Outside the Box Caskets design and manufacture 100 per cent biodegradable cardboard caskets, made in New Zealand from sustainable and recyclable materials. With no plastic, no metal and no other nasties, its caskets are a kinder, ecological solution to traditional timber and MDF caskets. Founder Becs Bartells is a designer with a degree in Industrial design and a background in character animation, furniture design and graphic design.

How did the idea for Outside the Box Caskets come about?

I first had the idea at my Nana’s funeral many years ago. I realised that there weren’t many options for caskets, they all looked the same and not many were environmentally friendly. Plus I thought her casket looked like something out of Dracula. So that’s when I started designing beautiful eco caskets. It took nearly two years of prototyping, but I eventually engineered a casket that met my goals of sustainability, quality and style.

What do you love most about being a business founder?

I love everything about it! Every day is different and I get to do my own thing without having to report to anyone. I’m following my dreams and not anyone else’s. Every milestone is a so much more rewarding when you’ve done it yourself.

What has been your biggest challenge so far in your entrepreneurial journey?

Being taken seriously in the funeral industry, it’s very cliquey; a lot of them are quite traditional too with not a heck of a lot of innovation. So it’s been hard coming in when you haven’t had a background in the industry.

What’s a business highlight you’re proud of?

Winning two gold Australasian Design Awards for my sustainable casket innovation. And being a finalist in the NZ Sustainable Business Awards.

What or who inspires you?

I’ve got so many people that inspire me, from friends to mentors and high profile biz icons. Any person that can create something from nothing is pretty inspirational in my books. And people that don’t give up on their dreams, that takes a lot of resilience.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Keep throwing shit at the wall until something sticks!

Do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs in NZ?

If you’ve got an idea, make sure you do your market validation first. It’s crucial. Surround yourself with positive supportive people. You’ll also be surprised how many people are willing to help if you just ask. And then just get stuck in and do it, perseverance is key!

How do you unwind from work?

Dancing in the dark on a Monday night in The Grey Lynn hall. It’s exactly what it sounds like and so liberating! Otherwise a good glass of chardy.

What three things can’t you live without?

My friends and family - they’re a massive support for me and then the other would be dancing, it’s my happy place. Oh and a good night’s sleep!

If you won RISE UP, what would you use the money for?

It would go into a few different things, sales and marketing for the NZ market and new tooling design for when we move into overseas markets.

Get your FREE ticket to watch our six finalists try to win $10,000 at our RISE UP Pitch Night in Hamilton on 17 August 2022.