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Interview with Belinda Everingham, Founder of Bondi Wash

Bondi Wash

Here at mjresident, we know the importance of giving you as much information about the products we sell but letting you in on the incredibly talented people behind those brands is where the real richness lies

So to kick off 2017, we sat down with the very clever Belinda Everingham, Founder of Bondi Wash to find out how it all started, handy hints and tips and what products she loves the most.  

Q: How did you come about starting Bondi Wash?

A: It was quite a long journey – starting with reacting to chemicals used in the home – and finding a lack of great natural alternatives. But the real impetus came while on holiday in Far North Queensland in 2012. Reading the novel Perfume, which is set in Paris and Grasse and all about the power of scent, I reflected on what the French have created from their flora. Up there I was surrounded by Australian natives that I had never heard of like Davidson’s Plum and Guangdong. It got me wondering if we could create beautiful natural products and scents from our botanicals. Returning home to Sydney I discovered many oils and extracts with amazing properties. And the business really fell into place quite quickly after that. We launched 18 months later in November 2013 with 3 products in 3 scents.

 

Q: What is it about the Australian Botanicals were you drawn to and why?

A: Oh so many reasons. The diversity. The visual beauty. The toughness. The natural scents. And ultimately the properties they offer – whether it be anti-bacterial properties or anti-oxidant levels – they are quite amazing and research into and use of them is only just beginning.

Q: How long does it take you to create new fragrances/variants?

A: I went a little overboard when I first started creating scents. I found so many unusual native oils that I wanted to create fragrances from. So I had 5 lined up by the time Bondi Wash launched. I did a lot of testing with friends and family with those 5 initial scents. Nowadays though I kind of know if a scent works or not – my nose has become more sensitive over time. So it can be quite fast. Each scent though has to work in the product – so time to launch can be much longer. We also test our products on people with sensitive skin – so that adds to the time it takes to launch something. 

Q: What is your favourite fragrance from the range?

A: It changes all the time. Right now it is Buddha wood and Blackcurrant (our scent 10) which is our most complex blend. Designed specifically for the skin, it has 16 different essential oils. It’s soft and refined and quite different from anything else. It will be released in more products later this year but at the moment comes in a Mist Spray and an Essential Oil.

Q: What’s your favourite product to use in the home and why?

A: It has to be the Bench Spray. It was our first product developed and has proven to be incredibly multi-purpose – and effective in ways I never predicted. We literally use it everywhere - the bathrooms, in the oven, on carpets, sofas, stains on clothes, even on the skin to remove stubborn dirt or grease. You wouldn’t think it as it does not smell like a potent cleaning product, but it actually works extremely well. It is also lab tested to confirm it ‘kills 99.99% of germs’.

Q: How important is having no chemicals in your products? Has this lead you to producing the new baby range from Bondi Wash?

A: We do a lot of research and set a really high bar when it comes to natural ingredients. We won’t include an ingredient if it is only partially plant derived (e.g. coco-betaine) as we think this misleads customers. All our products are 99% + derived from nature and 100% when possible. And the only synthetic chemicals in the range are food-grade preservatives. This creates challenges in terms of product development – and we sit our products in ovens for months prior to launching products to ensure they won’t go off on the shelf. 

And yes, a baby range made sense given our focus on natural gentle products. I was a little taken aback when I read the ingredients labels on well-known baby products. For example, one of the most famous baby lotions contains an ingredient used in removing paint and unclogging drains (sodium hydroxide). And most baby products, even natural ones, include synthetic preservatives known to irritate like phenoxyethanol, sodium hydroymethylglutinate and methylisothiazolinone.

Q: What makes the Bondi Wash range so special for babies? 

A: It is really gentle – and contains genuinely 100% natural ingredients. It also contains a lovely ingredients that will soothe and protect delicate baby skin. Blue Cypress Oil is one that is a known eczema treatment and great for soothing irritated or inflamed skin. Another is Emu Apple (or muntries) that is a native berry eaten in fine restaurants but very high in antioxidants to nourish and protect the skin. We specially designed the scent to suit a baby’s delicate skin and system. It is quite an unusual scent – a blend of woody and citrus - which is calming and grounding for both adults and babies.

Q: What drew you to launching a pet range? 

A: For the same reason we developed the baby range…because dog’s have super sensitive skin. We had a lot of dog owners complaining about their dog’s irritated skin after bathing. So we set about creating a gentle range for dogs. We had to be careful which essential oils we used as not all are safe for dogs. We get fantastic feedback on this range from owners – if only the dogs could talk we’d know what they think. And yes, the range is suitable for use on cats and bunnies and guinea pigs (other than the Dry Dog Wash) – a question we get quite frequently.

Q: What are some clever cleaning tips you have that you can share with us?

A: Cleaning is actually one of my least favourite things to do. So I try hard to minimise time spent on it. Whilst I love a clean house, there are a million better things to do than clean up. So that is one tip….try to minimise time spent on it.

I really try to avoid the most toxic chemicals if I can. For example, I don’t dry clean anything now after my local dry cleaner told me dry cleaning would not remove an oil stain on some silk pants. I went home, sprayed the bench spray on the stain and washed them in the delicate wash with perfect results.

And oven cleaners are typically SOOO toxic. You can smell it. So these days we just more regularly wipe the inside of the oven with the bench spray and a surface scrub to avoid the need for the toxic stuff.

Similarly, and I might be getting boring here, but we don’t get carpet or furniture cleaners in. Their chemicals are also not great. Instead we lightly wipe down carpets and furniture with either a bucket of diluted floor wash and spray the bench spray on stains or marks as they occur.

Q: The latest Stay Away Spray is doing well, will you be extending this range at all? 

A: Hmmm – to be honest we hadn’t considered extending it. We use both the cream and spray at home and that is enough to protect you from bugs. But we are introducing more skincare products later this year – with active properties. There’s a shaving cream, a lip balm and a native night balm – all fully developed just waiting on the packaging.

Q: Tell us a bit about you?  What/who inspires you and why? 

A: That’s a tough one. I have been a latent entrepreneur for many years now…I was in a corporate career, which I loved but was always thinking of other things I could do. Back in the 90s after living in the US I came back to Australia with the idea of a fresh bottled juice company….but ended up falling pregnant and had children instead…and then nudie came along with the same concept.

I am inspired by people who forge their own path and do things a little differently…in whatever field they are in.  

I really admire bold creativity – and think Australia is blessed as a nation with a high proportion of ‘creatives’. Our school system might be slipping behind in English and Maths but it is doing something right to foster creative thinkers.

Q: What’s your favourite thing to do on weekends? 

A: In summer, a dip at our local beach (MacKenzies) is hard to go past – and it’s an unofficial dog beach so our spoodle Roger joins us. I have a family that appreciates fine food and I don’t love cooking, so eating out is another thing we often do.

 

Q: Favourite coffee table book?

A: Mr Jason Grant’s books on design I love for his relaxed Australian style. I also love the Reader’s Digest Guide to the Australian Coast. It’s no longer in print but gives you great aerial photos of most major places on the Australian coast. You can still find copies on eBay.

Q: Favourite blog to follow?

I don’t often read blogs to be honest. But I do love some Australian writers. Don Watson’s book The Bush I am reading at the moment – which captures the impact the rugged Australian bush has had on the character and spirit of Australians. I love Nikki Gemmell’s weekly column. Eucalyptus by Murray Bail is another Australian favourite – about a father who would only give his daughter’s hand to a man who could name every variety of eucalyptus. And Kate Grenville who wrote the Secret River has a new book ‘The Case Against Fragrance’ about the dangers of synthetic fragrance.

Actually I do love Nitch (_nitch) on Instagram…they have a blog but I love their daily posts with insightful short quotes from famous folk.

Q: Favourite city and why?

A: Outside Australia, I’d love to go back to Paris. Locals tell me it was not typical but we had a week there a while ago during Paris Fashion Week - the sun shone every day and the streets were filled with glamour and excitement.

Q: What city would you love to visit and why?

A: Milan. Sara who runs our new flagship store in Bondi is from Milan so I am hearing all about it. I picture a beautiful old city full of elegant people and fabulous shopping.

Q: Finally, when you entertain at home what are the key things you do to prepare your home before quests arrive?

A: Well the answer obviously involves fragrance and nature J. I’ll have fresh flowers or plants all round the house. If I can’t get to the florist, I’ll cut some from the garden so there is plenty of greenery around. We designed our garden to be fragrant – so I am often bringing gardenia, frangipani, cardamom or magnolias inside.

 

We would like to thank Belinda for being one of our original and biggest suppliers here at mjresident and if there are Bondi Wash products that you would love to purchase that aren’t available at mjresident, please drop us a line and we will arrange for you.

 

X Kath & Caz



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