Starting ones own business is challenging, starting it in a niche sector can be daunting. We love how the Green, Natural and Organic sector has grown in South Africa over the past years and thought we would check in with some of the industry pioneers to find out a bit more about how they did it! For our first interview in this series, we speak with the lovely Kerry van Graan, founder of the phenomenal Better Earth company.
Shoporganic: Where did the idea to start Better Earth come from?
Kerry:There are a few reasons. I studied environmental management for a while and realised that what goes down our drains has a huge knock-on effect down the line. We live on a water scarce continent so the need to be able to use grey water is huge and I want to provide products that make this easy and safe to do. Then when I had my own children I realised how harsh conventional products can on sensitive skin, so this drove me as well.
Shoporganic: What do you feel have been the main challenges in bringing Better Earth to where it is today?
Kerry: I think that up until recently people did not see the value in using ‘green’ products. Sadly, it is only now that people are being affected by environmental changes that we are realising the need to watch how what we use affect the earth. From a manufacturing point of view I find packaging incredibly frustrating. We really need good packaging that can hold cleaning products that is made from recycled material or that is bio-degradable. I am very big into 2nd use or biodegradable packaging. Any business thinkers out there? This is a great opportunity.
Shoporganic: How did you overcome them?
Kerry: I have been quite lucky as I think Better Earth came onto the market at a time when the mind-shift had started happening, so I have been able to grow through word of mouth and a general increasing awareness from consumers. I am also lucky to have had a support system that made sure our products are good quality which has helped our reputation. From a packaging perspective - still looking.
Shoporganic: Any advice for entrepreneurs thinking of entering the natural and organic marketplace in South Africa at this time?
Kerry: It is tough but there is space for everyone to play a part in this industry. The more, new thinkers come into the market the better it will get. Don’t compromise on what goes into your products. Do whatever you need to do. Work 2 jobs if you need to but don’t give up. I have been told to just give up plenty of times and I have wanted to, but it is worth it if even a small percent of the consumer market changes for the better.
Shoporganic: What is your personal favourite product from the Better Earth range, and why?
Kerry: I love the dish washing liquid. It was the first product of ours that did really well and I still love washing dishes with it.
Shoporganic: It is one of our favourites too! It's been on the Shoporganic Top 5 with good reason! Tell us, what is your personal favourite product from another locally available range, and why?
Kerry: At the moment I am in love with the GAIA skin care products and shampoo. Wow they are great. Also please keep an eye out for a company called AquaRenu Solutions. They do the most amazing and affordable grey water systems. They are taking a break for a while due to an unforeseen tragedy but these guys are seriously awesome and will be huge in the market one day.
Find out more about Better Earth here: http://www.shoporganic.co.za/better-earth