They couldn’t find a nappy that was truly eco – so they designed their own
When Lisa and Lachlan Laing welcomed their third child into the world they tried to find a truly environmentally friendly, disposable nappy for her. “We were really frustrated by the lack of options,” Lisa reveals. “Lachlan decided to do some research into how to make the nappy that we wanted, that was truly eco, but also similarly priced to the supermarket brands.”
After two years of research they developed three prototypes, and then settled on one to bring to market. The next step was to determine if there would be any demand.
“Just because we liked it, didn’t mean anybody wanted it,” Lisa explains. “We needed to prove the concept so we took stands at baby shows across Australia, and talked to mums about what they wanted, what price and what was important. We ended up pre-selling a 40ft container of nappies before we’d even finalised our production!”
The nappies – they’re the real deal
“We’re the first nappy company in the world to use 100% compostable packaging, which is something we’re incredibly proud of,” Lisa says. “The nappy itself is mostly plant based and one of the most biodegradable disposable nappies in the world”.
And they’re not stopping at nappies. “We’re in the process of adding more product ranges, we’re going into other home products,” Lisa reveals. “It’s not just about profits, it’s about the most environmentally conscious products, the most socially responsible manufacturing, and product range facilities.
Lisa and Lachlan’s hard work and commitment to not only the environment, but the needs of their customers, have seen them take out various awards, including the Queensland Telstra Business Award for Start Up. “That’s been huge for us, because it’s one thing for us to be really proud of what we’re building as a business, but it’s another for customers to see it,” Lisa grins. “It’s a pat on the back for us. It’s instant credibility. They know that we’re a reputable, quality business. So for us it’s a great accolade after the hard, lonely road of a business start-up.”
One of the main things Lisa and Lachlan would have done differently when starting up their business would have been to find investors early on. “For the first years, we’d been able to operate by investing our own savings and using ANZ Debt Finance, but we are now at a point where we need to generate more capital to grow the business,” Lisa explains. “We have started meeting some possible investors, but we are quite careful around the best match for our business. We haven't decided yet on raising capital through private loans, or finding an equity partner. However, for us, if we were to give an equity share in our business we are very clear that the investor must have two things (apart from capital!), a passion around the environment, and also a skill set which can enhance our business to help it grow.”
What other advice would Lisa give to anyone wanting to start an environmentally-friendly, socially responsible business?
- Find really good mentors – it’s important to understand that you don’t have to solve all the problems yourself. If you have some great mentors you can talk to, they’ve probably faced similar problems and have overcome them. “Whenever we’ve faced particular challenges in our business, we go and find someone among our mentors who’s already solved it,” Lisa explains.
- Consider your environmental impact – “don’t think of just yourselves and your profits – make sure you consider the impact you’re going to have on the environment and on future generations to come,” Lisa says. “It’s our obligation as business leaders to place social morality over profits.”
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