In this week’s episode, Geoff is talking to Ellie Degraeve who was a Finalist in the 2021 Queensland Community Achievement Awards.
Ellie ( founder) began her toxin-free journey when her newborn (Gracie) developed rashes using ‘mainstream’ skincare products. Determined to help her daughter, she dedicated her time to researching product labelling. She was horrified to discover the ingredients involved (and it is safe to say that she became a bit of a toxin-free nerd).
When she researched and tested toxin-free products, there were so many suppliers producing top quality products in plastic containers. This created a sore spot in our heart and fire in our bellies to only provide products that are safe for you and our planet. It led us to a business decision that shaped us to be who we are today. We decided to stop plastic at its source and no longer sell any products that were predominantly packaged in plastic.
Ellie spent a whole year learning about all things business, accounting, marketing, websites, wholesale, packing processes, writing product descriptions until her hands were sore (not kidding). She was finally ready to press the launch button and send out her first EDM to a few hundred emails she had collected through her pop-up store test model. From then on go for zero quickly outgrew her spare room, then Murrays (Ellie’s husbands) grandmas garage, then to another pop up store on the main street,
Warehouse all within 9 months of launching! After 2.5 years we seriously outgrew our Moffat Beach Warehouse, ran another 2 pop-up stores in Sunshine Coast shopping centres, and secured 3 permanent mini-stores from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast. We have now moved into our new space at Kunda Park that is 3 x the size of our Moffat Beach Warehouse!
Go For Zero aims to help people reduce the amount of waste and chemicals in their home, whether that be through our products, educating them on sustainable actions they can make (e.g. how to recycle properly), or motivating them with positive things that people are doing in the sustainability space (a topic that can often become so negative and scary).
In this episode:
- We hear how only 12% of what we put in our recycling bin actually gets recycled
- Imagine building your website and online business only to get no sales! We heard how determination and persistence paid off for Ellie
Purchase goods at the website https://goforzero.com.au/
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Welcome to the Inspirational Australians podcast, where we check to people making a difference in their communities and in the lives of others. And here is your host for today. Geoff Griffin.
Welcome to the Inspirational Australians podcast stories of inspiring achievements and community contribution. Every week we celebrate an award program category. Winner or finalist. We hope you’ll be inspired and encouraged to know that Australia is in good hands, together with our corporate partners and not for profit partners, Awards, Australia, showcase ordinary people from right across Australia. Doing extraordinary things. If you enjoy hearing the stories of our Inspirational Australians, please subscribe. Write us any reviews. We’d really appreciate it. This week’s Inspirational Australian podcast guest is Ellie Degraeve with a number of Go For Zero. You got to love this story. Ellie’s amazing Go For Zero is extraordinary. Ellie is very passionate about zero Toxin products. Ellie, welcome to the podcast.
Thank you for having me.
Absolute pleasure. I’ve been hearing off a little bit about your daily life, and I think people will be fascinated. How did the idea for Go for Zero, come about?
It actually started with my daughter and my first daughter grace, when she was born. I would just use normal mainstream products on home like bath in the Delaware, any mainstream brands. And I would just see that she could really burst into rashes. And at the start as a mom, you think it’s all about you. So I so very I tried different food things because when you breastfeed you think it’s all, it’s something that you do. And that did not help. It was really by coincidence that I was just looking at the products that I was using on her. And I was trying to understand the ingredients list at some of these kids products which you as a mom really rely on, you think it’s all safe. It’s perfectly fine for a little baby skin and because I couldn’t understand what the ingredients were, I started just to research what to actually do I put on my kid’s skin. Could that be something she reacted to and I was absolutely blown away, absolutely blown away by learning what the ingredients are, how they react to her skin. But I think the thing that was the hardest for me to understand was how can a product like this be on the shelves? How is there No regulation from the government that, that shouldn’t be in the products for the kids? ? Or how can big companies like that just promote products lighter without any warnings or it’s almost like they tried to make you not understand the ingredients, because once you know what they are, you wouldn’t want to use it on you. You wouldn’t want to use petroleum on use and parabens on you once we know what’s in it, we wouldn’t use it. So I think as a mum going back, that’s really what started off my Toxin free journey and the research into the companies into their ingredients. And from there it led me to really start my Toxin free journey, which started with my kids and it just from my kids, it started to my skin care and it became a little snowball effect. I looked at my cleaning products, which I thought was one of the main, the worst chemicals I would say there. And I just started to make a smoke for myself. I started to make my own products, which some were massive fails. So I wouldn’t say I’m going to say I wasn’t great at it, but I just, I had that something fire in my belly to really not use anymore. What is just on the shelves because I saw when I research said that, that’s absolutely not what I would want to put on my kids or have in my house.
I guess for them the time. When it affects your family directly, particularly your children that you love and want to protect, then that becomes very real for you.
Yeah, and I think it’s the real driver. Since then, my kids have been a real driver also rolling into the zero waste because once you start looking at all these ingredients and then you look at the packaging, and then you learn about recycling for me, it was just, it was this big AHA moment that just led into reading about, for example, the Plastic that it comes in that once we recycled in a recycling bin, only 12 percent truly gets recycled. So we think whatever we put in the recycling bin will get recycled, but there’s such a minor amount that does so I think all that came together and for me I just had enough, I think. And I wanted to find one place where I know I could trust the products that they have no toxins in them. They wouldn’t harm us, but also wouldn’t harm the planet so that the products are also not packaged in Plastic, that they’re easy to recycle. If they’re recyclable, like glass and metal because they have a very high recycling rate compared to Plastic is very low. And that’s actually what kicked off everything to Go For Zero. That one spot that I wanted people to be able to come to and absolutely trust that the products do good for them, but also do good for the planet.
Sounds like a win within the health of an individual and health of the planet. I can’t get much better than that. We ghassan zero has three principles, doesn’t it? When you look for products, what are they?
Yeah, so first of all, but I touched upon is I researched the ingredients and I really look, if they totally say the first ones they are, I’ll look at the packaging. So when they come in Plastic which is just a no go for me. We don’t do it. And then the third one is I really wanted to support where I live, really wanted to support Australian families. So all our sustainable products are also founded by Australians. So that means for example, we have toothpaste adult and little tablets that you just chew. So there’s no toothpaste tubes for example anymore. And there’s a lot of brands out that you have brands in the UK. You have brands in the US. But for me, it made no sense to have all this shipping emissions then to get a sustainable product here, but then have, have it come on the boat for so far. So I’m just supporting Australian companies to support local but also again for the planet because it reduces our emissions enormously.
Yeah, well I guess we don’t always think about the bigger picture of the emissions that are caused by actually getting things here. Not to mention supporting local products and local businesses, which is really critical in these really difficult COVIDt times. We certainly know how tough it is, and I’m sure you do as well with your business, but also for others. Played Go For Zero. I was born in your spare bedroom and tell us about the start of the journey. You know, that must. You must look back with a big smile and think, well, the journey and the growth, the business has been extreme. Can you tell us a bit about that journey and how you transitioned?
Yeah, I really. It was a real big jump. I just, I have, I’m a psychologist. My background is in psychology and I did a master’s in coaching after the two. And when we moved to Australia because my husband is Australian, I really knew I had this passion for these products and I knew I wanted to start something. I thought if I won something like that and I can’t find one place where people can find these products, there must be other people out there like me who want this. So I just started in our spare bedroom. I think I took about maybe 15 brands on launch the website and then like everyone, you launch website, you push the button. You think like, Oh, sales will come in, but absolutely nothing happened.
I want to burst the bubble for anyone that’s launching a website. It’s like, that’s great, that’s great job done. But that does not mean you’ll have any sales. So it’s really about how do you promote your products? How do you get out there? ? How do you get on top of mind of customers? So what I personally does, I opened a local pop up store here where I live, which was in calandra then and that went extremely well for us. That was, I was in during the summer holidays, and the main thing for me day was to learn what other people were really after. That people really missed how the product to understand how the products work. So that became one of my focuses, besides promoting that, we have these products every single day. I show up on Instagram, on social media, and I explain these products. For example, I have on my desk here, I have like two drops. So that’s a mouthwash. And it’s only two drops you put in a glass of water, you add the water to these drops and you have a full glass of mouthwash from just two drops. So if I put it on the website, people, even if they want to Go for Zero waste and without chemicals, it’s still very hard to understand product. So my role has really evolved to explaining every single day how do these products work? Why are they better? How much waste their juice and to really help people on their journey. And so that started in my bedroom with a pop up store. And we from there we went to the garage of my husband’s family. And then we took me to a warehouse and now three years later, we’re in a 300 square metre warehouse. So we’ve had a really exponential growth. So the business went a lot of passion and a lot of hard work. So it’s
also a lot of hard work and a big shout out set in Queensland, our friends who are enriching, or they’re just close by to where you started. Your first pop up, the very big supporters of our programs to thank them for that. I’m sure some people will think, Oh, I was pretty easygoing, but as you said, you launched a website that would have been taken to work too. I imagine it click the button off, you go and nothing happens. So how did you get your own online business? Moving and shaking.
Yeah, for me it really the pop up store helped because I collected email addresses from people. Then I could email them and say like hey, this is a product that you both like. It took a lot of individual contact to be honest for me to stop at Yes. And then slowly you roll into advertising and Google advertising and Facebook advertising. And that’s where you can actually reach instead of just the local customers. But I could reach Australians and even we get orders from the US. So these things really helped us to get the word out. And then if you have the ROI basics and if you really promote what you stand for and how you’re different from other stores. I think then people start to really understand and it’s word of mouth too. It goes from one customer. If they buy something they love, they might tell their friends and I tell their family and it spreads out like that. So I think you have returned customers. So I think advertising really helped us, but I had to start off really slow with a pop up store because I had to learn more about how to do this because I had never run an online store. I had to learn everything from
scratch. Was it a bit depressing to start with you now? ? You sort of think have these dreams that you launching a website and it’s all going to happen and yeah, Oh,
I wouldn’t say it because I’m so passionate about what I do. I would say I always felt like if I can only tell people, they’ll love it. You know, like, I feel like if I can’t get the word out there, I know it will be a success because who wouldn’t want to use less chemicals and at the same time do better for the planet. So I think I always just had that strong drive and that passion and that purpose in me. And my only goal was to get the word. I would do anything to, to be able to spread the word. And so I think because you have that sort of energy, I didn’t feel the because you also don’t know where you can get to. But then looking back, I think like, gosh, I started off very slow.
Now you’re young and enthusiastic, and that’s also a bonus. How important do you think having a purpose is, you know, talked about three principles and you have a purpose for your business. How important is that? ? Keep your focus and energized towards your successes.
For me, I think it’s absolutely crucial because there are so many hobbies there’s so many days that you don’t have to sell that you need to cover because there’s so many days that things happen that you think like gosh, what, why am I doing that? But if your why is so strong inside, if you know that purpose drives you every single day, when I walk on the beach, every time we pick up trash, and then again I post about it on social media and that’s my every day I’m confronted with all the ways that you can find Everywhere with the chemicals you go to the supermarket, just the smells. You notice so many perfumes, which is very, very heavily loaded with chemicals too. So for me, I think the purpose is crucial because there’s so many hard days and I do want to bring this down because there’s so many amazing things about it which way overpower the hard days. But the hardest, if you have your purpose, that’s what really keeps you going, and just drives you every single day again. So the purpose is really important, and I think the part that I had missed in other companies too was a real transparency. And that’s why we still a donation program where people, when they check out, they can choose which company we donate our money to. And they can track on every single moment they can track how much money we donated yesterday last month in the past year. And I think even they’re like looking at the donations, we’ve done how many lives that we’ve impacted just by donating money. Like I can, I can get you by, you know, like I feel so proud then because I think I’m, I think I’m still quite small company compared to, you know, like all the big ones out there. And then for a small company like us to be able to do so many good in the world, just with the donations itself, like you know, it’s that drives you and the difficult days that purpose is just what keeps you going every single day.
That’s a beautiful thing. How important is your passion and your personality to repeat business, the things you talked about, your Instagram and Facebook messaging about products and how to use and purpose of the products. How important is that in getting your repeat
business? Yeah, I think it’s really important because that’s the feedback that we receive also through our customers on social media, then because we’re very interactive with them and a lot of people tell us like, Oh, you just make it look easy, you make it look happy, you know, we don’t say about, for example, Razer, we don’t say the whole time, like a billion disposable razors enter in landfill every day we say like, hang on, look at this, this is a reusable razor, it will be for the rest of your life. If you think about how many you’ve used in the past, think about how many you can save, you know, like if we take a positive approach and the happy you can do this approach. And I think it really resonates with people. But it’s also just who I am, I’m not, I’m a very big optimist. Like I’ll always see the good in people always try to good things and I believe in the good things too. And I think it’s crucial, absolutely crucial when you do videos that you have that you know, like that passion people can feel that I live every single day. And that means also when they have a question to me, I can easily reply because the products that we have and that I promote are products that I use every single day because I needed it. I needed a mouthwash that doesn’t come in Plastic and wood chemicals. I needed a razor that I didn’t want to dispose, so you know, like all these products is just what I love to. And that’s how I can bring across and help people understand how zero waste products can just be as good and even better, I would say, than your mainstream single use products.
Beautiful. Well, starting your business is tough for anybody, you know, and I’m asking these questions that I think could be relevant to everybody in everyday life. Because life is always difficult. We should have a purpose, regardless of what part of our life it is we should have purpose in our life and the reason and a thing to fall back on when things are a bit low. As to why we stay motivated, why we keep going. And our purpose in life could be our children, our families, or our community groups, our environmental practice, whatever it might be. You started with your pop up stores or your first pop up store in Caloundra, as I mentioned. And as you mentioned, have you had any permanent locations or have you thought about that? Where have you gone from that first pop up?
Yeah, we have a store in Caloundra on permanent store in Caloundra. And we had two small stores that we did together with a few other businesses. It’s more like a collaboration store, but that’s only temporary, that was only temporary. So the one that we have a fixed store is just the one in Caloundra. And then obviously our online store, which is for us, the biggest part of our business,
has the ambience or the location. And I am
actually really good. But I sometimes wonder if it’s because that’s when I started it. And people really, really welcomed me in the community. And they were so excited by it. I think this starts for me because most of that code to that store, do they just refill their products from us? So for us that store has been doing amazing. Really
amazing. Oh, that’s fantastic. What are some of the characteristics that someone needs that will help to help them perseverance, say, particularly during these past few years, the Titans been for you as well?
Yeah, I would definitely say fashion. I think passion is probably one of the most important because that will drive you whenever you know, like that’s, that’s even when you’re not working. You still look at the world different. Everywhere I am. Look at ways it’s just in me and that makes me also better at my business because I see pain points that I might otherwise not see. And I think that’s really because I’m so passionate about it. I see it Everywhere and I want to fix it. For example, when I had my pop up store, I could not get the location I wanted. The real estate company said no, the owner said no. So I wrote him a letter and I said, look, I’m a mum, I’m local, I have this specially for Toxin free products. I won’t do anything to your space, please let me just have two months. I’m sure you know, like it will be all fine. And then he called me back and he said, sure, that’s fine. So you know, at that moment it was a really crucial part in my journey. Because if I couldn’t have done that, so I had to figure out different ways to learn about the products to show it, to people. So for me that was a really big moment in my golfing zero journey that I was like at the moment. So he said no, to me, I was like, I’ve got a, I need it, I want it, I’ve got to find another way. So I think determination is really, really crucial. And then
in fact, don’t give up with no,
passionate and you believe in your cause. Keep trying.
Yeah, there’s 10 different ways to do it. You know, like if that way doesn’t work. Try again again, and if not, then There’ll be other ways to actually want to. Thank you. Well, look,
you talked about your online store being the most successful. What percentage of your business come from that? How much time do you have to invest on updating your website constantly? And I guess what are your top selling products?
Yeah, so, but I would say probably 95 percent of our sales is from online. So or one is doing really well. And the only reason it’s pretty much OK I guess because you can reach the whole of Australia while the store can only reach the local community. So definitely our online store. I think one of the pain points for a company that’s three years old, right? ? Is time I would say I do so many different things. We have someone full time marketing. We have someone full time operations, we have to packing all day, and then I do everything around that. It’s about reaching out to New collaborations that we can do. So there’s, there’s limited time and limited amount of people. So it’s funny when you say, how much time do you spend updating your website? I would say probably one percent of my time. It’s quickly changing something and that’s it. And it’s just because you don’t have the budget to put someone in there. And I know if I would, it would generate sales again, but you’re always catching up. I find when you grow, you always when you’re finally doing well financially, that’s where you’re so under no pressure would all the things you’re doing that you actually need a new staff. So then you’re like, you’re going back to, you know, blow and then you have to, you know, have to catch up again, whatever this new staff is doing. And so I feel I’m always playing catch up. So I think it’s a bit of hard, but because right now I think like, Oh we’re doing so well. It’s amazing, but then I know the packing is on there. A lot of pressure because we have so many orders. So actually we need someone else to pack now, so then again, it’s on your budget. So I think it’s just, I don’t know when this stops, to be honest. I’m not there yet some reason. And every time I have to add a staff or a certain system that we put in place every time there’s another budget that you have to allocate. And it just takes away from your profit as a business, obviously, to be able to grow.
A good problem to have on it is a problem because as you said, you then have to sell X amount of product to cover the cost of the new person that you need. Yeah, it’s a constant battle. Yes. Hopefully people can get behind new check website. Stop buying to give you more problems. Hopefully everybody can help you have more headaches. Oh, so what about your suppliers? That must be a constant workload as well. Trying to find new suppliers makes making sure that they’re providing the product to meet your expectations.
Yeah, exactly. So we have really strict We decide standards for our products, you know, they have to be as low Plastic as possible. We need refills. If it’s anything with a spray, we want to refill sprays can’t be recycled. So we need them to be able to reuse the ospreys over and over again. So we have very strict rules about things like that. And if we have come to the point now that supplies reach out to me and I said, okay, this is me. I’ve got this brand, I’d love you to check it out. I’m sending you a sample of right now. So we finally came to the level of business that people reach out to us to but it didn’t. It wasn’t like that, right? ? Like I was the very someone that no one ever heard of. And so I had email that was to look after the store and really convince them that we are the right partner for them. But now we also come to the point when, when suppliers reach out to us that we can really help. And we say like, Oh, what about your packaging? How do you ship it to us? You know, we don’t want any Plastic packaging to us because that’s a no go for it. So really, So help me if it’s not only the product, it’s about the labels that ship with. So there’s so much things that we have learned as a business that we can help our suppliers now also do better. And I think we have a really big sheet whenever we on board a supplier. It’s about all the representations it’s about. Can people have it when they’re breastfeeding and they have when they’re pregnant? Is it OK for newborns? So we have a whole checklist that we put our supplies through before we can really take them on and then that we are sure that we’re providing our customers with the right products and the right information to. And I think we have about, we have over 100 Australian brands now, so we have about 1200 products in total. Yeah. And they’re from all 100 Aussie families that we saw to
be a lot of weight, very comprehensive checklist that you have to go through all that because there are so many preservatives and chemicals in far more than we could ever imagine that they should be in. Yeah, and you do wonder how is this possible, what the heck is going on? What are we putting into our bodies?
Yeah, and I had for example, someone reach out to me who wants to make toilet bombs. So that’s like the cleaner toilet. And they said like, Oh, where do I look? Who do I have to write if this is a safe product? And I said like, no one everyone can just launch their product. If I said I want to launch a skincare tomorrow, I can just make it and launch it. Like there’s no double checks, there’s no, you know like this. And that is the hard part. I think that’s why customers come to us because they know we check it. I check every single ingredient against the it’s called ewg group. So it’s a really, it’s a group that has done extensive research about chemicals and how they react to our bodies. And they give a rating to it. So I always check with them how it’s rated, and then we decide to take it on or not. But it’s a big job. It is an absolutely big job too. Every time check every single product. But again, if you’re passionate, I get so excited when I get a new brand on and I look at the ingredients and I’m testing the creams. And I just, I don’t know, and I talk on social media, I tell them that I’m trying this brand, I’m doing. I have a gel cleanser that I’m looking at. Would you be interested in having something like that? So people, I get a feel of what they are after too. So I think our customers really along the journey of the whole business. What are we doing some meetings that we do? I tell them about some strategies that we’re looking at. So it’s really, we take our customers so much behind the scenes that it also shows who we are so that they know they can trust what we do.
Yeah, that’s fantastic. And they go on the journey with you and being part of your passion and your cause. So what are some of the top selling products as a novice or someone who hasn’t been on your website or bought from your products? What sells the most?
I’ll maybe I’ll take you to the three bestsellers maybe in the store. So one one is a reusable baking mat. So you know, you’re baking paper that you use at home. Yes, it’s not recyclable. So it’s not because it’s called paper that you can recycle because it gets really dirty. They can split the wax from the paper, so it goes always in landfill. So we have this mat which is called a reusable baking mat, which will last for years and years. And it’s a Silicon mat. And you just use that, you use that you put your whatever you put in the oven, put it on there, and then you wash it afterwards, wash it off, and you reuse it. So does zero waste to the product involved. So that’s been our best seller, probably since the last six months. Maybe since we launched it, it’s been absolutely loved by our customers. So I would say that is one. The second one is a dish and laundry block. So it’s, you know, like when you have your Dish liquid, it comes in like a Plastic bottle that you squirt out all your laundry products. So common Plastic bottles, so or additional laundry block is one block. It’s like a big cellblock, as you can say. And you can just rub your brush on it and do dishes with it. So it forms up or you can grind it and use the grated soap in your laundry and wash your clothes with it.
Same as the laundry detergent.
Yeah, exactly. And the zero waste because it comes in a cardboard box that is compostable and recyclable and it’s Australian made. It’s a zero waste. It has zero chemicals in it. And
effective Super. Yeah. Seriously. We have so many reviews on online from it. It just works and I think my mother in law, she uses it obviously, but she says I used to remember grading soap for my mum for her laundry. So actually the products are not new. The products are just, we moved to this convenience of Plastic because we like squirting a bottle instead of grabbing a brush and rubbing it on a block. And I think it’s just what people used to do, but we have this two or three generations where we’ve been using so much Plastic. And now we’re actually just going back to what was done before. And all this before, all this waste happened.
What are the price? We pay the price for convenience with all these chemicals that preservatives or, and plastics can make life easier or quicker. But we surprised, surprised ultimately.
Yes, absolutely. And I think that’s where people people really understand this more and more. And I think the hard part for many people is still actually where do I start? Where do I start my journey to reduce my ways to reduce my toxins. So that’s why we often talk about it also on our social media. Like, what are the first steps you can do to reduce your waste? We help them to look at the ingredient label, we offer them the alternative. So I think in the like you say, we pay the price for convenience and I think a
more people and customers realize that and we are that face, I think also with everything that’s been happening in the world. To be honest. Yeah,
I think so. So item number three, but then I want to ask you how can people emailed you or can I go online and ask you questions about some certain type, you know, I want to do this. So what products could I use, or can I easily search that on your website? So first question was, what’s your third product? And then how do people find the products they’re looking for?
Yeah, so the third one is toothpaste
toothpaste. Yes. So
yeah, well no, actually not the tablet that we have, but the paste comes in like lost out in the middle it and it has no chemicals because a lot of toothpaste has something that’s called isolés. So it’s a foaming agent. So when you brush your teeth, it comes up a lot, but some very harsh chemicals, so yeah, so we don’t have anything with that in there.
So what do they do to? How do you get the toothpaste out of the jar?
Yeah, so you can just have it all with a little spool or if it’s just your job, if you don’t share it, you can just drop your toothbrush in it and scoop it on. And then you brush and it forms a little bit, but it does not form like the toothpaste that we get at home. But then again, if you want it to fall, it’s fine. But then you have the chemical in it that makes it foam. So it’s really like once you know, then you’re fine, probably with your toothpaste, not foam as much, you know, but you have to learn and understand why it’s not as good for you before you really are happy to make the swap. I would say with toothpaste,
I think sometimes we falsely believe something is there to make it healthier, like it’s good to find them and if it doesn’t foam, it’s not healthy. Or if our soap doesn’t foam, then it’s clearly not doing the job. Yeah. But it’s not necessarily the case.
No, absolutely not. No
pill already. So all of you want to get something for the bath or want to buy something to clean the car away. How do I find it so
hard? Yeah. So we have our online website, which is Go For Zero, it’s called dot com today, you know, and they have all the categories, so you can look at kitchen, you can look at what do you want to replace you find on there. But also I would definitely say, or social media, have a look because every day we explain alternatives for your everyday products. So social media is go for Go For Zero.
Facebook and Instagram.
Exactly. Yeah. And always on there we have a check box. Our losses always on there talking to us most helping them out. And we were very, you know, it’s been an online store, but we a very personal company. So there’s someone behind them replying, but it’s not, you know, like, it’s not a robot talking to you. It’s really us at the warehouse even discussing options. Someone says I’ve got a really bad smell what product is best. So we’re often, they’re just saying like, Oh, I would advise the magic market. I had so many customers replied to me about this, so I feel we really were a little community at the White House and we just trying to help people absolutely love the product that they have.
What are some of the major challenges you faced in developing your brand and you may have covered some its software readily, but what are the key things that are really challenging?
I think one of the hardest things for me personally, is because even though we only support Australian owned brands, not everything is Australian made everything that can be Australian made is Australian made. But for example, Silicon, we don’t have the production facility in Australia. So that’s something that is made overseas, so it’s still an Australian family that founded it and has the it and sells it. But a few products are not Australian made and the sort of Silicon bamboo and stainless steel are the main ones that we can’t find a production site in Australia for. And I think I sometimes find that hard because I wish it was all Australian made we applied for a grant that we’re still waiting for to have a Silicon product made in Australia to just get that started. Just try it. You know, like give it a try and see if it works. Yeah. But it does come with a higher cost and then so it’s that tradeoff people want to have it Australian made. But then also still want the price of having it made overseas. So not everyone’s like that, but quite a lot of people are like, well that’s too expensive. So then if it’s made overseas, it’s cheaper, but then they don’t want, you know, like it’s the balance. I find that really hard sometimes
Well and that our producer, she is a bit grainy when it comes to not using Plastic, haven’t seen clad wrap or anything like that for a number of years in our household. Now I call them I think they, the silicone wraps. We are on the green aliens. Yeah. Green. And always hanging out drying. Somewhere around the place. Yes, I’m sure she’ll be smiling to herself. Listening in right now in the background. I have to ask what’s greenwashing and why is it a big issue for us?
Yeah, so I have to actually say when I came to Australia, there’s this brand that’s really stuck to me. It’s called organic and I think it’s from Coles or woolies. So people just say organic. So when you go to the supermarket, you think like, Oh yeah, that must be a great product, right? ? It says organic care. But then you look at the product and there might be one organic product and which might have been even the, the one with the least amount. And so there’s, there’s just no regulation. But you can say, natural, you can say organic, you can say Eco, you can say, well, it’s still in Plastic, you know, maybe it has no chemicals, but it’s Plastic. So people say, Oh, I’m an Eco store, but they still sell 70 percent. Plastic products, you know, like, and there’s no regulations about that. And I think it’s really hard as a customer to to see through that. And you, it’s, you a can, to be honest, because if you don’t research ingredients and all that time and spend all the time, like we do, like who goes to the supermarket and read through all the ingredients and looks on the phone. Because often you can’t even pronounce them, so you’ve got to start to type it in to understand what it even means. And I think there’s so much liquid that we lack a lot of regulations to be honest from the government. And people just say whatever they want on their product, and then I call it organic. And I came home and I had like one organic ingredients in it. And I thought like all men even got me Yeah. And I wasn’t like that. And so I think that was really when I moved here, like Oh wow, that is just you get food, you get food, but you don’t know that you get well then that’s probably hard about it.
Well, everybody’s busy. You don’t want to read all the fine print. When you get old like me, you probably can’t see those words in you. Do you don’t to the OK, well that’s better for me or that’s better for the environment. The person is not food is our youngest son. He reads everything, he’s not into any form of Toxin or chemical,
but I know
you guys won’t even drink tap water because it’s got PlayReady brings in special water. It’s not known, it’s not alkaline or whatever it is. I don’t know, but anyway,
he will love a store. Well, absolutely. I’ve already thought I’ve got
a holiday. Could be a best customer. I can take away something. You’re very passionate about raising awareness of it and eliminating it cause the amount of chemicals and waste found in households with Toxin free, low waste, Australian products as you’ve talked about, how do you go about raising that awareness and education?
Yeah, I would say because we’re an online store with the products, but I think we’re equally an online store with products as an indication channel. I think it’s when I say I allocate customers on social media about the product. Half of my time I’m talking about how to recycle a bag of chips because that’s of Plastic. So should you go into your recycling bin that your receipt that looks like paper, but it’s not paper, it’s somewhat purple, so it goes through the waste bin. Now things like that, I think the way we talk to our customers, it’s all about educating, but I learned so much. So every single day I get questions about how do I recycle this? And I think like, Oh, even I don’t use it. But that doesn’t mean a lot of older people don’t use it, so I do all the research and then I just bring it back to the customers. And if I don’t know, I just do a poll on Instagram and I ask him and then I just posted so every one can read about it. So social media is the biggest one, but also emails. If you subscribe to our newsletter, then every week you will get an email about a product which explains a product sometimes has a deal in it. But on every Friday we have our happy Friday email and it’s like I said to you, we’re so passionate. And we feel like we can absolutely change the world still, we can still do our part. So every Friday we send out an email with two amazing stories that happened around the world. For example, someone is making a fertilizer out of batteries now. So think low bed like little stories that we can find around the world that really are changing your mindset and are helping us to really believe that we can still change or have a really positive impact on the world. So email is a really big channel for us to
Well, we’ve got one little tip and that is, we don’t ask for receipts on and we purchase stuff. So that’s a good way to just reduce a little bit of paper. A lot of times, my only little tip is if you think of something that you may need to return, probably a good idea to get a receipt, then these are you coffee. You’re probably not going to return. If they did know anything, you think there’s a big ticket item that you may need to return and get that otherwise you don’t need the receipt? No, no, it’s the paper describing little things that we can do.
Yeah. And for example, in the warehouse we’ve never printed packaging slips and anything we are almost paper free in the warehouse. I think this, I haven’t used a printer forever, and I don’t even know if it’s still going. But, you know, there’s ways to know that if you just don’t do it anymore, you know, like this. I think a lot is changing a lot of it’s more digital, so it is definitely, I think, paper waste, which is a big one. You can reduce that work by not printing just everything. You don’t need to file everything anymore on paper. You can file it on your computer now and just save it somewhere. Instead of printing things out, there’s little things that you can do in your everyday life. To just reduce your waste without going, you know, like and do crazy big things.
And then all of digital software, software and software programs that will allow you to try to copy or Yes or whatever it is, rather than printing out and giving to someone. I think I know the answer to this question already, but how important are 100-percent? Toxin free, sustainably packaged products?
Yeah, I would say obviously you ask me, so I’ll be like, all right, it’s going forward. Don’t you have to, you have to change. It’s just like the, there’s little changes that we just can make and these days there’s so many alternatives out there now for even just a toothbrush use a bamboo, toothbrush, it doesn’t make a big difference in our life. And like I find once you start with a product even like sunscreen, for example, once you start with a product and you see how it works and you love it and you realize hang on. That actually goes easy, get you a good feeling that you’re not using Plastic and chemicals on you. It’s just your brain gets going and you think like, Oh, what might be my next swallow. But I think just for a body is like the way chemical interfere with us just for the way the world, how we leave the world behind. You know, like I think about my kids. I think like I want to give them the world that our generation started to clean up. I hope one day that they will say like, that’s crazy. You drink water out of Plastic bottles. You know, I hope that they will be like that. Like, what were they thinking Seriously? So I think that it’s really all changing and that we’re really going back to a more sustainable world. But there’s, there’s just, there’s a lot to do still, and a lot of educating still to do, which is fun. I think there’s a lot of people jumping on board, showing the growth of the company. We can see people want this. People want to change. They don’t always just know how.
Maybe There’ll be a machine that you can put your toys in to press the button and we’ll fill up your meal bottle with your reusable bottle and start punching out a 600 real Plastic bottle. Yeah, exactly. It’s a free tip for anybody who wants social enterprise product. So there are so many things that we can do and when you think of all the products you’ve talked about, that we use that probably go all the guy I went to the recycle book. Don’t actually get recycled. It’s scary and that we could save if everybody reduced by 10 percent right now.
And that’s it. And that’s it. Because people often think, Oh it’s just one Plastic bottle is just once, but like eight billion people. If we think that just once that’s like eight billion Plastic bottles, you know, like we think sometimes that we or one, one piece will not make the difference. But so many people think that way. So that’s why change so hard because we think like, Oh it’s OK, it’s just fun. But it’s not just fun because if we all think that and it’s, you know, like, it’s for everyone. One which is a lot.
Can you imagine how much time you’ll save walking on the beach, not having to pick up rubbish. Not all of us take the challenge is to reduce trying to think about reducing 10 percent of our waste.
Yeah. Oh man, that would be amazing. It would be a huge impact, and it’s funny that you say about the beach because I say sometimes with my husband because we both do it. We like puppets like one talking and then you look, you look aside and he’s gone like he’s, he’s trying to pick up something that he found to be he has to dig deeper and then I go down, you know, like it’s just these two opens up and down Oh conversations on when we do a walk,
can you tell us a bit about your time at Gateshead? Zero who are they? How many staff do you have now and are they all passionate about you?
Yeah, I have to like touch wood, but I’ve been absolutely blessed with my team. They are so passionate are so on board with the vision that I have for this company. When we talk about or strategies, we don’t talk about money, we talk about how many families have started to come to us, how many new families joined us and had done their first order. That’s what really makes us excited. If it’s a $20 order or $100 order, like it makes a difference for the business. But for us like deep inside, we had a, someone started it and I love looking at orders like on a Monday morning, I walked around when they’ve put it all out and I just think like, wow, so many people are reducing, for example, that could be stoked that they’re cleaning products and so on. So I feel the team that we have they just get it. They’re here for because they also want to make a change and they feel that passion and I can see their work so extremely hard. Because they also want to achieve what I want to achieve. So I think our vision and our purpose just we live and breathe it in the White House. We have no like real ways been anymore because we all bring our lunches and our lunch boxes in our stainless steel lunch boxes. We would even comment on each other, you know, and someone brings something Plastic that like we can make your pesto, you know? So I bring pesto because I get I got it from the market and I got a lot of greens and I made it quick so we don’t have to buy, you know, like so this little thing is that every day I feel we just the team leaves and braided, but also I have to say, I only hire through social media anymore because it’s, this generation is on social media. And that means if they are already followers or they started on the journey or interested in it, like there’s already something that they have aligned with us. So when we have a new position available, I only do it through social media anymore because I know that they’re already following us for whatever reason that is
fantastic. Ellie, how do you get involved with the environmental industry? ? I suppose in terms of educating and understanding the problem.
Yeah. So we can see that our customers, so many people find it hard to know how to recycle, which we touched on before. So for example, I went to a landfill site and I had a call about what I could see how the machines work like so for example, if you put your waste in a Plastic bean bag, the machines is so that goes straight to landfill. So it’s all little things that I could see on the machines on how they all work separately. So I just take that book and then Smith on that. And for example, we also, we are a partner with enviro bank. So it’s when you bring your cans back where you get your turns, when you reach enough points, you can get a $50 voucher from Go For Zero. So it’s really that positive reinforcements if you recycle right, you can get a benefit from it. So I think the way that we educate and how I learn myself is really to cut a rope and listen to these communities. What is the pain point of the customers? ? And then really reach out to or recyclers here that I need at the sunshine coast and see how can we teach everyone how this works like really visually show the machines, for example, like cardboard just floats on it, while glass will fall through. So there’s different machines that really sort it, but I had never seen it so it was really I knew it, but I’ve never seen it. So even for me it was really eye opening, looking at landfills like being there. I just thought it was mind blowing. You have these machines digging full of birds on there, you know like things that you don’t expect to see, but it was full, full, full of birds machines coming through just dumping all that stuff in like it just gave me a real hard killer look awful. That’s, that’s very front, you know, we don’t even put it in our own inner landfill bin. And that said, it disappears in our head. But let’s see where it ends up. It is really confronting,
and I said, probably only about 12 percent on average. Actually can get properly recycled, so that’s a lot of landfill.
Yeah. What we also do is we have our own recycling program at the warehouse, so we partner up with TerraCycle. So that means for example, people send us the blister packs, they send us the branded tags, they send us their old razors. So all items that cannot be recycled through the normal recycling program, they can send to us. And we partner Rob for example, the limits of your milk bottle. We partner up with lids for kids, so they make more mobility aid out of these lids. For kids, the bread tags they, they raise funds for wheelchairs for these people actually that can’t afford to buy a wheelchair. So what they do with the bread tags, they mold them all into Plastic, they make products from it, and then they sell these products and the proceeds of that go to buying wheelchairs. So there’s so many ways that we can still recycle, but it’s very hard true or you know, or government programs. So all we have a link on the website to it, to recycle. So it’s all the products that we accept that you can send to us and that we make sure that they do get recycled instead of land up and up in landfill
and state. Well, that’s such great add ons really taking it to the full level of commitment. So congratulations. Congratulations. Also close. You were a Telstra award finalist for Queensland for promoting sustainability for some. Yes, that’s brilliant. You must have been a thrill for you. Mm-Hmm.
It was a really big process. Every round I got through, I was like, whoa, we made it through this and then it was like, Oh this is so much work.
Well, I can assure everybody that our award programs aren’t quite so much work that must have been a real thrill. And such a validation of your work to be chosen as a finalist, then go on to win the coin. Small business achievement award in the quisling community achievement Awards.
And it’s amazing every time when we apply for an award, because of many small businesses that listen to this would know it is quite a time, an investment still and still, you know, we have quite a lot to do for it and you never know how it returns, but I think it is always worth doing it because I also find you really learn how to structure your words. Sometimes write certain things down that you say, well, we’ve really done that Well, you know, sometimes it’s makes you sit down and look at you company again from a helicopter view. Yes. We’ve done so well. We had to update, for example, the donations we did. And we, for example, provided around nine thousand meals for Australians in need. Wow. Just by doing the process I was like, Oh wow, I hadn’t looked at it for a while and it’s just, you know, like so it also makes you really look back at your company and all your processes, how you do things and it makes you proud. So I think it’s always worth doing, but it is a bit of time investment I would say
has your reward helped to promote Go For Zero or increase credibility at all?
Yes, I would say it always does. To be honest. I think for customers, it just shows that what you say is also true because it can, any company can say whatever they want. And to be honest, the social enterprise, you wouldn’t, but still you would, the customers don’t always know. So I think an award just gives you that extra credibility that people are like, Oh yeah, you know, they won this so they’re probably, you know, they’re probably doing a pretty good job. And I think that just helps with how customers look at your company. And I think also it’s a small win for your team, right? Like it’s because it’s not about me, it’s about the whole team. It’s about the whole company, it’s about our customers, and it’s just a moment to stop and be proud. Yeah.
What advice can you offer for aspiring social entrepreneurs?
I would bring it back to passion. If there’s anything that you can see that you can do out there. And you are willing to really put yourself that. Talk to people about it and give it a go like do it like it’s so on top of people’s mind. No, there’s no better time to launch something like this. I launched it three years ago and people are like no. Yeah, interesting, cool. But you know, that’s not what everyone was thinking about now it’s, it’s so much easier to talk about these things because people are way more aware. So I would say, if there’s anything that you can do good, like if it’s environmental or social, people will back you up if you have the right mindset. And if it’s really, it comes from your heart and customers people around, you will see that you live and breathe it and there will support you talk about you and will help you become successful.
It takes time to grow. So yes, I shouldn’t stay true to your passion.
Be patient. Absolutely.
All of it. I like all of us. She must to the daily pressure from time to time. How do you stay motivated and keep energized?
So I actually because I have two little girls, I get up every day at four and I would say in winter that’s hotter than in summer. Yeah. But it’s, it’s something I have set in my mind to. I’ve got my routine and everything that’s I’m in the morning sometimes when I don’t feel like getting up. I just, I just think about what I am doing that day and it just because the deeper purpose is running through everything I do, I can, I do get a rather easy in the mornings and I’m, I’m excited. I see all these opportunities. I wish I won the lottery, you know, like, there’s so many things I would want to achieve with this business. There’s so many things we can do with this business, but there’s always something that we have to keep in mind, obviously stuff and time. So I think because there’s so much we can do and it’s such a positive vibe about the business. I find it really easy to stay positive and even with a hard day, sometimes I have a cry and that’s fun. You know, it’s fun. When doing the right thing in the world, we’re doing the right thing for people for our planet and we’re good. We can go again. For example, I lost a $10000 shipment of a certain product. While I cried, I totally cried. I was so sad. I was sad for the money. I was sad for the waste of the product because I could not do anything with it anymore because it was molded in traffic and when it was shipped to us. So on moments like that, you really think like men. But that’s the person, again, if you’re passionate, you’ll be like you pick yourself up and you’re like not. That’s just one of these things. We got to keep going, the lose money will, will the cry helped, I guess. And then move on.
Yeah it’s, it’s interesting people often say to me, wow, what a fun business you’ve got. You get to go to dinners, sit there and have food and chat. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And even it
and I think also I think we often that’s the things we only talk about and I’m very careful with it also on social media that I also talk about it, things that don’t work like that. When that happened. I showed everyone, I said look, look what a waste we created, to be honest, you know, like it’s against everything we do and that happened. And you know, but it’s good for us was to also see that it’s not to be honest, running a business is not easy. It looks like you can just indeed have an online store and the money come, it’s nothing like that. So I think people have to know that this, there is a lot of investment, but then again, if you love what you do, that’s what you want to do. You want to put time into it. You want to talk to, I want to talk to customers. I’m excited when I get all these questions on Instagram, on how do you replace a blade? Do you, do you cut yourself with a reusable razor? ? So I can do stories about it because I know people are thinking about it. So it means they’re keen to make a change, but they don’t, they’re not 100 percent. Sure. So I know I can really make a difference in their life. So it just gets me so excited and I think the motivation just really comes from within. I think if you’re thinking about a business to make money, I don’t know if it will really last. If you think about a business that you’re really passionate about, you will lust, you know, like you were lost and that determination will hang around and it will work just just go.
That’s great advice for everybody. I think. Are there any exciting advancements or expansions took out of the agency right in the coming months or years?
Yes, absolutely. Know so many. Even now Obviously products we just launched are Australian made a T-shirt. We showed the whole process how it’s printed in Australia, how it’s sewn in Australia. So we have a few products that we are launching this year, but we’re also launching an app so its store will become an app. So it’s way easier to look on your phone and to find certain alternatives. That’s a really big one for us. Yeah. Then I would definitely say a B Corp. So we are applying to become a B Corp, which is, you know, it’s all about businesses that are have a purpose over profit. Yes. And to be honest, when I launch this off zero, I had emailed them because I knew I wanted to have my business set up as a B Corp. And I launched everything to have that system in place and all these requirements in place. But then also took off, and I just haven’t had any time to look at it and it’s something that always has been eating away at me. I really want to be a B Corp. And so this year we said like whatever happens, like busy or not, it’s going to be a priority because we are absolutely a B Corp already. We just don’t have the certification. So that’s a big one for us to become a coach.
Fantastic. So what’s next for Ellie personally ,it will Be on the spot.
Yeah, absolutely. I want to move more into making videos so not only having them on social media, but have them on every product page to have on YouTube. So it’s very easy for people to access, so they don’t always have to follow us on social media. So that is a really big one for us to do. And I am looking at growth like for me, the sky’s the limit. I just, I really want every household to stop making one simple change, even if it’s not with a product from us. Just to learn about it, learn to recycle better. And I really am for that we just want to grow and it’s not because again, we’re not looking at finance because it comes with it. But it’s really the purpose for us. It’s really like people can make one change and that will just kick off the journey and we can do so much good in this world. We’d Go For Zero. And this year is absolutely, we’re looking at how much more can we impact?
Yeah. Right, so Franco. So where can we find out more about go to zero and make purchases of your beautiful products. And now you’ve told us already, but tell us again
Yeah, definitely on our website. So at Go For Zero dot com today. You and I would definitely advise to have a look at social media too, which is go four zero on the school year. So that’s where you find us and you can text those. You can email us through any of these places. So you’ll always get an honest personal answer.
Fantastic. Ellie, it’s been a real pleasure talking with you and to find out more about go four, zero, a really worthy company. And so many amazing products. You’re a true community champion that makes a real difference in the community and for our environment. Thank you so much and thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. It’s been a real honor and a pleasure.
Same for me, Geoff, thank you so much for having me.
I hope your business thrives for your sake, but also for the sake of every family that takes gopher zero products into their home and for our planet as well. For the waste reduction that we can make by using your products, but also equally and probably more importantly how we’re educated on doing our little bit. I hope everyone has enjoyed the chat with Ellie today and to learn more about the difference. Go to zero. I was making before we close a little plug for our Awards, Australia membership program for only $50, you can become an annual member to become part of our team to help fund prize grants for all of our award winners until next week. Take care, be kind and keep inspiring. I hope you enjoyed today’s interview as much as I have. It’s lovely to subscribe to our podcast that you won’t miss an episode. Join us each week as we talk with ordinary Australians. Achieving extraordinary things. Did you know that Awards Australia is a family owned business that probably makes a difference in the lives of those make a difference for others? And we thank our corporate not-for-profit partners to making our award programs possible. Do you know someone that’s making a difference or maybe your business might like to sponsor an award? Contact us throughout Instagram page. Inspirational dot Australians will head to our website. Awards Australia dot com. Would be great if you could share the site with your network. Because who doesn’t like to click news story, and please write and reviews. We would really love to hear your thoughts until next week. Stay safe. And remember together we make a difference.
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