A purpose-led business challenges traditional thinking to make genuinely significant change possible. Malcolm and Melanie Rands (pictured) did just that when they set out to cut nasty chemicals from their lives and founded the eco products company ecostore, and it’s not for profit arm Fairground Foundation.
Malcolm, with a background in the arts not for profit sector, was behind a successful mid-winter festival that brought real snow to the so called ‘winterless North’ of New Zealand. He came away knowing that believing in something wholeheartedly was a powerful platform on which to build support for your mission. He also saw how this knowledge might be applied to creating a new business model by which business could provide sustainable funding for a not for profit. All he needed was the vision and ethical underpinning to make it happen.
The vision for ecostore came about while Malcolm and Melanie were part of an eco-village housed on the pristine land of Northland, New Zealand, in the 1980s. The group was made up of organic gardeners who challenged themselves to keep the water leaving their property as pure as the water that came in. Armed with eight years of knowledge about taking the lead in sustainable practice led to sourcing and then making products that were safer for the environment.
When ecostore started in 1993, it quickly built a loyal following, receiving messages from people who said ecostore’s products were beneficial for health conditions such as eczema and asthma – and this aspect became as important for product development as environmental protection. The people who bought the products were, and still are, conscious consumers – people who make buying decisions based on support for ethics-led, sustainable businesses.
But as sales grew, money was never made for its own sake. The disruptive social action model Malcolm had put in place continued to underpin ecostore.
Through its not for profit arm Fairground Foundation, Malcolm and Melanie’s ultimate purpose has been to fund projects that challenge the status quo and encourage others around the world to follow suit through freely shared IP. Malcolm and Melanie’s goal was to start with the end in mind, creating a venture with enough scale to make a difference.
That has since been realised and today ecostore sells in major supermarkets on both sides of the Tasman and exports to several Asian countries. Its product range spans baby care, kids, skin and haircare, household cleaning, fragrance free and bulk.
Ecostore’s success allows the Fairground Foundation to pursue globally scalable projects for social and environmental good. They include Bucket, helping to connect and fund New Zealand conservation groups restoring and protecting biodiversity; and Bumpspace, housing developments that aim to create strong neighborhoods that encourage and enable connection and community.
A big part of being a purpose-led business is the belief that sustainability is only the start. Ecostore also believes in being a restorative business, considering the lifecycle of every product. It also means upholding a commitment to upfront investment and innovation that has long term payoff.
A recent example is the Carbon Capture Pak – a renewable, sugarcane-based plastic bottle that is fully recyclable and helps people reduce their carbon footprint. This multi-award-winning packaging alternative was ecostore’s response to climate change, and it’s been found that if all traditional plastic in Australia was changed to Carbon Capture Paks, it would allow 63 million tree seedlings to be grown for a decade.
If all traditional plastic in Australia was changed to Carbon Capture Paks, it would allow 63 million tree seedlings to be grown for a decade.
Ecostore aren’t just excited about the future, they’re constantly working to innovate and empower us all to play our part in a better one.
You can hear more from Malcolm Rands at Purpose 2018, taking place in Sydney from February 27 to 28. UTS students can use discount code ‘students’. To hear about more opportunities from the UTS Hatchery, sign up to our newsletter.
This article originally appeared on the Purpose blog. Read more here.