Have you always been an entrepreneur?
After studying, I starting working for Crabtree & Evelyn, an English and American bath and body brand with a strong English heritage. I worked there for about 13 years and spent a lot of time on the shop floor, learning about retail and importing. All our products were shipped in from Wales.
Then I got fed up with importing. We can’t keep exporting raw stuff and importing the final products – we need to make the products ourselves. I’d visited a few factories around the world and had seen what manufacturing looked like; I never understood why we couldn’t do it in SA. So I resigned from Crabtree and started The Bespoke Amenities Company. We manufacture and supply hospitality cosmetics.
So Zero Bar is the younger sibling?
Yes! I’ve always had the itch to be more involved in the consumer side of things because everything we do is business to business and hospitality-based. In terms of sustainability, we are doing an International Standards Organisation certification in environmental management and are becoming carbon neutral certified.
What is a shampoo bar?
Shampoo bars have been around for years, but aren’t as widely available. It’s a solid bar made up of oils and other eco-friendly ingredients. Zero Bar came about because we had been looking at different ways to package shampoo to make it more environmentally friendly. Why should shampoo be in a plastic bottle when a solid shampoo bar gives you exactly the same feeling in your hair? It has most of the same ingredients and performs the same way, but the benefit is that you don’t have to package it in plastic.
Also, it’s concentrated, so it doesn’t contain water. Most shampoos are about 70 to 75 percent water, whereas ours has no water at all. So you reduce the carbon footprint of transport, increase space in your bathroom, and take away the need for plastic – it’s the best solution.
How much plastic is too much plastic?
In the USA it’s estimated that 560 million shampoo bottles are discarded and not recycled each year, so it’s an enormous amount. We worked out recently that we’ve sold enough Zero Bars to eliminate a rugby field-sized block of plastic!
Tell us about your first steps.
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