In support of Plastic Free July, we’re showcasing a few of our small business customers who are embracing sustainability as part of their business model.
A beauty brand with a mission
Sienna Byron Bay makes beautiful, non-toxic nail polish and is seen as the gold standard in the industry. It has the cleanest formula on the market, as well as being vegan and cruelty free. This gorgeous polish has been seen on everyone from Mia Freedman and Susan Carland to well-known LA luminaries such as Djuna Bel and Erin Foster. We talk to the Founder, Danielle Egan, about how sustainability underpins every aspect of the business, and how she is hoping to inspire others to walk softly on our planet.
From humble beginnings
Like most entrepreneurs, Danielle has had several other businesses prioritising sustainable practices prior to launching Sienna. Looking for a new direction, she trained as a nail technician envisaging herself running a mobile nail bar. However, her focus soon shifted after she started looking into the ingredients of conventional polishes.
“I couldn’t believe some of the ingredients like Formaldehyde, Toluene and DBP were standard in conventional polishes. Incredible really when there are well-known health or allergy risks associated with them. It felt like formulas were still in the dark ages and animal testing was rife.”
“I knew there must be a better way so I started researching alternative formulas and that eventually became Sienna. I made the first bottles in my lounge at home.”
Sustainable and ethical from the get-go
Danielle’s love and respect for the natural world comes from a life of hiking and travelling. This in turn has translated into a lifelong commitment to doing the right thing by both people and planet. The team at Sienna puts sustainability at the centre of everything they do. Sustainable thinking starts at the design phase and the choices made here influence the whole sourcing and manufacturing process.
“I wanted Sienna to be a completely ethical product from the start. There is already so much stuff in the world. I didn’t want to make something to make a quick dollar that’ll end up in a landfill. I had an internal wheel of ethical standards to meet and if I couldn’t make it happen, then I wasn’t interested in launching anything,” says Danielle.
The ‘wheel’ on which Sienna is based includes the polish being vegan and cruelty free. The warehouse and head office also uses renewable energy and packaging is 100% recyclable resulting in low carbon production. The supply chain is traceable to ensure raw ingredients come from sources that are child labour free, community partnerships and fair wages for all employees. Danielle admits that she works “day and night” to make sure Sienna meets the high standards she has set for her business. The commitment to sustainability is central to Danielle’s own life and Sienna Byron Bay is a natural extension of that.
“We are always looking for ways to do things better. Ethical and sustainable ideas are mainstream now and people expect businesses to engage with that. Which is great! The time has come for sustainable ideas. There’s a real opportunity now for businesses to be a force for good, and we’re so proud to be a part of that,” she adds.
People expect companies to be ethical and sustainable
Even a glance at social media these days will tell you that the ‘sustainable imperative’ is becoming increasingly important to people. Brands that display a bit of ‘soul’ and can show they are really committed to sustainable and ethical practices are experiencing a real breakthrough. And let’s face it, there is an undeniable feel-good factor in getting to know the people behind the products we use every day. It also feels good to support a small business doing big things.
“Third-party auditors like BCorp accredit us as part of the dialogue with our customers. The trust our customers put in us to be ethical and do the right thing is so important to us, and one way we can show them that is by doing the work and becoming certified.”
We are living in a time where consumers are more empowered with information than ever before, and are able to chat directly with brands and hold them to account. “Rightly so,” says Danielle. It’s safe to say that transparency and honesty are key values that shape the direction of the business. Danielle is incredibly relatable and makes herself accessible via the brand’s social media platforms. Here you can find her answering questions from customers and taking requests for colours.
Small steps can make a big difference
Sienna might be a small business at the moment but the team certainly has big ideas for the future.
“Ultimately, we want to inspire other businesses and show people that you can be true to your values and be successful. If you had told me five years ago that I would be employing five people, I wouldn’t have believed it. However, it shows there is a real demand for products and companies who prioritise the environment,” shares Danielle.
“There are so many people creating amazing alternatives that are ethical, sustainable and challenging the status quo. If we all take small steps together, we can make a real difference.”
Clickhere to read more about Sienna Byron Bay’s values, and you can find Xero’s commitment to the environment at xero.com/socialimpact.