that are made out of 99% paper.