Best Sustainable Entrepreneurs 2019
As we embrace a culture of care and respect, we want to celebrate the new wave of smart entrepreneurs who don’t settle for ‘business as usual’. From Berlin to New York, Helsinki to London we present this year’s movers and shakers who are bringing forth real positive changes for the benefit of all
YASOU (or ‘your good health’ in Greek) is Theodora Ntovas’s passion, and producing the range has reconnected her with the heritage she rejected in her teen years and which, in midlife, living in Chicago, she began to yearn for.
Before developing YASOU, Ntovas was an art director and worked for ten years in the visual communications industry. But despite career success, and an eye for niche market opportunities, something was lacking. Not least the luxe wellness beauty products she sought but could not find on the shelves of department stores where she shopped. At the same time, Ntovas felt a desire to return to the Greek village she now remembered so fondly from her youth. She wanted to find the place where her grandparents were buried, and booked a trip home to Greece.
Ntovas was shopping at a local farmers’ market near Corinth when she came across a beeswax product that contained ten essential oils harvested from the plants and flowers of the region. Inspiration struck: why not import and repackage the product, and sell it under the Fairtrade symbol? Early attempts failed: every time Ntovas received a shipment, it was compromised – the product didn’t meet quality standards.
Ntovas was heartbroken. At that point her husband Ray suggested she put all her ideas together and create her own line, at home in the US. He offered to be her first investor, and YASOU was born.
YASOU’s mission is to change what luxe means in today’s green beauty era by uniting old world quality with new world science, bringing the customer luxe wellness in a Greek-inspired skincare line.
Products include a hydrating, firming body cream (with a choice of essential oils or no fragrance) which contains beeswax, vitamin E, honey extract, aloe vera and calendula, among other ingredients. For the essential oils cream, the added ingredients are lavender, cypress and mandarin oils.
There’s also a plumping, 100% natural lip balm containing botanical hyaluronic acid, a hand cream and face creams for day and night with cell-renewing properties. The distinctive black and white packaging is fully recyclable.
YASOU is natural (products contain certified-organic ingredients), plant-derived, vegan, gluten-free, unisex and cruelty-free (Leaping Bunny certified). The range is water-based, and contains YASOU’s exclusive Calityl-O Complex, giving twice the amount of oelic acid, an ingredient that is known to help trap water in the skin.
Made in Finland by forward-thinking female entrepreneur Heli Kurjanen, this small but mighty menstrual cup is making a difference all over the world. High-quality, long-lasting and easy to use, Lunette is a vegan, BPA-free product. Every time someone chooses Lunette, they are supporting period positivity and locally driven, impactful women’s rights movements on a global scale.
Tired of bleeding into tampons and pads, Kurjanen decided to buy a menstrual cup online, only to find that the products she tried didn’t work for her. But the freedom and flexibility of a menstrual cup flicked a light on in her brain. Why not make her own menstrual cup, one that actually worked? With a new design rooted in safety, ease and comfort (and compatible with menstruating people of every age, shape, size and childbearing stage), Kurjanen created Lunette.
The Lunette Menstrual Cup is a bell-shaped cup that facilitates a comfortable, safe, odourless and eco-friendly period for up to twelve hours a day. It’s also reusable and lasts several years, meaning periods don’t have to be associated with money, time and stress.
The Lune Group Oy Ltd company, established in 2005, is a family-owned, female-led company. Its products are sold in over 45 countries through retailers, and the online store reaches into 100 countries. Lune Group’s HQ is located in Juupajoki, Finland, with a subsidiary in the US.
Lunette’s mission is to change attitudes about periods: nobody should feel ashamed of them, nobody should miss out on opportunities – like going to school – because of them. Lunette is proud to be part of the changing conversation around periods.
Christine Rochlitz established the vegan luxury fashion accessories label LUCKYNELLY in 2012 in Berlin. Rochlitz studied fashion design at the University of Applied Science and Arts in Bielefeld, Germany, nurturing her passion for fashion design, new trends and creating exclusive products. She finds her inspiration in nature – flowers, plants and animals – and in the colours and shapes around her, capturing ideas and impressions with her camera.
The brand name was created by combining the name of Rochlitz’ bearded collie, Nelly, and her lionhead rabbit, Lucky, who were the muses for the brand. The brand itself is based on the decision to use only cruelty-free vegan materials, renouncing the use of any kind of animal skin, fur, silk or wool.
LUCKYNELLY combines high-end luxury with sustainability. The brand demonstrates how extraordinarily beautiful animal-free, eco-friendly products can be, and without using plastics in any part of their manufacture.
The SS19 collection includes a range of bags and phone cases made using eco palm fibres, malai (coconut ‘leather’), high-quality cork fabric and 100% linen linings. Eco-friendly glue is used, and all metal fittings are hypoallergenic.
LUCKYNELLY is represented by PETA and is part of Berlin (Sustainable) Fashion Week. The brand has featured in British Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar UK, Elle UK and Cosmopolitan UK, and in international vegan magazines and blogs.
SARAH BROOKS & SUSI LENNOX
THE YES YES COMPANY
In 2003, YES founders Sarah Brooks and Susi Lennox realised there was a huge gap in the market for intimacy products that were designed to be side-effect-free, gentle and non-irritating. They set out to ‘change the world from the inside’ by realising a new concept: a certified-organic, natural and body-safe range of personal lubricants, vaginal moisturisers and intimate washes.
It’s understood that approximately 60% of what goes on the skin can get into the bloodstream. That’s why, for Brooks and Lennox, making the purest products possible for use on the delicate mucosal membranes was important. Designed to be hypoallergenic, YES products are free from silicone, parabens, glycerine, hormones and known skin irritants. Essentially, YES is also pH-matched to the intimate environment, to help protect against irritation and infections.
YES lubricants are formulated from plant extracts, to give the most natural-feeling lubrication possible. The ingredients have long-established track records as excellent skin foods, and Soil Association certified-organic status guarantees that YES products are pure, natural and unadulterated.
The YES YES Company’s love for planet earth is reflected in everything they do – creating products that are not just pleasant to use and effective, but are also kind to the environment and respectful of all life: human health, animals and wildlife.
As a result of the success of their formulations, multi-award-winning YES products are sold into health, pleasure and medical markets in over 93 countries worldwide.
After a 21-year career in the investment banking sector based in London, New York and Tokyo, Bola Lafe left to set up Opus Innovations in 2011, a healthcare products company focused on launching innovative and sustainable solutions to everyday problems that make a difference to people, animals and the planet.
Opus Innovations won Gatwick Diamond New Business of the Year award in 2014 for the development and sale of its revolutionary, multi-purpose and award-winning eco-sanitiser AQUAINT.
Then in May 2018, having learnt that the vast majority of wet wipes are essentially one of the worst kinds of single-use plastic, in just six months Lafe launched his own brand of wipes, Happy Planet, which are 100% biodegradable, home-compostable and plastic-free and contain 99.9% purified water. They are reputedly the purest biodegradable wipes on the market, and are made from FSC certified wood pulp and cellulose plant fibres. Earlier this year, they were named Best New Mother and Baby Product at the Natural and Organic Europe Awards 2019.
Lafe’s passion for sustainability education have recently led him to write two children’s books about plastic pollution, as he believes we need to educate our children from a young age about our responsibilities to the planet.
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