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ThinkBaby talks to Earth Friendly Baby

Ashwin Mehta, founder of Earth Friendly Baby, explains why being ecologically friendly is important in day to day modern family life

Posted: 5 March 2008
by Laura Lee Davies

Earth Friendly Baby Eco Wipes
Ashwin Mehta founder of Earth Friendly Baby, explains why being ecologically friendly is important in day to day modern family life.

There are lots of baby bathing products on the market, including names which have been around since mums and dads were kids themselves, so why do you feel it’s important for babies to have their own skincare products like yours?
Babies generally have very delicate and thin skin and so it is important to have products which are milder and gentler than normal adult products. In addition, as some of what is applied to the skin is absorbed into the body, it is important to use products which try to reduce the amount of synthetic ingredients such as artificial fragrances and colouring – most natural products should exclude these.

What inspired you to start this range?
We were originally distributing the range and it only had a handful of products. We thought it was such a great idea that we eventually bought the brand so that we could expand the product range and make it available much more widely. I also have young children of my own and it seemed natural to want the ‘best’ products for them.

How did it grow, did it take a while to get people to stock what you were selling or did you find there was a real hunger for a range like this?
When we first started with the range in 1999, it was difficult to get stores to stock it even though there were not many natural baby toiletries on the market. We used to send out many samples and personally visit stores one by one. However, once stores put the products on the shelf, they immediately found that customers loved the range. With a lot of hard work over the years, we have increased the number of outlets to now include Waitrose, department stores, eco-baby stores, health stores and on-line stores and we continue to grow – in fact we are finding more retailers coming to us asking to the stock the range which is good. Nevertheless there are now more natural ranges available than at any other time and there is lots of competition, which means we have to keep on our toes. However, it does offer more choice to the ever-growing number of parents who now demand natural alternatives to conventional products.

On ThinkBaby we find that many parents are looking for solutions that help them to be as ecologically friendly as possible, do you think that ‘green’ support has grown since you have been working in this field?
Awareness for ‘green’ issues has grown dramatically since we first started. About 10 years ago you could only find natural products in health stores, and the products often had a ‘candles and sandals’ look to them. People were not so interested in the environment because they did not see any direct effect to their own lives. However, in the last few years, ‘green’ issues have very much become mainstream concerns, and every month publications are always discussing ecological matters, and this has greatly increased public awareness of the issues.

Do you think parents now seem more clued up about body health for them and their children?
Although the basics of a healthy diet and exercise have always been commonsense, many more parents are now aware of the direct effects of not eating properly, and the long-term advantages of giving their children a more nutritious diet. There are also many more sources of reference for parents to check information, as well as good media coverage of health.

Despite the simple and gentle way in which Earth Friendly Baby is presented, it must have been a hard struggle to ensure the development of the range was as ethical, ecologically-friendly and baby-kind as possible. What were the biggest challenges?
Biggest challenge has been to keep the range affordable. Most parents really like the idea of natural products for their babies and children, and can see the long-term benefits, however the majority are very price conscious and so products cannot be too expensive. One of our aims is to make great natural quality products that are affordable, and so to help achieve this, we have reduced our profits and tried to work with similar-minded suppliers to be able to offer parents an affordable natural option.

What are your favourite products from the range?
My personal favourite are the Eco Baby Wipes as they are 100% degradable and just as strong as normal wipes – standard wipes tend to use non-biodegradable plastic and considering the number of wipes used everyday, this adds up to a huge number. If everyone switched to more eco-friendly products, imagine the difference that would make to the planet.

What do you find goes down best with babies and toddlers?
Toddlers tend to love all the Bubblebaths because it is so much fun to splash around in the bath and because Our bubblebaths gives nice foaming bubbles unlike some other natural versions. My kids also tend to keep the used bottles of the Shampoo & Bodywashes abd play games with them while having bath!
If you have a tired and tetchy one-year-old, what would be your one quiet-time tip? First, it is important to create a quiet and peaceful environment (maybe some soft background music) and then help the child calm down at their own pace; sometimes a quick quiet time lavender bath/wash helps to relax and calm the child, and/or followed by a simple gentle massage.

You’ve won so many awards, what next for Earth Friendly Baby?
Yes, all the awards are pleasing as it shows what a great range Earth Friendly Baby is – in fact it was the first natural baby toiletry range to win a prestigious Mother & Baby Magazine Award, normally dominated by brands like J&J and Sudocrem. We have many requests to introduce new products, and so are working on these. Our aim is to make Earth Friendly Baby the number one name when parents want great quality natural baby products at reasonable prices – watch this space! In addition, we have now launched an older sibling – Earth Friendly Kids – to cater for all our little friends who are older and would like a natural range of their own. Earth Friendly Kids has great superhero characters and tips on each products such as ‘Share a bath so that you not only save water, but also have twice the fun!’

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