Enterprising students to wash plastic away
Five Taradale High School Year12 students are on a quest to clean up the environment — one shower at a time. The group is participating in the annual nationwide YES (Young Enterprise Scheme) programme, which gives young entrepreneurs, as part of their level two economics course, the opportunity to start and run their own businesses. The five students have formed the company Piper Body and discovered a gap in the market, coming up with a product which could change the way we all wash ourselves. “The idea began with something all of our team members value — environmental sustainability. We wanted to create a product that would make it easier and more convenient for consumers to switch to eco alternatives. We initially considered making powdered body wash and shampoo, but then considered the idea down to just a body wash tablet made from a compact powder,” says company CEO Libby Syms. The name Piper Body is significant, derived from the scientific name for kawakawa. “Kawakawa is a key ingredient in our body wash tablets. It has many skin benefits such as reducing inflammation and soothing various skin conditions. It also holds important cultural significance as it is used in traditional Maori medicine/rongoa.” The short- and long-term goals for Piper Body, also comprising comms and marketing director Holly Taylor, chief financial officer Alex Graney, production director Matthew Morrison and chief admin officer Tyrone Cooper, are ambitious and reflect their passion for the environment. “Our slogan, ‘Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata’ perfectly captures our core mission as a business. It translates to ‘care for the land, care for the people.’ We value the environment and of course there is a great connection between the health of the earth and the health of people.” Libby says every year one billion empty body wash bottles enter our garbage stream. “This issue urged us to devise a more environmentally alternative body wash. Our short-term goal as a business is to influence the way that people view body wash. And long term we want to help reduce the amount of plastic wastage created from body wash.” Changing people’s minds and habits is one of the challenges the group is trying to address. “Environmental concern is very prevalent in today’s world. However, we have realised that many people aren’t interested in making sacrifices and stepping outside their comfort zone or everyday habits to benefit the earth. Piper Body body wash tablets are designed to make the switch to an eco alternative body wash easy for everyone.” Libby says there is currently no other waterless body wash tablets on the market in New Zealand. “We aim to market our product to those who are environmentally conscious, we hope to someday see our product being sold in local eco stores.” With production of the body wash tablets still in its very early stages, the team has approached Auckland-based Pauling Industries, manufacturer of products including skincare and liquid cosmetics, personal care and toiletries. “Pauling Industries have been extremely helpful and open to work with us on this project. They loved our concept and put forward some great ideas.” As with all great ideas, carrying them through can be another matter, with one main stumbling block being funds. “Our idea is still an idea. We have not begun the manufacturing process yet as we do not currently hold the funds to do so. Our water activated body wash tablets require professional manufacturing as we simply do not have access to the technology to do this ourselves. Unfortunately, this means that it is going to be quite a dear process. We are undergoing fundraising to meet our manufacturing goals,” Libby says. A raffle is under way to try to raise the much-needed collateral to get the show on the road. The group has been collecting donations from local businesses to create a raffle and generate some funds. “We are aiming to create two hampers from the donations we receive. These businesses are all environmentally and socially sustainable in order to keep our values at heart. We are hoping to find many other businesses who wish to support us in any way with this.” Libby says tickets will most likely be sold through social media, word of mouth and “standing at busy locations”. Piper Body has consulted Taradale High School economics teacher Toni Dunstan and received mentorship from Jenny Brown, an experienced consultant for beginning businesses. When they have enough funds and a manufacturing deal, Libby says production will begin. And that’s also when the marketing will get under way. “Social media does play a large role in the marketing of our product as it is an effective way of getting our message of environmental sustainability across. We have confidence that this product can change the way Kiwis generate plastic waste from body wash. Our Instagram page @piperbodynz is where we share updates on our business with fellow environmentally conscious people and those who are interested in our journey.” Libby says like every other aspect of owning a business, the production process is tough. To contact Piper Body, email email@example.com or find them on social media platforms like Instagram under @piperbodynz.