A Cuppa with Wendyl
Posted on 11/08/14 10:38 PM
Being an avid follower of Wendyl and her natural cleaning products over the past two years, I was stoked to have a cup of tea with her last week. I, of course, couldn’t help but ask loads of questions about her business, products, and views on being a mum. So why not make yourself of cup of tea and enjoy what Wendyl had to say.
Jodie "How long have you been in business?"
Wendyl "We started in 2009 so this is our fourth … no wait, our fifth year. We were initially called Wendyls Green Goddess, because at the time my friend Paul Holmes was launching his Olive Oil product and he told me, 'You’ve gotta put your name on it!' He had spent thousands of dollars on marketing advice, so I did, which was great, because it has really helped to establish our brand.""Recently we’ve shortened the brand name to Wendyls, which was Daniels idea. We’ve done this to simplify the brand, because we want to spread into other markets. At the moment lots of women my age and older follow us, but Daniel felt the shorter version would help us reach a younger market."
Daniel is Wendyls son and business manager – and I note a particularly lovely and helpful man!
Jodie "What do you love about your business?"
Wendyl "It’s always been about the message for me. I love that it’s got such a strong and loyal following. It serves a purpose. I think that if at the end of the day, you’ve spent all day spreading a message that’s going to help, then it seems like a good idea. Having come from my main career in magazines and tabloid journalism, I ended up feeling like it was a little bit worthless, so I love that it’s got a really good message."
Jodie "What are your key business goals/aims...other than making money?
Wendyl "Well, we’ve never made any money. To be honest it’s never been about the money, for us it’s been about seeing if we could build a brand, which was the message. Because my husband and I are both writers we’ve had no experience in business, we started out under our house, we did it all ourselves for a while."
Jodie "What is your favourite product in your baby range and why?"
Wendyl "Definitely the baby wipes solution, just because I love how that came out of my discovery, similar to you I guess, which I wrote about it in Mothers Little Helper, that there was that horrible chemical in the supermarket baby wipes. So the product came out of something that was really awful and I wanted to offer an alternative to mothers, I love it. You do have to be careful as there is no preservative in them though, so it's best not to wet too many wipes at a time."
Mothers Little Helper is one of Wendyls books. We will be selling Wendyls Baby Wipes Solution and her book at the Baby Show and adding to our online store very soon.
Jodie "When you’re designing you products and deciding what ingredients are going in them, how do you make sure they are safe?"
Wendyl "The thing is, if we use all natural ingredients they’re going to be safe. The only thing that could go wrong is if there was some kind of chemical reaction, and we test them all for about 6 months. What I normally do when I’m creating a new product is test them on my family first. Then we make a draft version without proper labels which our customers try and give us feedback, so usually if there’s something not quite right we find out. When you’re using baking soda and vinegar it’s not harmful so I don’t need a chemist or scientist to tell me that."
Jodie "What requirements do you have when choosing your ingredients?"
Wendyl "They have to be natural, I would never consider putting anything in them that wasn’t completely natural. For example, our mouth-wash should have alcohol in it but all alcohol is known to cause mouth cancer which is why the commercial ones don’t have it anymore. So I need the vodka to spread the essential oils around but because it’s not safe I have to find something else. As long as it’s not a chemical, people say to me 'But salt is a chemical?' Yes, ok fine... But it’s got to be something that has come out of the earth as that substance, not something that has then been changed around."
"Everything is based on old recipes which is why I haven’t copyrighted any of them, they’re not mine, I found most of them in old, old books. I have an amazing library full of books dating back to the 1700’s, old house wife manuals, domestic science things, so they’re all recipes that existed anyway, that I have tested in a modern environment."
"My most successful product has been the cream cleanser that is like a jif, all it has in it is cream of tartar, baking soda and a bit of soap. It’s magic, that’s from a recipe book from the 1840’s, it was fine back then and has proven to be safe now. As long as I’m not putting acids, preservatives, fragrance or parabens and the like then it’s fine. It’s no more harmful than the ingredients you use to make a cake."
Jodie "If you could communicate three things to every new mum or mum-to-be in NZ what would you want to tell them?"
Wendyl "It’s funny because my niece has just had a baby and I’m talking to her every day."
1. "My first thing is just to take it easy. I wrote in the beginning of Mothers Little Helper that I think this generation has got it tougher than any, they have access to so much advice via the internet, google, friends, relatives, and everyone has an opinion. Just trust your instincts and do what is right for you. Don’t try and be the perfect mum, which I think is a real trap for new mums, they want to do everything perfectly."
2. "Secondly, avoid chemicals, even in pregnancy. Read up on it, up to 80% of what you put on your body ends up in your blood stream. Be chemically aware, because wee babies are so sensitive to anything in the environment."
3. "And the third thing is to enjoy it. I suffered with post natal depression with Daniel and I know that it can be tough. It’s a big change for a lot of women. I wish I’d been able to work out how to enjoy it more. I always thought having babies was quite hard work - which it is - and I think that’s why I worked all my life, I couldn’t wait to go back to work. I think if you can work out how to enjoy having a baby and being a mum that’s the main thing, whatever that takes."