Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Frances under the microscope

This is the chance you have all been waiting for... Frances reveals all in an exclusive interview! She goes behind the scenes at Eureco and answers all the questions we have been dying to ask. Like; what's with the bamboo?!

Why did you start Eureco?

Eureco is my second company and evolved out of my first, Moral Fibre Australia, which I began in 2006. The original seed was planted during a casual conversation with a friend. I was complaining about being bored and frustrated in my job and she simply suggested I start my own thing. I had always dreamed of running my own company ‘one day’ but had assumed I needed to be older and more experienced. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that being young meant I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why not start now? So I did.

Why bamboo towels?

I know. Bamboo towels seem like a strange place to start, but the decision to start with bamboo towels was not a ‘bolt from the blue’. It was the result of about six months spent researching all kinds of possibilities, options and opportunities.

I have always been passionate about textiles. Growing up, I was always involved in textile related activities. Everything from designing and sewing my own clothes, to felting, to cross stitching to just loitering in fabric and haberdashery stores. In fact, I can often still be found loitering in such stores.

At first, I figured I’d probably just start making things myself. Maybe bags or cushions or toys or something and sell them at the markets. But realising that market stalls mean lots of early mornings, it wasn’t long before I abandoned that idea!

Then off the back of another casual conversation, I started researching linen bath towels (friction towels). I had heard they were big in Europe but generally unavailable in Australia at that point. I had samples from manufacturers in Ireland, UK, Lithuania, Poland and Finland sent to me. I wondered whether there was a market for such towels in Australia?

While I was researching the flax towels I came across an article forecasting major European homewares trends. It mentioned that bamboo towels were just emerging into the market and were tipped as the next big thing! I had never heard of bamboo towels and I had certainly never seen any in Australia, so I wanted to know more. I found out that there were none being manufactured in Australia, so I contacted mills from all over the world including Turkey, Japan, China, UK and Belgium requesting samples of their products. I tested the towels and loved them!

After evaluating all of the samples, I decided upon the Belgian collection for a whole range of reasons. The quality of their towels was absolutely outstanding - far superior to any of the other collections I looked at. Their sizing was generous and more appropriate for the Australian market (towels out of Asia are usually somewhat smaller and thinner). The colours were really contemporary, trend driven and I was confident I could put together a great colour story that would suit the unique sensibilities of Australian consumers. The Belgians were easy to deal with and their staff were well trained, working in safe, ethical conditions and paid fair wages. There was less of a language barrier, they were efficient answering my questions and I felt a good relationship could be developed. Finally, they agreed to offer me the exclusive rights to distribute their collections within the Australian and New Zealand markets. What more could I ask for?

So, after a total of almost six months research, I had found a collection and a supplier I was happy with. I brought out a small shipment of towels at first and the rest is history.

Who has helped and inspired you?

There have been so many people, starting with my own parents who ran their own businesses while I was a child. I have had some incredibly inspiring and encouraging bosses and colleagues that I’ve met at various workplaces. I’ve worked almost exclusively for small companies which has given me broad experiences, versatile skills and best of all, great access to other entrepreneurial types! I continue to meet inspiring people every day. Importantly, my retailers inspire me as they are all people running their own businesses too!

What qualifications or experience did you have which helped?

Probably the best experience I had was while working for a medium sized textile company who were distributors and wholesalers of European textile collections. They also designed and manufactured their own collections ‘in house’. I wasn’t always happy there, but it was fabulous experience. I was heavily involved in the ‘nerdy’ technical specifications of the products, so I developed a solid grounding in the nitty-gritty technical aspects of the fabrics.

Just by keeping my eyes and ears open I learned lots about how the textile industry works. From design and manufacture through to importing, warehousing, marketing and wholesaling.

I also studied business at uni and worked in finance which was useful, but honestly, my last four years learning ‘on the job’ has been absolutely invaluable. I’ve learned so much just by getting stuck in and working it out as I go along.

What stops you from throwing in the towel and giving up during those frustrating days of running your business?

Ha-Ha. Throwing in the towel. Nice one!

I remind myself of the alternative - working for someone else! If I’m feeling flat it usually means I need to have another good look at my goals. If I’m bored, I take myself off for a short course in something interesting and vaguely related to get re-motivated. I have done some really great short courses. Learning something new always seems to get me fired up again.

I did a fantastic and nerdy course at the CSIRO in Geelong on technical textile production, which I loved. I’ve studied importing and exporting, social media for business and even learned about manufacturing in China - which was very scary.

How do you keep a work/life balance?

I’m not sure I really do. This is an area I struggle with, and like any person running a small business it can be hard to break away from the job.

  • Creating a distinction in terms of physical space was important for me. So literally moving my office out of home and taking on company premises was a major breakthrough.
  • I try to leave my laptop at the office and not take it home with me. This doesn’t always work. I can still access most things on my mobile and I have been known to escape from social events and return to my office at ridiculous times of night. I’m trying to be better...
  • Working long hours (often alone) can be lonely so I make an effort to catch up with my friends even when things are busy.
  • Organised sport plays an important role in keeping me sane and healthy. I find there is more incentive for me to leave the office and turn up to soccer training if I’m worried about letting the team down. I find playing sport is also a great way to relieve stress.

What was a major obstacle you have faced and how did you deal with it?

Having traded as Moral Fibre for roughly two years, I became aware of another company operating in the same market segment, running a similar operation and also calling themselves Moral Fibre. We even had a number of clients in common! While they didn’t own the Moral Fibre company or business name, they had trademarked the term Moral Fibre, which I had neglected to do. I thought that owning the company and business names was enough to prevent another person trading under the name. Turns out that’s not quite true! There’s my inexperience showing!

I got legal representation and began proceedings to oppose the registration for their trademark. The whole process was extremely stressful (not to mention expensive) and took up huge amounts of my energy. My confidence, enthusiasm and motivation really took a knock and I found it hard to continue working to build a brand which I felt was compromised in the market.

About six months into the process I had a dream where I was staring at my company balance sheet. My expenses had been completely blown out by legal fees (crippling my little company) and I couldn’t stand the look of the figure on the report. The total expense of the opposition proceedings was enough money to launch another collection and I knew that I would rather see that figure sitting on the company balance sheet as an asset.

From there it was easy enough to decide not to continue to oppose the other ‘Moral Fibre’. I’d let them have the name. I’d change my company name and rebrand for a tiny fraction of the expense and I’d launch a brand new collection!

That’s where Eureco Began. Ultimately, it’s been such an opportunity and a blessing. I was forced to stop, re-assess, re-evaluate and really examine the strengths and weaknesses of my operation. I began Eureco applying all the knowledge and learning I’d gained by running Moral Fibre.

Eureco is a stronger, smarter and more profitable entity that I’m really proud I’ve built.

Can you tell me what lessons you’ve learned over the years?

The biggest lesson I learned came out of the trade mark debacle. I wanted to oppose the trade marking of Moral Fibre purely on principle - because I knew I would win. It was about ego and pride and coming out on top. But I learned that sometimes it is smarter to tuck your ego away and make tough decisions that are good for the balance sheet and ultimately, good for the business.

I also developed an understanding of the distinction between Frances the person and Eureco/Moral Fibre the business. Grasping that Frances and ‘company’ are not one and the same - that Frances will survive and prosper even if her business fails or has to close for some reason - enabled me to gain a more objective and secure perspective. This is a better position to be in when making tough business decisions.

Of course there have been so many other lessons too, like “be nice to people” and “make friends with the people at the post office” but those two are the biggies.

How important is the eco side of business?

Very important! I guess I’ve never really been your typical ‘greenie’, but I’ve grown up as part of a generation of people who first learnt about ‘climate change’ and ‘sustainability’ in primary school. I think as a group we are inherently more conscious of our environment and aware of the limited nature of many of our resources. From very early on, we have been educated to think about our choices and the impact they have on our environment. I also think that I’m part of a generation of young people who, (maybe more than any generation before) are really empowered as individuals and understand their ability to have an impact as a collective.

Working in other fields, I had become aware of just how environmentally unfriendly many textile production processes are. I’d also become aware of just how miserable some of the working conditions within the textile industry can be. I was also conscious of how much waste was created and all these things bothered me.

Sustainable design and ethical manufacture were of primary importance to me when I began sourcing my products. Quality and aesthetic appeal are also key considerations. I’m stubborn and I refuse to launch any product that doesn’t meet all of my requirements.

This firm adherence to my values can make things difficult. When looking for new collections, I often come across gorgeous collections with little or no genuine eco-credentials, or conversely, seriously green eco-collections that are not great quality or worst of all, ugly.

But, I just will not compromise. All Eureco collections are sustainably made, ethically manufactured, exceptional quality and gorgeous. Moving forward I hope to find more and more collections which meet all my requirements. Failing that, it is very possible that in future I will move to design and manufacture our own private label collections.

What’s coming up for Eureco?

A new organic cotton collection is on the way, which I’m really excited about. I’m in the process of reorganising the warehouse to make space for the new stock. Then the next thing on the calendar is the Organic Expo in August at the Sydney Convention Centre, where we will be exhibiting, and hopefully making many new friends! Further ahead, we are looking to expand into overseas markets in 2011. Eureco already has the rights to distribute in the New Zealand and American markets so it’s just a matter of capitalising on that opportunity.

What advice would you give another person starting their own business?

Just get out there and do it, start knocking on doors and make it happen. Don’t be afraid of approaching people, as the vast majority of people want to help you and want to see you succeed. Ask them lots of questions, be annoying! Surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you and in business. They can answer your questions and you can benefit from their experience. Find an unofficial mentor – they may not even realise they’re mentoring you! My mum has probably been my biggest mentor.

Typical day in the life

First thing is get a coffee, fortunately there is a great café next to my house. Then check the post box. When I arrive at the office I check emails and respond to anything urgent. As my Belgian suppliers obviously operate during the night, if there is any communication from them I need to respond promptly. The only other consistent part of my day is packing up and sending off orders.

After that is where the typical part ends, as there is no average day in the life - every day is completely different. Some days I will be packing orders, other days I will be formulating media plans with Megan, I can be working on the advertising and marketing one day, then sourcing and looking for new collections the next. What else? I could be pricing collections, talking to my retailers, searching for new retailers, updating the website, going on a business trip to research other regions, keeping on top of the accounts, checking inventory levels, writing blogs... One of the joys of running your own business is that every day is completely different, as you have to wear many different hats.

What are you...

Reading? I’m reading three books at once. In my handbag is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s nerdy it’s all about statistics - I’m in heaven and I love it. The other two books are on my bedside table, they are the Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, and The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter.

Eating? Ice cream is my vice.

Buying? Morning coffees, sensible shoes (I very often buy very silly shoes), a winter coat.

Cooking? I’ve recently perfected my vegie stir-fry, its pretty good. Cooking is a great stress reliever.

Conversing about? The trials and tribulations of my soccer team, current affairs.

Watching? The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Weeds, Mad Men, True Blood.

Listening to? Triple J and the 702 Midnight Quiz.

Collecting? Lame dinner party jokes, vintage scrabble boards and a lot of scarves. I suppose one could call that a collection (or just a compulsion).

Passionate about? Nerdy stuff that’s too nerdy to mention.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Eureco recognised for World Environment Day!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Farming future fibres

-Life Cycle of Bamboo Series-

The environmental sustainability of bamboo fibre originates at the farming level, as this is where bamboo's self-sustainable characteristics best exemplify its' limited effect on the environment.

Bamboo as a commercial crop doesn’t need much help – it thrives and regenerates naturally without the use of pesticides, and with few farming inputs. A natural bio agent found in the bamboo plant is known as ‘bamboo kun’ and acts as a kind of self protecting barrier, which is what keeps the plant healthy without needing any polluting agricultural chemicals. Bamboo kun is bound to the plant at the molecular level and is the same substance which gives finished bamboo products their antibacterial properties. Bamboo also grows incredibly rapidly, and as a commercial crop will start to yield within 3-5 years of planting. Bamboo will also grow on slopes where nothing else is viable.

Unlike cotton, Bamboo does not require much water to grow, and can be grown in dry conditions thus making it a more sustainable crop. It needs about one quarter of the amount of water that cotton does.

As bamboo regenerates naturally, it doesn’t need replanting after it has been harvested, making it an easily renewable resource. This also saves heavy replanting machinery from over working the soil.

The structure of bamboo itself is also good for maintaining the soil it grows in, due to its large and deep root system being thickly clumped balls, which helps keep soil together and prevent erosion. Bamboo’s self sufficiency continues as any debris that falls from a growing clump of bamboo also fertilises the ground at the base of the bamboo culms and feeds it, eventually fertilising the soil as well.

Bamboo is a grass, not a tree. The significance of this is seen in its harvesting, as it is cut, not uprooted, further preventing soil erosion. Also, as a grass it absorbs far more carbon dioxide and emits more oxygen than a tree does, limiting the commercial affects on climate change.

Currently bamboo is not grown commercially in Australia, except as a food product. As there are no commercial plantations outside of China, there are inevitably carbon emissions associated with the shipping and transport. Temporarily we unfortunately need to take this environmental impact into account, and of course we would love to source locally if we could.

Bamboo fibre that makes Eureco’s towels originates from a company in China called Bambrotex. The raw material is grown in non-polluted regions in Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces. Bambrotex produces bamboo fibre strictly in adherence with international standards ISO9000 and ISO 14000.

Our manufacturing partner Santens is committed to ensuring their supply partners, including Bambrotex employ their staff in ethical and fair labour conditions, including farmers working in the bamboo crops.

Life Cycle of Bamboo Series

This is the first in a series of Eureco blogs about the life cycle of a bamboo towel, from cradle to grave... okay that’s a horrible expression, more like how does a plant like bamboo end up as a soft absorbent towel, and what is the real impact on the environment?

The point of all this is to draw attention to the real issues behind the sustainability of our towels. We don't want you to just take our word for it, we are going to show you so you can decide for yourself.

Remember the blog about The Story Of Stuff? Well this will hopefully be kind of like that, minus the cool cartoons (I can't draw).

As this is obviously a long process with many parts, it will be broken down into more easily digestible chunks as a series of blogs. Along the way I’ll also add in some comparative articles about cotton and organic cotton, so we can see what the real differences are.

The stages of the life cycle goes roughly like this; extraction (farming), production, distribution, consumption, disposal. These are the same categories as used by "The Story Of Stuff" but will be adapted to suit our purposes along the way.

We at Eureco are not going to claim that we're always perfect, or that our products are completely without environmental impact. But what we do hope to show you is that our towels are a step in the right direction for the environment. We want you to be informed about what we are doing, so that you can make your own decisions, because ultimately you have to be satisfied that what you use as a consumer is green by your own definition. Hopefully we will give you enough information to enable you to make that judgment for yourself.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Celebrate World Environment Day!

Today is World Environment Day! Celebrate with Eureco and get 20% off!

WED in 2010 aims to be the biggest day for environmental action around the world. It has been going since 5th June 1972, and is the UN's way of promoting environmental change. The theme this year is: Many Species. One Planet. One Future. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gives this message on WED:

"Biodiversity, the incredible variety of life on Earth that sustains us, is in peril. Species are becoming extinct at the fastest rate ever recorded. Most of these extinctions are tied to human activities that are polluting and depleting water resources, changing and degrading habitats and altering the global climate. From frogs to gorillas, from huge plants to tiny insects, thousands of species are in jeopardy.

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day, “Many Species. One Planet. One Future”, echoes the call of the International Year of Biodiversity to stop this mass extinction and raise awareness about the vital importance of the millions of species that inhabit our planet’s soils, forests, oceans, coral reefs and mountains. Our health, well-being and sustainable future depend on this intricate, delicate web of ecosystems and life."

-UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon

Through decades of WED celebrations, hundreds of thousands of people from countries all over the world have been mobilised for individual and organized environmental action, and in 2010 Eureco is one of them!

We are offering 20% off all full priced products this weekend only to celebrate World Environment Day! Simply enter ENVIRODAY in the discount/coupon field at the checkout to get your saving! Check out our range here.

We also love how you can Easily Green Your Daily Routine!

Please note WED promotion ends Monday, and discount code only valid if entered as appears above. Happy shopping!

Easily Green Your Daily Routine

The lovely people at World Environment Day 2010 have passed on these daily changes you can make to your life which will help the environment. Don't forget to use your bamboo towel!

WED is about taking action to be a part of the solution. And the Daily do something Tips are a great start.

We can all do our part to protect the planet by using less and acting more. Going green is not as difficult as you might think. Here we walk you through 30 easy ways to green your daily routine, from the moment you hit snooze on your solar-powered alarm clock to the point when you crawl into your eco-washed, organic cotton sheets.

Make your WED commitment today. But don’t stop at today and don’t stop here. Try to incorporate all of these into your life as a matter of routine. Get others to do so the same. And get involved!


  • Plant a tree! Help achieve UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign target of planting seven billion trees – one for every person on the planet – by the end of this year! Three billion are planted. Five billion are pledged. On every continent in the world trees can be planted in June, so start your efforts on WED.
  • Find needy homes or charitable organizations for things that you no longer need or want rather than throwing it away.



  • It would seem to go without saying, but many of us forget that we can save water in simple ways like not letting the tap run while shaving, washing your face, or brushing your teeth.
  • Insulating your water heater will help save valuable energy, and you can go the extra mile by installing showerheads with a low flow in your bathrooms for bathing purposes to help save water. You can also put a timer on your heaters to save power.
  • Using an electric razor or hand razor with replaceable blades instead of disposable razors goes a long way to cutting back on waste. And plant a tree.
  • Use towels for drying your face and hands instead of tissues that are used and thrown away. Also, hang your towels to dry so that they can be reused several times. You are after all clean when you use them! [Eureco reckons bamboo towels are even better, check them out here!]
  • Juice or yoghurt lovers can do their bit by buying juice in concentrates and yoghurt in reusable containers instead of single serving packages.
  • Many of us like to leaf through the paper as we munch on breakfast, but consider reading the dailies in communal spaces like the office or coffee shops. However, if you prefer to have your own copy, make sure you recycle!
  • When packing your lunch, opt for reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping the food with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
  • When deciding what you're going to eat for the day, go vegan once a week. Many people may not know this, but raising animals for food generates a considerable amount of greenhouse gases!
  • As you leave the house, don’t forget to switch off all the lights and appliances at the wall unit (if you have this feature) and unplug chargers as they continue to consume even if they are not charging; saving energy helps reduce air pollution.


  • Don’t go anywhere without your cloth bag so you can just say no to plastic whenever you shop.
  • Radical as it may seem, in today’s “the easier the better” society, the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is by avoiding driving altogether. Power down and Instead try biking, walking, carpooling, public transport or an occasional telecommute.
  • If you have no other choice than to drive to work, look for the most fuel- efficient car model for your next purchase and keep your tyres inflated to the correct pressure.
  • If you’re one of the lucky few blessed with clear stretches of road on your way to work, use cruise control, as it saves fuel and also helps you maintain a constant speed.
  • If you’re among the majority of drivers who spend their mornings stuck in traffic, consider turning your engine off if you will be idling for long periods of time. And plant a tree.
  • For those who suffer from road rage, remember that aggressive driving lowers your mileage, so if you want to save on fuel and save the planet while you’re at it, accelerate gradually-- something to keep that in mind the next time that bad driver cuts you off! Just count to 10 and say the planet needs me!


  • Do you have a morning hot drink routine? Using a washable mug is an environmentally-friendly alternative to non-biodegradable styrofoam or plastic cups.
  • Leave a cup and reusable bottle for water at work to eliminate buying drinks, which get served in plastic cups, or bottled water. 80% of plastic bottles are recyclable but only 20% are actually recycled.
  • When you need a pad for lists and messages, turn over an old document and write on the back of that instead.
  • If there isn’t an office recycling system, start one yourself! Recycling our trash actually contributes to reducing global warming emissions. And it is estimated that 75% of what is thrown in the trash could actually be recycled, though currently only 25% is.
  • When you must have a paper copy, make sure you default your printer option to use both sides. This is an easy tree-saver!
  • Most computer accessories like ink cartridges and CDs and DVDs are made of materials that could be reused. Computer cords and speakers are fairly standardized, meaning they can be used for a variety of computer models and makes.
  • Lower your office’s carbon footprint by seeing computers, monitors, printers, copiers, speakers and other business equipment to their energy saving feature and turning them off at the end of the day. And plant a tree!
  • Turning off all unnecessary lights, especially in unused offices and conference rooms is an easy way to save energy.
  • If you’re in search of something to personalize your workspace, look no further than the humble houseplant. Houseplants are good for the environment because they remove quantities of pollutants present in the air.


  • In the summer/warmer months, consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air-conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home. While you’re at it, in winter, lower your thermostat and put on a jumper. In summer, increase it and wear lighter clothes, you will also save money!
  • Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat as it senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air-conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • When cooking dinner, match the size of the pan to the size of the heating element to lower energy wastage.
  • When you are feeling at your laziest, don’t throw clean clothes in the hamper to avoid hanging them up! Wear jeans more than once…
  • When you wash, use only eco-friendly products in your home. It’s best for you and the environment! And did we mention plant a tree!
Info courtesy of WED