Australian environmentalist and trichologist, Peter Francis created the wildly successful, organically certified and ecologically responsible kids range, eco.kid in 2002. He speaks to us about lice bombs and green beginnings.
When did the idea for eco.kid come about?
In 2002 as my eldest daughter turned 3 years old, I found myself concerned with the lack of real organic products on the market and the health effects of using synthetic products designed for adults on my children. I saw that there was a great need for children’s products that were real, formulated for their hair, scalp and skin needs and based on natural, safe ingredients. I decided to create my own kids product range, a range I could stand behind, that would express my values through its products and ethics.
Why did you feel there was a gap in the market for eco.kid?
There are so many personal care brands targeting babies and toddlers. Many of these products are certified organic or marketed as natural or chemical free which motivates mums and dads to buy them. Unfortunately, once kids turn three or four years of age, there are no brands or personal care products targeting them until they turn thirteen years of age or so. We affectionately call this market the “tweens” market, not toddlers and not yet teenagers but “in-between”. Unfortunately in the past, a parent who is motivated to use only certified organic baby and toddler personal care is assumedly expected to relinquish this personal commitment and to move to synthetic products to use on their child as they become a tween, as there has been no certified organic brand to satisfy the needs of this age group. Eco.kid allows this parent to continue on the path of certified organic, synthetic free personal care for their tween.
How did you go about creating your first eco.kid product?
My first product was Lice Bomb. This was at the request of my wife who had been a Director of Kindergarten Schools for 18 years. She was very concerned about the enormous number of cases of head lice infestations coming through the Kindergarten and that parents were increasingly using nasty chemicals on their three and four year olds. She urged me to create a safe, non-toxic alternative treatment from essential oils that she could recommend to parents. This led on to the idea that head lice should be as preventable as tooth decay or sunburn and that every child (or a Kindergarten Teacher) should have safe non-toxic personal care products for daily use that would prevent then from ever contracting head lice. The Green Range in eco.kid therefore had the foundation of each product rich in essential oils that smelt nice to us but not nice to lice. The layering effect of these essential oils throughout the shampoo, conditioner, daily leave-in tonic and hair finishing waxes helps create a lethal challenge to the normal breeding cycle of head lice and consequently the result is pure, healthy, certified organic hair care with the added bonus that your kids are a no-go zone for head lice.
Eco.kid packaging is super cute and very unique!
Yes, we love the way kids are always fascinated when watching other kids, so we wanted to engage them through fun quirky images that reflect in their own experiences. The old saying that “a picture paints a thousand words” was really important to us as many of our target market are only just beginning to read.
How do you juggle family life with such a thriving business?
Much of my day is spent in the salon as my Lab and office are situated just above one of my salons. The salon is a very welcoming space for my kids so they generally catch the school bus to the salon every day after school and hang around until their mum is ready to bring take them home after she finishes work.
Tell us a little bit about the product range
It’s Australian made and crafted using Australian ingredients. All products are free from artificial preservatives, synthetics, colourings, artificial fragrances and sulphates. We called the range eco.kid because that’s what it is; ecologically responsible, kid-friendly products. The range includes everything from shampoo and conditioner to hair wax and clay to bubble bath, body lotion and insect repellant. One of the most popular products in the range is Daily Tonic. It’s a certified organic leave-in conditioner enriched with moisturising Aloe Vera, Passionfruit and Buriti oils and lovingly crafted with mushroom based bio-polymers that add strength and shine to young hair, nourishing away knots and tangles.
What kind of feedback have you had from people using eco.kid?
We often get thanked by parents for creating such kid friendly products and particularly by frustrated parents who have struggled a lot with their children getting a repeat case of head lice. They are often full of praise about eco.kid’s ability to keep their kids head lice free!
eco.kid is available from The Change Initiative, Favourite Things and online from Dubai Babies and Mumz World. Visit www.ecokid.com.au for more information.