Jenny Wilks from OurEco Clean answers our questions on the eco friendly, Australian made cleaning products.
How and when did you first come into contact with OurEco Clean products?
I met our founder Kym when she was demonstrating her products at Wray Organics. I was looking for non-toxic cleaning products, after discovering my very first pet dog (a whippet) was much faster than I at collecting any food I dropped on my floor!
You were obviously impressed. Why?
OurEco Clean’s product’s really do work better than traditional cleaning products. The biggest surprise for me was that cleaning was no longer a chore! The use of essential oils in the products makes your home smell like a day spa, it lingers well after the cleaning done, providing a reward for the effort!
What makes OurEco Clean so unique?
They provide the perfect balance between efficacy, good for us and good for our environment! Also, the ethics and integrity behind the brand. When you meet Kym, you realise the mission is authentic, there is a desire to get more distribution to make our difference on people and the planet (as opposed to simply chasing profit). It is why they are so reasonably priced for what you get and it made us eager to help her!
Why are the ingredients so important and what are they?
OurEco Clean was created from necessity, after Kym found no alternatives for her highly allergy-prone son. Also her mum ended up in hospital from toxins in everyday products made for our homes. So, OurEco Clean is focused on going back to basics and creating effective cleaning products like grandma used to make, using as fewer ingredients as we can to do the job. These include plant based solubilisers used in food to safely disburse our essential oils, bi-carb, alcohol and filtered water. Many of our products only have three or four ingredients & where-ever possible, these are plant based and food grade.
Who “invented” the products?
Our founder Kym. She is a genius when it comes to blending and planet-friendly innovation – we joke she missed her calling in the major Parisian parfum houses!
How did that come about?
Kym was a model, and after becoming a Mum she developed these products for her children. There was instant demand from friends and the business commenced in her garage. We recently had our third factory move and we have products that have won international awards and are distributed from NZ to the USA. Australian Native Botanicals have some magical properties and we are working with scientists who are making amazing health discoveries using our Native flora and fauna.
What household areas do OurEco Clean products clean?
Everything! Our Bicarb Paste is so versatile – Kym used it recently to get rust & terracotta stains out of cement! I have used it to remove pen from a vintage leather handbag and it is the bomb for removing soap scum from glass shower screens and bringing stainless steel back to a shiny new state! It is a drawing agent, so when left on to do it’s thing, it also gets red wine off white couches. Our Mould Spray helps keep ants out of the home, mould out of shower grout and spiders out of outdoor furniture.
How many different products are there?
We currently have 11 products for sale in most organic and independent retailers and health food stores around Australia – there is a “where to buy” on our website www.ourecoclean.com.au. During 2019, we have been doing some massive R&D for five and six star hotels and we have created some very exciting products for release in 2020 – follow us on facebook and insta to stay informed!
Which product is the biggest seller?
Oh that is a tough question – I think our air fresheners and bicarb paste, but depending on the time of year our mould spray and multipurpose spray are contenders and long-term customer favourites.
Who are the type of people who buy OurEco Clean?
We have an army of customers who have had health issues that disappeared when they tossed out their toxic chemicals and made the switch to OurEco Clean – it is why we created our Ultimate Kit that you can buy online. Our customers are also concerned about our environment and the toxic chemicals that flow down our drains and into our waterways.
OurEco Clean won a prestigious award in Hong Kong. Could you tell us about it please?
Our Mould Spray is iconic, especially in our hot, humid tropical climate. It will not remove built in mould stains (you need our paste for that), but used frequently, it will prevent mould from occurring. As discussed, it is also a great insect deterrent – they don’t like the clove oil! We donated a pallet load of this to the Townsville community after the floods in 2019 and the shops had run out of clove oil. We are only a small business, but we care about our customers and our community and do what we can to contribute.
When did you decide you wanted to invest in OurEco Clean?
From the moment we tried the products, wanted to help Kym take her amazing products to the world stage. The catalyst was when my husband and I sold our last business to help us fund our way into a business that was more aligned to our own personal desires to make a difference for our planet, and to enable us to contribute to Australia’s exports to the USA, respecting a trade relationship that has relevance to my family history – our exports started this year, coinciding with 100 years of the US/Australian trade relationship!
You have had a long and distinguished business career. Could you give us some insight into this please?
I am good with numbers and it has been what I have done my whole life. It has given me a unique and diverse set of business skills and real-world experience as I have helped many Australian entrepreneurs scale their businesses and survive high growth cash flow risks and create rewards for taking measured risks. But it has not been my passion – I have helped them achieve theirs! Now my work is driven by my passion for improving our waterways and it is completely transformational.
Could you also tell us about your connection with the sea and what part this has played into getting you involved with OurEco Clean.
As a child growing up, I missed the clues that showed I had a hidden passion for sailing. My family lived near the water and we had a boat that was used for family fishing trips and overnights, but it wasn’t until I hit my late 20s that I decided I wanted to learn to sail. My mum was doing our family tree at the time and discovered one of my ancestors was a participant in the first Sydney to Hobart – I guess I have inherited some of his genes! Seeing the degradation in our reefs globally over the past decade I have been sailing and scuba diving has shocked me into being the change to do something about it. My daily motivation is now deeply connected to my love of the sea and on tough days, I look at the struggles our marine life endure, and it forces me to take the risks and to step up and be the change.
When will you begin taking it to the US market?
The US market is a massive market and with the help of Trade & Investment Queensland, we have spent four years identifying and preparing for launching our ‘go to market’ strategy. We have been building our networks in the USA and identifying our key point of difference. We have developed the strategy and we have been putting in place the technology, systems, procedures and team that we need to have success. This year, we made considerable investments setting up our back office in Pennsylvania, and we have appointed our US tax attorney, our US Patent and Trademark Attorney, US Insurance Attorney, US Product compliance attorney and our US Employment Law attorney. It is not a market for the feint hearted and the minimum investment required is north of $500,000.
You clearly see an opportunity. What does your market research in the US show?
Similar to the Australian market – Good for Me/Good for the planet …. nailing innovation that meets consumers needs in the most sustainable and affordable way is the name of the game.
Tell us about the sea voyage you are about to embark on and what that means to you and what it will do for environmental change?
I am honoured to be chosen out of 10,000 applicants to participate as crew and an ongoing ambassador of #eXXpedition. A team of 300 women will spend 2 years undertaking 30 voyages as they sail a global circumnavigation visiting four of the five gyres of ocean plastic doing citizen research in conjunction with leading ocean sustainability universities the University of Plymouth in the UK and the University of Georgia in the USA. SV TravelEdge left Plymouth in November and is currently on Voyage 5 transiting the Panama. Far North Queensland will be the first port of call for Australia and I am excited to be doing research around our very own Great Barrier Reef on Leg 14 from Cairns to Darwin. My role now is focused on rallying Australians to get behind #eXXpedition, help me to raise funds for the voyage (part of my crew commitment) and to make the crew feel valued and welcomed when they arrive in Australia, which will be the half way point for the 2 year journey! I have set up a GoFundMe link to allow concerned Aussies to show they care and that they are prepared to support this important research: https://www.gofundme.com/f/join-me-in-saving-oceans-with-exxpedition
If you could change one thing from your past eco-footprint what would it be? Do you think it would have made a difference to the world today?
I have made some huge changes – ones that have endeared me to my husband too (Haha)….I used to be the worlds biggest shopper. I now think twice about my consumption every single day. Now I wear Ocean Trash to Black Tie events and if I do buy something, it is from an upcycled social business, like one I visited recently in Melbourne where I picked the charity who got the funds – a local dog rescue!
We have changed how we buy food and what food we eat, how much we eat, etc. Social media has made us more aware of how industries operate and their social impacts. Being open to change and becoming aware of past activities that were harmful, while exploring new things is critical to being the change. It is fun too! I love Ottolenghi – he has taught me how to up-cycle humble veggies, a skill that will come in handy doing crew vegetarian cooking on #eXXpedition!
Apart from using products such as OurEco Clean, what else do you want to see people change in their every day living to assist with their eco-footprint?
If you see plastic in the street, please pick it up and dispose of it thoughtfully. Also consider the many citizen science, creative arts, and cleanup missions like Ausmap, Ocean Crusaders paddle cleanups, Cicada Film Festival etc. It is a great way to keep fit and mobile, make new friends, and make valuable contributions to your community.
Finally, support and follow the valuable research being done over the next two years by #eXXpedition; follow the Ellen McArthur Foundation to learn which multi-national companies are leading the change in their Corporate Social Responsibility commitment.
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