In a nutshell, Karst Stone Paper was launched in July 2017 with $30,000 in savings from Jon Tse and my fellow co-founder Kevin Garcia who were visiting Taiwan on holidays (Jon was working in the education industry and Kevin came from a medical devices background) when they came across a new material coined 'stone paper' which was created through years and years of testing and R&D there in Taiwan. It was used for food packaging due to its miraculous properties - for example being waterproof. This piqued their interest and they went to the south of Taiwan in a city called Tainan to visit the original creator of stone paper. This was basically the lightbulb moment where they thought it was crazy that no one had tried to disrupt the toxic and enormous traditional pulp paper industry with a much more sustainable and ecofriendly alternative in stone paper.
Without getting too scientific, stone waste is collected from industrial, mining and construction quarries before being transported locally to our stone paper manufacturer in Tainan, Taiwan. This recycled rubble is then ground down into a fine 'stone powder' which is then combined with a high quality, non-toxic resin (which acts as a glue and binds the particles together). Heat and pressure is then applied through a lot of rotations and through heavy rollers until it is thin enough to be used as paper. They then cut and bind the paper into our notebooks, notepads and sketchpads. There are a lot of environmental benefits of using stone paper versus traditional pulp paper (energy, water, trees, etc).
They then created the brand and made their first notebook products (A5 Hardcover notebooks). Fast forward two years and Karst have sold over 70,000 units to customers in over 85 countries (interestingly 70% of Karst customers are in the US). Karst are now stocked in over 100 stores around the world, with the aim of being in 2,000 stores by the end of next year. Furthermore, a lot of big organisations really appreciate the Karst brand, values and products and want to align with what Karst stand for so they have ordered notebooks for their employees or for induction packs or for corporate gifting or for events. Some customers include Facebook, WeWork, Dermalogica and Karst were also selected to be in the goodie bag at this year's official TED2019 event in Vancouver.