Soapnuts at the heart of a growing Winchmore Hill business
How much do you spend on products to clean you, your family, your clothes and your home in a year?
Do you worry about all the chemicals, you are using – the additives, preservatives, bleaches, enzymes, foaming agents etc in the detergents and toiletries that you buy in the supermarket?
If the answer to the questions above is yes, you might be interested in meeting an enterprising young Winchmore Hill couple, who are on a mission to change the way we wash ourselves and our clothes – using nuts!
Meet Socrates and Shashi, who live in Winchmore Hill with their two young sons. Their elder son, now aged 7 was diagnosed with autism as a young child, but also suffers from eczema. (If you google autism & eczema there is some evidence that children born with autism are more likely to suffer from a range of auto-immune disorders, including eczema). The couple tried conventional medical treatments and hyper-allergic products to try to alleviate their son’s distressing symptoms, to little effect. They began to research alternative approaches and a family member suggested using soapnuts instead of conventional detergents to wash their son’s clothes. Within six weeks they had noticed a massive improvement in their son’s condition and were so excited about the results that they decided that they wanted to enable other people to benefit from this simple, inexpensive, very green and natural cleaning agent.
These are soapnuts. They are a member of the Lychee (Sapindus) family and grow in many parts of the world, with warm temperate and tropical climates.
Living Naturally Limited was set up in 2009, to import and develop a range of natural cleaning products based on soapnuts. Shashi has been responsible for developing the range, which now includes soaps, shampoos as well as laundry products; whilst Socrates runs the business. They began by persuading friends and family to try soapnuts and found that they were spreading the word and customers were coming back for more.
When they set up the website in 2010, they found that they were attracting a number of different types of customer. A growing number of people were like Socrates and Shashi, seeking additive free alternatives; for health and ethical reasons; but soapnuts are also appealing to the growing band of people looking for ways of saving money. They are able to claim that soapnuts are the cheapest washing agent available on the market.
For all these reasons the business has grown exponentially over the past three years, so that the couple are now seeking premises (ideally in Winchmore Hill) so that they can take on staff to fulfil the orders, so they are no longer packing boxes, at home from morning to late evening, such is the demand. The move will enable Socrates and Shashi to focus on taking the business to the next level, expanding their retail and online stockists and reaching out to more people with skin conditions who could benefit from using Soapnuts.
It takes just half a dozen soapnut shells, tied in a linen bag, to wash a machine load of clothes. Soapnuts can be reused three times and then can be added to the compost. They have natural anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties and are being tested for their pharmacological benefits for a range of medical conditions.
The soapnuts market is more developed in America and Germany but looks set to expand rapidly in the UK. Whilst Soapnuts is still a small, almost homespun business, the couple’s website is already performing well on Google and they are well positioned to take advantage of growing interest in this humble nut. This is a Wichmore Hill business with massive growth potential, based around a simple but effective proposition that ticks a lot of boxes.
Sceptical? I gave it a try and was completely satisfied with the results, washing the clothes at 40 degrees. Even the money expert Martin Lewis has written about soapnuts, so you’d be nuts not to give it a go!
Do you worry about all the chemicals, you are using – the additives, preservatives, bleaches, enzymes, foaming agents etc in the detergents and toiletries that you buy in the supermarket? If the answer to the questions above is yes, you might be interested in meeting an enterprising young Winchmore Hill couple, who are on a mission to change the way we wash ourselves and our clothes – using nuts!