Dee Wood MDE21

Six years ago Dee Wood was looking for something to do. Her father was semi-retired and, she says, “We thought, ‘Right. What are we good at?’” She jokes that the list was a short one, but in fact they had always been good at something.

The house she grew up in had been a burned-out Georgian property. “It would have cost a fortune to run,” Dee says, “but we made it sustainable.” They did this by restoring, reducing, reusing and recycling, using imaginative solutions to sustain a lower-energy lifestyle and save money.

So Dee and her father set up (they are co-owners and it’s a limited company), a site dedicated to practical products and ideas to help reduce energy consumption and save money.

Set up primarily as a B2C business, does also supply water softeners to a couple of restaurant chains, “But to supply to high-street shops, our overheads would be gigantic,” Dee says, “so we stick to B2C”. The customer base is diverse: “We have some who are traditional eco-customers, all about getting back to basics, but we have others who are all about the money.” The site did start life as a consultancy but, Dee says, she doesn’t really like the term: “People might think we’re going to give them a 100-page document.”

Watching the greenbacks

It would be easy to think that a company like this is all about selflessly saving the world but Dee is sanguine. “We are certainly making a living,” she says, adding, “There is the potential for anyone in this market to make money, though we’re not in the diamond industry.” Dee’s business is proof that you “don’t have to live in a mud hut and turn all your lights off” to live sustainably.

Nonetheless, Dee is passionate about helping people make good sustainable choices. “What we want to do is make sustainable, low-cost living the norm for everyone across the UK.”

Running an e-commerce business is a great way to make spreading the message as easy as possible. “We're like going to your dad or a friend for advice. Everyone wants that. That’s why there are so many review sites out there. We’ve used or tested all our products ourselves and people were always asking us what we used or how we did it, so it made sense.” She adds, “We spend a lot of our time getting the products in and testing them physically in different situations. It’s about experience with the product. We are not pile-high, sell-cheap.” In fact the company keeps as little stock as possible: “Stock can cripple any business. Bigger items such as composting toilets we drop ship and smaller items we keep in stock, but ideally I would drop ship as much as possible.”

Dee Wood of It Does The Job

Managing the Marketing

With any e-commerce business, driving traffic is a perennial concern. “Because we have run a businesses before, before we are wary of getting tied into fixed contracts even on things like CRMs and things like that,” says Dee, “So we have been very careful in what we have done. For us, it’s about putting great content out there, which can be time-consuming – some posts aren’t picked up by Google for three months – but people don’t want to hear that!”

Even their productivity tools are lean: “We use open source products,” says Dee, and they also use Voice over IP (VoIP) services so they can work anywhere: “We are not in a design business, so Open Office does everything we want it to do. Knowing you don’t have to be tied in gives you real flexibility.

A lot of people think they have to have a flashy setup but they don’t.”

In terms of marketing, Dee says she does Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram but doesn’t pay for advertising. “If we can’t see where the benefit is going to come from, then we won’t do it,” she says, adding, “It would be great to have tons of money to invest in this sort of thing but in some ways it’s really good because you really have to think about it properly.”

Though she says she isn’t in this to “make a quick buck” Dee’s hope is that five years down the line someone would look at the site and think, ‘That’s a really nice thing that I would like to buy!’ and then it will be off to the next thing that makes sustainability normal."

Favourite business book

“I have never read a business book but I read a lot of newspapers and business magazines. What’s important for me is keeping in touch with the world and all the things that are going on. So many things impact on what I do, such as electricity prices, so it’s important to read a variety of publications.”

Productivity tools

“I use Evernote. With tools like Evernote you have to work them properly. I dumped everything in at first without thinking but when you sit down and sort through it all it can be so efficient. One of the reasons I like it is that we are a paperless office so I need to be able to access things online and everywhere. There are lots of tools that claim to make your life better but you need to work at it.”


VTiger (CRM)

Open Office

Motivational quote

“This doesn’t sound very inspiring but I do say it a lot: ‘Worse things happen at sea.’ What I mean by that is that it can be hard to have perspective when all consequences are down to you but things could always have been worse. Let’s deal with the situation as it is.” 

For more information visit:

Connect with Dee on Twitter at @ItDoesTheJob

And if you were interested in that Guy Jeremiah interview and the water fountain map we mentioned at the start, you can find that here

I really hope you enjoyed Dee's story, whether you just read it here or listened to the podcast. As always, the story is best told by Dee herself; so do grab yourself a coffee and have a listen.

If you have any thoughts or comments about this episode, please do share them on Twitter or Facebook – I’d love to hear from you!

And finally, if you did listen to the show I would be hugely grateful if you could leave an honest review for The Mission Driven Entrepreneurs Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They're so important to the ranking of the show and I do read every one. If you've left one already, thank you so much!

Click here to open the show in iTunes where you can leave a review and you can also subscribe to get new episodes automatically.

Thanks again to Dee for sharing her story with us.