Eco business has big dreams
Find something you believe in, work hard and don’t give up.
That’s the advice Ecostore founder Malcolm Rands would give to those people who dare to dream big.
The green-minded businessman is celebrating 20 years since he and his wife Melanie started what would become their multimillion dollar company Ecostore, now leading in New Zealand in the manufacturing and retailing of sustainable household and personal care products.
It’s a long way from its humble beginnings as a mail-order business operating out of a dug-out basement in their Northland home.
‘‘People often say to me did you imagine it would get this big and I say ‘yep’,’’ Mr Rands says.
‘‘In fact I still consider Ecostore to be a start-up, we’ve got ambitions to take on the world.’’
An interest in green activism and a desire for sustainable living led him and friends to establish an ecovillage in the mid-1980s.
They were using organic gardening practices on the property for many years before realising they were still being exposed to unsavoury chemicals through their cleaning and body care products.
‘‘That was a real turning point for us. In our village all our water comes from a Department of Conservation reserve, it is as pure as any other water on the planet.
‘‘We thought we’d challenge ourselves to see if the water leaving our property was just as pure as when it entered it.’’
After three years of building the business from North- land the couple realised it wasn’t very green to have all of their products shipped to and fro to Auckland so they upped sticks and moved to the big smoke with their two young daughters.
They settled on an old wooden boathouse in Freemans Bay which would serve temporarily as both home and warehouse and is now home to their retail store.
In their original plans Auckland was to be home for little more than a year but they still have a house in St Marys Bay some 16 years later.
Ecostore is now on the shelves of thousands of stores in the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian countries.
They were ahead of the pack when tackling the eco market decades ago, Mr Rands says.
‘‘A lot of people have found it really hard doing the right thing, our philosophy is we want to make it easy and pleasurable for you to make a difference,’’ he says.
There have been times he thought about packing it all in, he says.
‘‘Make sure whatever you’re doing is your passion because you’re going to go through hard times.’’
New Zealanders have a bad idea of failure, he says.
‘‘If you go to the States and you talk to entrepreneurs, they’re proud of their first five businesses they set up that have crashed.
‘‘It just what you’ve got to do.
‘‘Every time you fail you learn so much,’’ Mr Rands says.
Green dream: Ecostore founder Malcolm Rands is sharing how he turned a dream in a Northland garage into a multimillion dollar business.
Humble beginnings: An old wooden boathouse in Freemans Bay is now home to the Ecostore warehouse and retail store.