Making convenience a priority - and a commitment to doing the right thing for the environment - has helped this purpose-led hygiene care brand soar to success.
Prisca Ongonga-Daehn’s tips for running a sustainable business:
People want you to make sustainability and environmental options to be easy for them. As management, we always ask, “What do we have to do to make it a no-brainer solution?”
It's okay not to have all the answers straight away.
Consumers are smarter and more informed than ever. Be honest and do the right thing.
As a three-time start-up founder Prisca Ongonga-Daehn is no stranger to making quick decisions.
So, when a conversation around the family dinner table turned to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world – Ongonga-Daehn immediately started thinking of ways to take action around climate change.
Over the next few weeks, her family started making positive changes around their home and improve their impact on the environment, from switching from clingfilm to beeswax wraps in the kitchen to being diligent about recycling and food waste.
But when Ongonga-Daehn turned her attention to the bathroom, she realised that the only reusable alternative to buying single-use hand soap that she could not recycle involved driving to a refill station in Melbourne, which wasn't only inconvenient, but also consumes energy that could be better spent elsewhere and a demanded addition to her carbon footprint.
“It’s not convenient for me to drive into Melbourne all the time to go to the refilling station and I don’t have space to keep litres of hand soap stored away.”
“I thought, ‘This is crazy! There are so many sustainability solutions ready for the kitchen and nothing really for the bathroom where we wash our hands and bodies every day?’”.
So ensued a two-year journey of researching sustainability, environmental and green business solutions that would have a minimal climate impact, reduce waste, recycle, and offer a genuinely helpful solution in the form of an eco-friendly company with management who believed in its ethos.
The result? The company's first green product launched in November 2020: a waterless plant-based handwash powder concentrate delivered in a certified home-compostable sachet that is environmentally sound and climate-friendly and designed with sustainability in mind.
Made sustainably in Australia to reduce carbon emissions, the eco-friendly sachets are delivered us carbon-offset shipping to reduce environmental impact and the industry's often heavy carbon footprint. All users have to do is add one of the environmentally green sachets to 300ml of water and voila! A sustainable foaming handwash perfect for your family, the environment and your skin is created.
The product was an instant sell-out, leading to the company's recent expansion into body wash, with plans to launch a shampoo and conditioner this year.
Since the launch of her sustainable business, Ongonga-Daehn has had time to reflect on what makes a successful climate-conscious brand.
Her conclusion? Convenience is key for sustainable brands that want to succeed in the sustainability industry. In an increasingly busy world where more and more people are thinking about climate change and searching for reusable and environmental products for homes that they can recycle, engaging with technology and doing resource research is key.
The secret to convincing consumers to try a new product – particularly one that is sustainable – is to make the experience as convenient and simple as possible, says Ongonga-Daehn.
“What do we have to do to make it a no-brainer solution?”
When it comes to designing products, the question Ongonga-Daehn always asks her team is “What do we have to do to make it a no-brainer solution? That’s our challenge.”
As an online-only, direct-to-consumer business which delivers its products straight to consumers' doors, baresop. is already a convenient sustainability option for consumers wanting to buy environmentally designed toiletries that improve their skin and reduce waste at the same time. But the brand takes this one step further by leading with clever technology options like their subscription service option which ensures sachets arrive every few months without customers having to remember.
“We have thought about the entire lifecycle of our product,” explains Ongonga-Daehn, who introduced home compostable packaging which allows customers to add the sachet packets to their home compost or green waste bin.
“One of the biggest challenges of running a sustainable business is that people will compare the price of your product to a product that has been produced off-shore in massive quantities, using really harsh, cheap, chemicals or unethical practices,” says Ongonga-Daehn.
One way baresop. combats this and makes its green products more accessible is by offering Afterpay. “We are seeing a lot of our customers use Afterpay, especially post-peak pandemic when most people have had their income compromised to some level” notes Prisca, who says that offering Afterpay means that her customers do not have to choose between price and planet.
Aside from offering a customer-centric approach that’s as convenient as possible, Ongonga-Daehn says the other crucial aspect of running a successful sustainable brand is authenticity.
"Your ‘why’ has to be substantive and true."
“As a founder, it's so important to me that we are doing real things that are impacting people's lives and championing change in an authentic way, and not just for PR.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from starting baresop. is that if you're doing something purely because you can see the dollar amount, or you want to buy a bigger house or a flashy car, don’t do it. Please. Because it’s not enough to get you through the hardships that come with starting a business. This is my third business and it’s harder every single time, so if money is your core driver you’re going to burn out. Your ‘why’ has to be substantive and true.”
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