Interview with Kendall Seddon of Luv Me Eco

Luv Me Eco, the Australian owned and based, independent family business changing the planet one bamboo nappy at a time! Kendall Seddon, the CEO and Co-Founder of Luv Me Eco, has poured her heart and soul into creating an eco conscious baby product company that is affordable for families. From the rolling mountains and fresh water lake on their property, Kendall, her Mum who is also her business partner and her family, enjoy the country lifestyle. They live and breathe eco ideology and it was a pleasure to interview Kendall to hear how they have revolutionised the baby product industry.

For the whole family with the planet in mind.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am originally from Yamba, as I was born in Grafton, but now for the last 20 years have lived on the southern end of the Gold Coast on acreage at Terranora. I am a country girl, love living on the land, animals and still have a few horses. I don’t ride much anymore with being a busy mum of 3. My interests are going to the gym, running, spending time with my family and eating out. I love finding yummy but healthy places to eat at. I also love gardening and cooking. I have a very creative mind so I find gardening and cooking help for me to unwind and create beauty, plus its something fun I can do with my kids too.  

Tell us about your business Luv Me Eco and what inspired you to step into the eco conscious baby product industry? 

I was sick of the corporate lifestyle that was taking me away from my family too much. I wanted to find something that I would love doing, that would give me the freedom to still be a mum and also leave a legacy. I felt that I needed to leave a big impact with what I would chose to do. Something that would make my family proud of me, but more importantly to be proud of myself. I know that one day when I leave this earth, that I have done everything in my power to make it a better place. Being a mum and from a large family I want to create a baby range that was going to align with being better for our earth. With my corporate sales and marketing experience we haven’t looked back. For the first time in my life I am so excited to go to work each day and LOVE what I do with so much passion.  

Kendall & her family

Tell us about your experience starting up your business as a busy Mum of three daughters. What were some learning curves you had to overcome early on?

Starting my business as a busy mum of three has definitely been the most challenging experience and definitely made my journey take longer than if I didn’t have kids! But then in saying that, my motivation for this is my kids so I might not still be doing this after 9 years now without them. They are part of my journey and everyday they are having something to do in our business and they love it too. One day it will all be theirs and this makes me so happy knowing that. Plus the added benefit of making a massive difference to our environment. There were days and times, don’t get me wrong, that I have definitely been in tears and wanting to throw it all in. Without the support of my amazing Husband, Craig, and business partner, my mum, Laurie, with their “never give up attitude,” I have kept going. It was a dream that my husband would one day work in our business and this year being the 9th Year, its become a reality. We are now both full time in the business and loving every day that we go to work together. I think the key to making it work is that we LOVE what we do and everyday we have so much FUN doing it too.

Some learning curves that I had to overcome early on is to not be too trusting. I know that sounds sad to say but we have had a lot of people come into our business who have done the wrong thing by us, so now I am much more careful with who I let into my business and also personal life. I have also learnt to say no to things that will distract and take my time away from my goals and dreams. As I have gotten older I feel that my time is so precious, so I only let certain people in my life to share it with me whether its business or personal.

You have a close knit family and your business partner is your Mum! Any tips on how you balance family life and business life? 

Mmmm this is always such an interesting thing, trying to balance everything. Some weeks I have it altogether or some days and other days and/or weeks I don’t. I try and accept that it will never be perfect and take each day as it comes. Some days I end the day on a high feeling like I achieved a lot as a mum and business women and other days I feel like I didn’t achieve a lot. Days like that I definitely go home and have a big hot bath and this really helps de-stress me. As for any tips, I like to stay very organised that really helps me with being able to achieve so much each day. I also like to keep fit. I go to F45 every day and try to run 5km in the afternoon. Exercise is my go to for stress release for sure and without this I can tend to get a bit snappy haha. I think planning ahead is the key too. I will meal prep or cook things in advance and in business I like to have regular meetings with my team to help stream line our productivity. I will also block out time in the day at work that I need to have no interruptions so it might just be a few hours but I find that having no interruptions I can get so much more done. This has been working really well for helping me balance everything as a busy CEO.

Ezra is a Luv Me Fan!

Tell us about the design and manufacturing process of your bamboo products. How long does it take from beginning to end?

My kids have very sensitive skin so I was instantly drawn to bamboo as being the best fibre to use when it comes to make a baby range of nappies, wipes, breast pads etc. Some rashes that you see on little bubs skin is so sad so I definitely wanted my products to help minimize this if not make it go away altogether so that was so important to me. As I started to research more and more about bamboo, I found that not only are the fibres smooth making it less likely to irritate the skin like cotton or corn fibres. But it also doesn’t need any pesticide to grow it as no insects like to eat it! HOW AWESOME is that! It’s naturally organic! Plus it doesn’t need much water to grow either, it duplicates itself and naturally biodegrades back into the soil too. Its hands down the best ingredients by far so that made it a no brainer for me.

The design process has been a very detailed and researched phase as I wanted to make sure I had the best, softest and most absorbent eco bamboo nappy, wipes, breast pads etc. I wanted to make sure my wipes were super soft but so strong. I feel as mum’s big thick wipes are bulky and hard to use but soft silky feel wipes that are super strong is the key. So to achieve this with our wipes I knew that making them 100% bamboo would keep them silky soft but super strong even if that was more costly than a cotton or corn fibre wipe. They pull up out like tissues which when you are in a hurry to grab another wipes is a must! We also make sure they have a clip lid so they don’t dry out and with no nasty ingredients they are perfect for bubs sensitive skin. Features like this do add to my cost price but having a quality high end product that will make a mums life easier has always been my goal.

I also wanted to achieve this high quality with our nappies so to make sure I got the best sap which is sumoto sap from Japan. We also wanted to use bamboo fibre instead of cotton or corn fibres which are cheaper. I chose to have stretchy strong side tabs so that our nappies were comfortable for bub to wear but the tabs wouldn’t come off easy. I feel that after 9 years of perfecting all of the features of our nappies we now have the most absorbent and softest eco bamboo nappy and wipes that I am so proud to say is our own Australian family brand.

Living the eco lifestyle

When is your favourite hour in the day? 

I know this sounds funny but it really is when I go and get my kids from daycare and school. My kids are very passionate and get very excited about life similar to myself. So when I get them from school and daycare they come running over screaming mummy and daddy with so much joy and happiness so this is definitely my favourite part of my day. My kids are my life! I love what I do for my career but being a mum is the most important job of all and I take this very seriously. I will drop everything for my family and my kids.

Who are some women that inspire you? 

I have a lot of women who inspire me and sometimes it can just be a moment in my day or something someone says that inspires me. It can be something I read or see or experience that will inspire me. Even my 5 year old, 3 year old and 18 year old daughters will say or do something that inspires me. My husband, I know you say Women but without him supporting me and helping so much with our kids I definitely wouldn’t have achieved the success I have. He is such a hands on dad which is so awesome for me to see the close relationship he has with his girls especially when I lost my dad to cancer when I was only five. I feel like that Craig is in my life for me to see this close father daughter bond that I didn’t get to have as a child so I am soooo grateful every day for this and these moments. My mum who has also been my business partner for the last 9 years definitely inspires me. Her strength to fight her terminal cancer for 3 years now has definitely been a massive inspiration for me but also the most challenging time of my life and continues to be.

Luv Me Eco is paving the way for sustainable, eco friendly baby products, what are your goals for the future? (Personally and business wise!)

Personally I want to continue to improve and work on my work life balance. Making sure I am giving myself the time on my own that I need as being a busy mum I find I do put myself last. I want to change that more and really focus on being my true authentic self. Or as my 18 year old daughter would say you do you mum and the rest doesn’t matter. In business OMG I have so many plans for the future which is so exciting and keeps me awake at night a lot. So it will be just getting the foundations right for the growth that is about to come and the new products and changes. 2019 has already broken massive sales records and I haven’t even touched the surface with the exciting new changes coming. I am growing my team which I think is important to get the right people in the right roles. I am working massively on improvement also and fine tuning every aspect of my business to be the best that it can. I will continue with this mindset and attitude and enjoy this super fun roller coaster ride with my amazing team!

Luv Me Eco have kindly offered my readers 20% off their purchases from their Little Shoppers online store. Head over to their shop to see their full range of eco conscious products for your whole family. Use the code TASH20 to redeem 20% off. Luv Me Eco would love to give you all an opportunity to try a free sample by heading over to their shop. Follow this link for your FREE sample of their range!

You can also follow them on the socials on Instagram!

TASH20 for 20% off all the Luv Me Range!

Interview with Gypsy and Rye

Gypsy and Rye is the creation of Liv Canning, a Melbourne based Girl Boss with a big heart for others living in poverty. Her experience and understanding of the hardships for those living in Indonesia led her to start her bohemian accessories business. With the ongoing benefit of giving support to families in Northern remote and South Bali. Read on to learn about how Gypsy and Rye is supporting 11 families, one bag at a time!

Tell us about yourself?

My name’s Liv, and I’m from Melbourne! I grew up in Rye with my sister, brother and a single mum. We moved up to Melbourne when I was starting primary school and I’ve lived in the same place ever since! Mum passed away when I was 16, so it’s been a long and difficult road for us to get to where we are now. I currently live with my partner of 5 years, a beautiful Indonesian man called Dede. We are making the move back to Bali soon, and we cannot wait!

Tell us about Gypsy and Rye and the origins of its meaningful name

Gypsy and Rye was birthed after my solo trip to India about a year and a half ago. I was so in love with all the stunning accessories in India and I couldn’t think of many places in Australia that stocked anything similar at a decent price. On the way home from India I stopped over in Bali and fell in love with basically every leather bag and wallet that I came across, and thus Gypsy and Rye was born! It took me months of brainstorming to come up with the name. It was actually the hardest part! I’m the kind of person where everything I do needs to be meaningful to me in some way, so I really wanted my brand name to be special, while also reflecting on who I am as a person and the direction I wanted my brand to go. I spent just about every waking hour for months on end using name generators, writing lists, looking at photos, drawing different things, whatever I could to come up with a name that stuck, and I finally got there! 

What is your dream for Gypsy & Rye? 

I started my brand with an audience in mind, and that audience is your everyday gal. I want everyone to be able to afford something from Gypsy and Rye and I want people to feel special when they deal with us and when they use their new item. I want Gypsy and Rye to become a household name, and to be the go-to for boho accessories. I have some exciting things planned for the future, but for now it’s baby steps to get us there! 

Who are your style icons?

I don’t really have one in particular. I am drawn to anyone who has an individual sense of style, and I love people who wear things that no one else wears. Anyone that’s confident in their style and who is completely them self is an icon to me!

You lead a very busy life! Any tips of balancing your online business, day job and life in general?! 

I think the key to balancing it all out is “you don’t have to say yes to everything”. I don’t let myself get too busy with over committing to different things, and I find this allows me the chance to fit in everything I need to do without rushing or being overwhelmed. I work full time at my day job, a not for profit organisation called Challenge. We support kids with cancer, so as you can imagine I am mentally and emotionally exhausted when I get home each night, so I keep my weeknights free and allow myself a few hours before bed for Gypsy and Rye. I don’t go out much anymore, so my weekends are a chance to relax or catch up with the girls. I keep it pretty low key!

What are 3 things you can’t live without?

Food, my phone, and my partner (sappy!)

Tell us about what you have observed in Indonesia and the families you have supported? 

I have seen and learnt a whole lot in the 10 years I’ve been going to Indonesia. I lived there on and off for three years and worked full time with a very well known orphanage. I observed this place take advantage of well intending volunteers, staff and even the children, and I learnt the hard way that it was very much a case of me going in there with rose coloured glasses and thinking it was different to the horror stories I had heard (but chose to ignore). A few of the families I support are children who have come from that orphanage, they can no longer look after themselves because the orphanage has cut them off from their sponsors. Other families I support have lived in the cycle of poverty their whole lives and don’t have the education or means to break themselves out of that cycle. I support one family by paying their son’s University scholarship. He is the first person in their entire family to ever attend Uni, and he is at the top of every class. He has scored 95% and above on every test and exam so far. Can you imagine someone that smart missing out on the opportunity to further their education and getting themselves a decent job, just because their family cannot afford the school fees? His life would have ended up much like his parents, working on the streets or in a little shop making no more than $30 a week. The small amount of money it takes to change these people’s lives is priceless!

Through your travels to Indonesia and seeing their daily challenges, what are some practical ways we could support those who are less fortunate?

Being a third world country, almost everyone you come into contact with during a trip to Indonesia is likely to be struggling in some way. I know lots of people want to help when they are on holidays, and this usually comes in the form of visiting orphanages or similar facilities. I would advise against this for many reasons, the main one being that it only feeds into the orphanage tourism industry and creates a chain of supply and demand with the children who are brought in from loving families just to keep the donations coming in. Another reason is, you don’t always know where your money or gift donations are going. Most of the time goods that are donated end up sitting in a cupboard gathering dust. As a general rule, ask yourself if you would be allowed the same experience in a Western country. For example, would a school or center for disadvantaged kids in the USA allow you to come in during your holiday for a quick visit, even if you had no qualifications or credentials, just because you wanted to “see the kids”? No, definitely not. If you wouldn’t do it in your own country, don’t do it in a third world country. What I have found to be the most authentic way of helping those in need is to look at the people around you. If you get to know the locals and learn about their lives, you will find there are simple ways for you to help them. Things like eating at local warung as opposed to a large chain restaurant. Hiring a driver off the street as opposed to using the hotel transport. Stopping at a tattoo shop to have a beer with the guys who are sitting out the front. It’s through these experiences that you connect with the locals and find different ways to support them. You could buy them a fan or water tank for their house, buy their kids new school shoes, top up their electricity, simple things like that which would cost us no more than $50, but would mean the world to someone who has a low and unpredictable income. Find out what it is they need, something practical, and go from there. This is how almost all of the families I sponsor have come about. It doesn’t always have to be a cash handout. Often, the most simple gestures are more than enough.

Any advice for those of us who would like to start a business and not for profit? 

In regards to starting a business, my biggest tip would be to just go for it. I umm’ed and ahh’ed about whether or not to give it a go, and I ended up annoying myself with how often I would talk about doing something but never following through with it. Make sure you put a lot of time and effort into finding a trusted supplier with quality products, and if you aren’t happy with their service then don’t be afraid to move on and try someone else. Also something I wish I knew when starting out was to not overdo it with the initial order of stock. I went way over the top and ordered 10 of everything, when I probably could have ordered 1 of everything and been fine! As for starting a not for profit, I will let you know once I have worked it out hehe 

Thank you Liv for sharing an honest outlook on the realities of life for so many living in Indonesia and how Gypsy and Rye is supporting the community.

If anyone would like to know more about the orphanage tourism industry and the negative effects these places and well meaning volunteers have on children, head over to ReThink Orphanages and have a read of the work they do. I’d also like to say thanks to all our beautiful customers. By purchasing from Gypsy and Rye, you are quite literally changing someone’s life. Education is something we take for granted, but it is the key to breaking families in developing countries out of the cycle of poverty, so we will continue to sponsor as many children as possible until my NFP is up and running!

Head over to @gypsyandrye to follow their journey and how  you can purchase beautiful handmade accessories that are ethically sourced and giving back to Indonesian communities.

Find their shop here