“Our philosophy is to create profit by being inclusive, by nurturing and taking care of the Earth and the people. And while doing this, we also want to help our farmers, self-help groups, micro-enterprises, and our Earth by offering sustainable packaging, shipping and creating zero-waste, natural and right cleaning products that work!” says Gaurav Mahendru, the Founder of Berry Clean.
Every day, we are surrounded by potentially hazardous chemicals that we can’t see. They are a well-integrated element of our daily ablutions: cleaning, washing, etc. The health risk of the absorption of these chemicals can’t be overlooked. Identifying this large scale problem, the journey to finding a panacea began.
“Cleaning shouldn’t come at the cost of our health, the planet, the workers who are making our cleanser products, Or the water that our farms get. So, we decided to challenge the notion of cleaning, and clean offer products. Through a range of products that are completely natural, biodegradable, zero-waste, and preservative-free,” adds Mahendru.
In conversation with Falguni Chaudhry for the #VoLocal campaign, an initiative by News Aur Chai Media, Gaurav Mehandru shares his innovative entrepreneurial journey about Berry clean, a conscious enterprise that balances the Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit, by offering toxin-free, 100 per cent natural and scientifically backed cleaning products.
The seed of ‘Berry Clean‘ was planted in 2019 with the idea of Gaurav’s close friend Dinesh (now a mentor of Berry Clean), of gradually replacing all their synthetic cleaners with natural cleaners.
Shruti and Abhishek Tanjeja, incubators of Berry Clean and founding members of Earthjust Ecosystems often conducted workshops on the benefits of making natural cleaners. While doing these workshops, they found an intense desire among people to shift to natural cleansers, which was thwarted owing to time constraints on proper research and development to build these cleaners. There was a gap to be filled, and hence the prospects of the idea grew stronger.
The main ingredient of Berry’s product is soapnut (Reetha). Sourcing of this critical raw material from farmers and unorganized, micro-entrepreneurs helped the team to involve and empower Self Help Groups (SHGs), financially disadvantaged groups within the local region.
“We got our products tested at multiple labs. Each batch of ingredients are separately tested. Every product before being launched in the market is tested for 6-12 months in a closed user group,” says Mahendru. We follow robust quality testing SOPs, which are quantified and documented for every batch for all the ingredients, before making the product to ensure that the product that reaches the consumer is uniform and of a high standard.”
With a portfolio of nine products across five categories, they aim to educate their customers about the products and their usage through workshops or seminars. Another key focus is on building a habit – wherein they offer subscription and buy-back options to customers. Word of mouth is the primary medium of marketing for Gaurav’s team. They reach out to their customers usually via hands-on workshops (paid / unpaid), Farmers Markets / Melas / Exhibitions, direct sales, niche Online Marketplaces and speciality Stores (like Zero-waste Stores, etc.).
“The goal is to build a zero-waste circular economy, wherein an ecosystem is created for the lower economic strata to make a sustainable livelihood,” Gaurav further elaborates on his altruistic philosophy.
“We try and source our ingredients directly from farmers, to help increase their revenue. Our other ingredient is fruit peels that we source from small juice vendors. This helps us achieve two objectives – First, it reduces wet waste in our landfills, and second, it becomes an additional source of revenue for them, for what would otherwise have been a waste. We have outsourced parts of our manufacturing to self-help groups, women and youth from low-income backgrounds, and societies that are treating their waste, to 1) Increase their revenue stream and 2) Skill them with the technology and alternate means to create employment for themselves.”
Gaurav further adds, “Even for our packaging, we source sustainable packaging options from bottles to cartons, to a shipping model that focuses on refills (for Delhi NCR) and subscription. We have created a solution, that’s lean, modular, and scalable. That works for all people involved in the value chain from farmers to micro-entrepreneurs to consumers to recyclers”.
When asked about the aftermaths of the pandemic, Gaurav shares the challenges of a broken supply chain, which lead to delay or cancellations of orders. A bigger problem of people shifting back to harsher chemicals came into light. Thus intervention became of utmost importance.
“We took this time to create awareness digitally, for the need for prevention and stronger immunity. Chemical cleaners are good at last-mile measure, but actually, hamper everyone’s health in the long run. Thus, the time is now to think about the right cleaning practices and the right hygiene.”
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