Community rallies in attempt to save grassroots Aylesbury business after owner suffers life-changing crash

The future of the business is uncertain, after the owner was hospitalised following a collision in Aylesbury

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 11:14 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 6:48 pm

Thousands has been raised to support a grassroots business in Aylesbury after injuries suffered by the owner has put the shop's future in jeopardy.

Eco Bonobo owner, Natasha May, was involved in a two-vehicle collision in Aylesbury last month, while driving the company van.

The van was destroyed in the collision and Natasha suffered both physically and mentally. She is still on the mend.

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Natasha May owner of Eco Bonobo

Natasha said: "Believe me, I've been through all the stages; getting upset, feeling lucky to be alive. This is an integral part of the year for me - getting in products for Christmas, doing more events.

"This is my busiest time of the year, so it really couldn't have come at a worse time. To be honest, I worry that this will probably be the end of the business."

Beyond the mental anguish of losing the ability to do what she loves at an important time of year, Natasha has also had to return to driving just weeks after the incident to get her children, Shyloh and Colby, to school.

Natasha detailed the physical pain she's been dealing with, alongside the mental toll that being in a life altering crash has on a person.

Eco Bonobo

She told The Bucks Herald: "Luckily, I didn't break any bones, but there was a lot of damage to my sternum and ribs.

"After the first day in hospital a specialist came in and told me there might be possible damage to my spleen, they decided it wasn't bad enough to work on and that it would repair itself.

"But there would be a lot of pain. So, there was a lot of heavy drugs, to be honest, I don't really know what was happening over that first week, because I was in so much pain."

To better explain her injuries Natasha, described the immediate aftermath of the crash.

Natasha's son Colby

She said: "It happened so quickly, there wasn't an opportunity for me to do anything, but my partner was behind me on his bike so he saw the whole thing.

"My driver's door was bent, so he literally had to rip it off its hinges and when he opened the door, my coat was on fire.

"I was lucky to come away with fairly minor injuries, but now have pneumonia. I didn't realise how debilitating it is until now. I'm not happy about being behind a wheel again, but I can't do anything about it because I've got to get the kids to school."

One real source of positivity and a beacon of light to come out of such a dark time in Natasha's life has been the way the Aylesbury community has rallied to support her.

the van following the crash

A friend set up an online fundraiser which can be accessed here.

At the time of writing 86 donors have helped raise over £2,000 to help Natasha get the business back on its feet.

But that isn't the only way Natasha has been supported, regular customers and wellwishers have offered to open up the shop and work at Eco Bonobo for free.

Natasha said: "I've been very lucky that I've had volunteers. Literally customers, that have come in and said: 'can I open the shop for you?'

"It has only been able to be open for one or two days a week, but the generosity from people, that I don't really know, has been special.

"I've had food parcels, people offering to pack up orders for me, that I've had to train up over the phone as best I could.

"I can't believe it. The compassion that I've had from people, it's been phenomenal. I've never received anything like this before.

"For people to do that to take the time out of their day, to not get paid anything and to open the shop, so it can tick over the best it can, it's been amazing."

The business has always been a labour of love for the Aylesbury mum, especially due to its emphasis on lowering single use plastic.

Given Natasha is currently raising a young family, she hopes will still have a sustainable planet to grow old on.

She explained why financial support is needed to keep the business going, saying: "Even when I do go back, I'm going to need someone to lift all the 25 kilo sacks, I won't be able to do any of that for a long time.

"I'm going to have to employ someone before I've even effectively been able to employ myself. I've never given myself a wage. That's the only way I'm feasibly going to be able to do it now.

"Without the money that people have donated, I wouldn't have been able to continue. I'm extremely lucky."

Other logistical headaches detailed on the crowdfunding page include, getting Natasha's van out of a police compound and raising the money to replace it.

Natasha opened her shop Eco Bonobo, which is located on Duck Farm Court, in June. It is a sustainable, plastic free store, which sells carbon neutral products to help improve the environment.

mong the innovative items, Natasha sells are: bamboo toothbrushes, shampoo bars and paper cotton buds, to help the Aylesbury community lower its plastic use in a small way.

Natasha said: "Everything that I sell is plastic free, it's all sustainable, it's all coincidentally vegan, because, of course, that goes hand in hand with sustainability.

"It's a resource shop. So, the concept is you bring in your empty containers, whether they be food products or for liquid products, like washing up liquid, rices, pastas, things like that. And you can fill your containers up with as much as you want.

"The whole idea is so we're not buying into single use plastic. People have been given the impression that it is more expensive, but it's really not.

"Pound-for-pound everything works out cheaper than it would buying it in the supermarket. To fill up washing up liquid is 90p. Herbs, which are usually a pound, are literally 25p.

"Our conditioner bars last for a year, and when you think about how many bottles of conditioner one person alone goes through, it's quite incredible.

"Everything that I sell I use myself, and I wouldn't ever want to sell anything that I don't use."

To keep a business she started from scratch and is so passionate about, Natasha will need even more generosity and kindness from the Aylesbury community.