Yay! It’s Q&A day!
We’ve got something a little different for you beauties this week – so far we have spoken to all sorts of makers, shakers and creators, but this is our first time featuring a brand of this kind!
Read on for our chat with fabulous Jenni – the face behind The Sustainable Way, and creator of wonderful eco, plastic-free products, which provide a fabulous natural alternative to household favourites such as lip-balm, hand soap and facewash.
JANEY: Hi Jenni! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! So let’s start from the beginning – do you come from a creative background?
JENNI: I have always enjoyed crafts as a hobby, but never in a million years did I think I would set up my own business. I have a background in science, and soap-making is really just a large-scale chemistry experiment. I find it so fascinating how you can turn a range of oils and fragrances into a solid bar of soap. I started out with some fundamental sustainable principles, and then developed my products based around them. I wanted everything to be completely natural from the outset, so I only use essential oils, and plant/earth-based materials. It took 18 months to develop my business model and finalise my recipes, then I officially launched in October 2019.
JA: That’s brilliant, and it has clearly paid off to take that time to perfect your products! What would you say is your biggest achievement as a business owner so far?
JE: When I reached 1500 sales on Etsy. There are over 500k UK sellers on Etsy so it can be very difficult to breakthrough on that platform. I am very proud of having over 300 5* reviews on there. As a small business owner, it means the world when people take the time to recommend your products to other people.
JA: I could not agree more! (A side note to anyone reading this: if you have made a purchase from a small business owner, and been impressed by the service and what you received, please please take the time to leave them a lovely review, it helps the sellers out massively, so go and spread some joy!)
So as a brand, sustainability is clearly super important to you: how do you ensure that your products, packaging and processes are eco-friendly?
JE: To begin with, all my products are plastic-free, and packaging is either compostable and/or recyclable. A great example of this are my vegan lip balms – instead of a plastic tube, the container is made from cardboard where you push up a disk at the base to reveal the balm, then the whole thing can go in the compost when it’s finished. All my ingredients are sourced as ethically as possible, and everything is vegan and cruelty-free. When I have soap that doesn’t meet my high standards, I sell these as “wonky soap” [shop here!] at a heavily discounted price, so that I can keep my business as low waste as possible. Sustainability is very important to me personally, so I put a lot of time and energy into making my business fit in with my ethical and environmental standards.
JA: That is great – such small, simple steps go towards making a huge difference! And what tips would you give to anyone looking to make more sustainable choices?
JE: Start small. Take it one step at a time. All my products are intended to be simple swaps that people can make that won’t interrupt their usual routines. Changing from liquid hand soap to bar soap will save a huge amount of plastic from landfill. Always carry a refillable water bottle, there is a great app called Refill which will show you all the places in your area that have water re-filling stations. Make use of reusable sustainable products such as bamboo straws, natural dish loofahs, or “unpaper” kitchen towels. Be mindful that the fashion industry is one of the worst polluters on the planet. Try buying second-hand clothes or avoid purchasing clothes made from synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester, as these leach micro-plastics into the waterways.
Utilise the plastic that you already have in your house. Most people are not aware that plastic cannot be infinitely recycled; typically, they can only go through one or two recycling phases before it will end up in a landfill. I make my own household cleaner using white vinegar and water, that I pour into an old spray bottle, this works out cheaper than shop bought cleaners, and you will be spraying fewer chemicals around your house. Then you can start being more experimental, try making your own spread, nut milk, laundry powder or dishwashing tablets. There is a wealth of information and recipes that can be found online, I have also provided some “how-to” posts on my Instagram page. Some may find making their own a step to far, and that is ok – work out what is best for you, while keeping mindful of the end goal – a more sustainable lifestyle.
JA: Baby steps right? As you say, such tiny, easy changes can be made in your everyday life in order to work towards making a big difference.
I’m a huge fan of essential oils myself, so that is one thing that really attracted me to your products. If you absolutely had to choose, what would be your favourite essential oil and why?
JE: Spearmint (mentha spicata) essential oil is my current favourite. It requires minimal care to grow, and can be sourced from Europe, giving it a lower carbon footprint. When I am at markets, I find this scent produces the same reaction as marmite – people either love it or they hate it! I find it so refreshing, and uplifting. I add kaolin clay to my spearmint soap bars, which gives a lovely “slip” when washing your hands and body, and helps lock in moisture.
JA: Spearmint is a solid choice! I’m a big lavender and chamomile devotee! So I think we are well and truly sold – where can we get our mitts on your handiwork?
JE: Shop online at TheSustainableWay.etsy.com, or in store at:
The Collective – Caversham
Frangipani Home – Caversham
Artisans Handmade -The Oracle, Reading
All Our Own Crafts – Festival Place, Basingstoke
You can also find The Sustainable Way at various markets (COVID restrictions permitting) around Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire. For more information about where I will be, please follow me on Instagram @The.Sustainable.Way
JA: Well you heard the lady – go and give her a lil follow to keep up to date on events, or if you’re not local, you can shop online through Etsy! The hardest part will be choosing which scent to go for!
Jenni’s products look an absolute feast (pls do not eat these…) and living sustainably never smelled so good!
I hope you have a lovely weekend; thank you so much for being here, and see you next week for another addition to the Creative Q&A series!