The Minimal Co. started as an e-commerce site offering quality zero waste products and is now a gorgeous brick and mortar located in Wellington, New Zealand. Founder and owner Bridget Feierabend is on a mission to make zero waste and sustainable living more accessible. She agreed to answer some questions and let us take a peek behind the scenes of her successful low waste shop. 👀
Tell us a little bit about The Minimal Co. - what inspired you to open the shop?
Making moves towards reducing my waste, I found it difficult to find products that fit my aesthetic and my core values. People said you couldn’t be minimal and also sustainable. Back then, in New Zealand, sustainability was associated much more with being a hippie.
I saw a gap in the market for a clean, minimalistic approach to sustainability and I wanted to offer the kind of products that even a person not looking for sustainable products would want to use.
Starting with a core range of products made in-house, using formulations I had been using myself for years, I started my e-commerce store in early 2019.
What are your thoughts on sourcing products from abroad?
When sourcing for my shop, I found that a lot of eco stores only sold NZ made products, which meant they often sold the same thing and lacked variety. I started to look at other products to sell and quickly settled on the fact that I needed to sell the best in class. Giving customers an alternative product from a brand I really believed in would be the best thing for me.
I reached out to all my friends overseas I was directed to No Tox Life, being told “once you start using these products you won’t go back!” It was soon after that I became the first No Tox Life stockist in New Zealand! My friend was right, I will never go back.
New Zealand is a small island country and while it does have a robust manufacturing sector, there are high costs to doing business in this country and many goods are imported for consumption. The US now supplies 10% of the annual total imports to NZ.
Even though No Tox Life isn't manufactured on the islands of NZ, they are designing compact, concentrated, and low impact products that can be shipped in bulk with a minimal carbon footprint. Plus the end of life involves no plastic packaging. It makes me so happy that I can spread the word on all these amazing products.
How has it gone with COVID and your business?
Working a full-time job as a Project Manager while running The Minimal Co. made for a crazy first year! After being open for 10 months, we moved into a flagship store in my home community in Mt Victoria, Wellington. This happened just before the Covid-19 pandemic sent us into an 8-week nationwide lockdown. Luckily, due to that full-time job, and the support of our amazing community, we made it through the lockdown and we continue to expand our little business even through the craziness of 2020!
What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone curious about a zero-waste lifestyle but nervous to take the plunge?
The best piece of advice I was ever given was: don’t strive for perfection. You will make mistakes, you won’t be perfect - not today or tomorrow, maybe ever! I know I’m not, and I dedicate a pretty big chunk of my life towards aiming for it. The thing to remember is that every change no matter how small is a step in the right direction so it's better to be imperfectly zero waste, than not try at all.
Start small, with a change that’s easy for you. For me, the easiest changes were ones I didn’t need to think about often. Switching to a wooden dish brush, compostable dishcloths, and the DISH BLOCK®. These were things that needed to be purchased infrequently so it was easy to stick to the swap. The easy swap motivated me to make changes in other areas of my life, areas that took a bit more mental effort to stick with.
Give us your top zero waste hack.
Find your local libraries and borrow instead of buying. The traditional book library, tool libraries, kitchen appliance libraries, and even birthday party libraries are sprouting up around the world. As we move into smaller homes and become even more conscious of waste, these libraries are amazing ways to not have endless things used only once a year and then hidden in a closet - but also not go without. Many are free if you live in that community, or run on a deposit system. If there isn’t one in your community, why not start one?
What is your favorite No Tox Life product?
It’s hard to name just one, but I think it would have to be the ONYX Detoxifying Charcoal Cleansing Bar. I have struggled with acne for as long as I can remember, even going on medication for it on and off over the years. I felt like I had tried everything, I had spent hundreds of dollars on products that just didn’t work. Thinking to myself, well if nothing works, I may as well use something that’s zero waste, I started using the ONYX Cleansing Bar and I couldn’t believe it, my skin cleared up in a few weeks and a year later, I have never had better skin!
- Bridget Feierabend, founder The Minimal Co.
Thank you Bridget for taking us behind the scenes of your beautiful shop and telling us more about how you got started!
More about The Minimal Co.
Not only does Bridget sell a beautifully curated selection of zero waste and sustainable products, but she has also teamed up with Trees For The Future and pledged to plant one tree per order (and five per overseas order!). As of July 2020, she has donated the funds to plant 5,000 trees!
See her website here.