Bikeables is very excited to announce its partnership with Spiffy Naturals; a local, eco-conscious company that uses left over fruit from juice bars to create powerful, safe and environmentally friendly home-care products. We were fortunate to sit down with Shelby Cook, founder and operator of Spiffy Naturals this past weekend and ask her about her company:
(B) Welcome Shelby and thanks so much for taking this time to tell us about your company. To start, can you describe Spiffy Naturals- for those who don’t know you and your company?
(S) I would love to! Spiffy Naturals is an eco-conscious and all natural home care innovator. We provide all natural products that truly are safe, made with minimal ingredients and absolutely zero chemicals. We do this through partnerships with local juice bars. At the end of each day we collect their left over citrus rinds and create a powerful cleaning product with simple and effective ingredients. We carry a line of plant based and all-purpose surface cleaners, hypoallergenic laundry soap and all natural air fresheners right now and we are constantly growing and adding new items.
(B) Why is using all natural ingredients in your cleaning products so important to you?
(S) Well I think the whole idea that started Spiffy Naturals was when I noticed my favourite juice bars throwing away their citrus rinds. At first I thought, "hey, why aren't you composting those"? They told me that they produce so much food waste that their composts become full so quickly (keep in mind these juice bars are in the city). I thought I could do something with those and I just started experimenting. My recipe is actually an old home steading recipe that was used many years ago and still is. Getting back to your question though, I have been using natural products for years and I am always looking for better products with cleaner ingredients. I find that a lot of the products marketed as 'natural' aren't truly natural and they often include some harmful ingredients (such as fragrance and chlorine derivatives). I didn't like this so I thought lets provide something natural and real.
(B) Can you tell us more about fragrance and chlorine and why they are harmful?
(S) So first I'd like to say that I encourage everyone to do his or her own research because there is so much information out there. Fragrance has come a long way from when it was first made with grain alcohol and plants; it now has an incredibly long list of additives and chemicals to create a chemically derived scent. This topic requires the length of a novel in itself but to keep it short, chemicals like fragrance and chlorine have been proven to disrupt our nervous system, which can cause severe illness's later in life (aka; Alzheimer's and Dementia). Chlorine, which is widely used, is also a harmful product causing similar effects; a few symptoms that you would notice immediately would be a headache and irritation to your skin and nostrils. Some people reading this might think well I use fragrance and it doesn't bother me, those people would more than likely be very used to the scent and their nose and skin have adapted. I encourage anyone using chemically scented products to avoid scent for a full week and then attempt a walk through the laundry/cleaning product line in a general supermarket. Here are a few great resources to look into this further.
(B) Obviously you feel passionate for the environment, what motivated you to feel this way?
(S) It's true, I feel extremely passionate about the environment, which I think all of us should. It is so easy to walk through life imagining that our actions don't effect our environment but they most certainly do. I would chalk it up to consciousness, making a conscious decision as to what we buy and how much we consume. I grew up in the country in the 1000 Islands area and lived connected to nature. Composting and recycling were very normal for us and I think that when I moved into the city I felt that those behaviors were seen quite a bit less. I think that change is what sparked me to be even more conscious of my consumption and purchases. One person’s choices make a much bigger impact then most of us think. For instance if you walk into a store and buy organic, local and sustainable products then the store is prompted to purchase more of these products. We have a vote when we shop and each of us have the opportunity to make a huge impact.
(B) How did you get Spiffy Naturals started? What was your inspiration?
(S) Spiffy Naturals was totally a light bulb idea! It came to me when, as I mentioned before, I was watching my local juice bar toss some super fresh citrus rinds. I am a huge fan of companies that up cycle, it is so great to take something that would otherwise thrown away and give it a second use. Local creators and environmental companies constantly inspire me. Hamilton is just glowing with young entrepreneurs and start up businesses, I really have faith that these people will change the city we live in and create a positive and eco friendly place to be.
(B) Clearly Spiffy Naturals is doing something different- but in your words tell us what makes your cleaning products so unique?
(S) We are always striving to be better, but some of the things I am most proud of would be that our ingredients are locally sourced, vegan friendly and eco-friendly. Of course you know about our citrus rinds, which make up one of our largest ingredients for our surface cleaners. What people might not know about would be our laundry soaps it that we source our ingredients from Guelph, Ontario and only buy products that are safe for the environment and us. For example I recently shared with our customers that our soap flakes (one ingredient in our laundry soaps) is made from a combination of coconut and vegetable glycerin. This is important for people to know because most soaps is made from palm oil (which is harmful to the environment) and some even have animal bi-products in them. I encourage everyone to research this topics as well.
(B) What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced so far? Does anything stand out?
(S) Great question, the answer is definitely there have been challenges and I think there always will be. There are good challenges that make the business better and there are social challenges that are often best ignored. For example and I think a lot of young entrepreneurs will likely have experienced this too, there are a lot of opinions floating around in our friend and family circles. When I first proposed the idea of this business to family especially they were more than skeptical.
If I could give one piece of advise to anyone with any idea, it would be that if it feels right do it. You don't need anyone to tell you if it's a great idea or not. You just need to try and if it works then keep going and never look back. That goes for any of our own doubts for ourselves, its kind of cliché but we really are capable of doing almost anything we set our minds to.
(B) Any words of wisdom or motivation for aspiring entrepreneurs?
(S) So many ha-ha, I’ll elaborate on my last answer a little here. Put your ideas out there and when you do your support and your "people" so to speak will come to you. I have met so many incredible people on this journey and they have each taught me something valuable. A great quote that I love is, "the more you do, the more you can do". I have had so many nights when I just didn't know what to do to push the business further and you know what, I just started doing anything. Even if I spent the day or night counting labels, washing bottles or posting online. Every act leads to another so just keep going and your ideas will come to you.
(B) If there is one thing that you would like the consumer to know about home cleaning products or the home cleaning industry- perhaps something that most people are unaware of- what is it?
(S) I would have to say, natural cleaning products have really impressed me with their tough cleaning action. I have personally been amazed by the cleaning properties of many naturally occurring ingredients like citrus rinds, essential oils and fresh herbs in these products like ours. I am so happy to be part of the green cleaning movement, and share the powers of natural products.
(B) Thanks so much Shelby! Anything else you would like to add or let our readers know about?
(S) I would just love to say that I really appreciate all of the support that I have received from the wonderful people of Hamilton. This city is beaming with new and innovative businesses and ideas that often come from our young entrepreneurs, which is a pleasure to see.
***FIRST 10 ORDERS OVER $30 THIS WEEK WILL GET A FREE SAMPLE OF SPIFFY NATURAL'S ALL PURPOSE SURFACE CLEANER***