Meet Jessica Bragdon, originally from the States, she grew up in Boston and New Hampshire. Lived in NYC for a big chunk of her life (which is where she met her Australian husband Paul) who grew up in rural Western Australia. They fell in love and she moved to Australia ten years ago. They have two little boys, Emerson and Arthur, and a rather mature Australian Shepherd called Gotham.
In 2017, Jess founded KOALA ECO – a natural non-toxic cleaning range, that not only looks like you could style your home with it, but smells edible.
As a mum with a young family – this is a priority for me personally – I spent the morning with Jess to find out why she decided to create this brand which is quintessentially Australian from its logo to the smells of the Aussie bush.
‘I guess you could call KOALA ECO a pragmatic solution to a personal frustration. Paul and I were constantly on the hunt for safe, non-toxic cleaning products that not only could make our home smell (naturally) fabulous but would also actually work. We felt Emerson and Arthur (and Gotham) shouldn’t have to hold their breath in order to avoid absorbing chemicals every time we cleaned the family home.’
‘But we couldn’t find what we wanted, so ultimately we thought: why don’t we make our own? We’re both from entrepreneurial backgrounds, and so being KOALA ECO’s first—and therefore possibly most demanding—customers, we had some pretty specific and sophisticated aims in mind. Primarily we wanted something that not only worked flawlessly but also could be misted safely around our children. We wanted to use ingredients derived from nature and sourced locally. Then, aside from the formulas being 100 percent safe and effective, we also wanted our products to look stylish in case we needed them handy around the house for accidental spills, or if we were just too busy to put them away.’
So we did a lot of research and started working carefully with a local chemist and lab, and the result was KOALA ECO, launched in Sydney early in 2017.
Essentially, it’s all about clean homes with a clean conscience, encouraging people to choose products that are absolutely free of any synthetic chemicals or toxins, and won’t harm people, pets, or the planet.
We use pure essential oils derived from trees and plants like Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Lemon Scented Iron Bark, Lemon Myrtle, peppermint, lavender and rosemary. We also use essential oil extracted from the peel of citrus species like grapefruit and mandarin. These all have incredible natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
Aside from these essential oils we use vinegar, sugar-based biodegradable alcohol and bicarbonate soda, plant-derived solubilisers and surfactants, and purified water. So everything is non-toxic, vegan, grey water safe and is not tested on animals. No dyes, masking agents, synthetic perfumes, chlorine, bleach, sodium laurel sulphates & phosphates. We also sell scrubbing brushes and cloths made from organic bamboo.
For every product sold, we give a donation to One Percent for the Planet, a global environmental charity.
In just over one year KOALA ECO has global distribution…
We’re now in Korea, Japan and the UK, and planning to set up manufacture and distribution in the US by the end of the year. We’re really thrilled KOALA ECO products are now stocked in outlets in Hong Kong and mainland China, so if further opportunities like that eventuate for a physical presence in addition to our online one, we’ll definitely be taking a serious look at them.
It’s also incredibly important that we stay true to our ethos. The Eco on the name (and dot-eco domain for our website) represents the goals and values of a passionately committed environmental community on an international and multicultural scale. We were one of the first businesses to be invited to re-badge as a dot-eco company by the Vancouver-based dot-eco movement, launched by two former United Nations Environment Programme staffers. We’re really proud to be part of that.
We have a feeling this design loving, ocean-loving mum of two beautiful boys – the success story of KOALA ECO has only just begun!