Eco Entrepreneur Q&A: Celeste Robertson and Sarah Scott

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Have you ever stopped to consider just how many synthetic chemicals are residing in your home alongside you?

These chemicals are in the brightly coloured cleaning products under your kitchen sink, in the air freshener you may have plugged into the wall and in the multitude of personal care products in your bathroom. Dozens of chemicals are also in our furniture, carpets, wall paint, clothing, and even our food.

There is a growing awareness that this heady combination of chemicals may not be doing great things for our health, with endocrine disrupting chemicals in particular linked to respiratory problems, metabolic issues, diabetes and obesity.

Savvy consumers though have already started to turn to brands and products that offer more natural ingredients and are free from toxic chemicals.

Given many of us are time poor, and deciphering the gobbledygook of what’s printed on a product’s label is beyond our expertise, finding an online store that’s already separated the high tox from the lox tox is invaluable.

Long-time friends, Celeste Robertson and Sarah Scott run the Natural Supply Co, an online store offering natural, cruelty-free and low tox beauty, skincare and lifestyle products.

Both of the women are mothers (Celeste has a three-year old son, Charlie and Sarah is mum to six-year old daughter, Leila) and are equally committed to leading sustainable lifestyles.

Not only does the Natural Supply Co stock many zero waste and plastic-free products, the business limits and reuses packaging wherever possible, and both Celeste and Sarah avoids plastic use in their own homes.

I spoke with the two busy entrepreneurs about why using low tox products is crucial for our health, found out what their favourite natural products are, and got their take on why so many mums seem to be championing the zero waste movement.

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Tell us about the early days of Natural Supply Co. What was your motivation for launching the online store?

Celeste: I actually founded Natural Supply Co in 2014 with our fabulous friend, Catherine Brooks. She has multiple scleroris and was researching living a more natural and low tox lifestyle to help manage her symptoms.

Cath was horrified to discover how many toxins were in nail polish, so she asked me to start a low tox nail polish online store with her. I knew we needed to have a broader niche than that, and so Natural Supply Co began.

I had been the Sales and Marketing Manager at Adore Beauty for five years previously, so I knew how to manage an online store, plan promotions and build relationships with brands. We had the site up and running within weeks of discussing the initial concept, and it launched the day after Cam and I got home from our honeymoon!

Sarah joined us in the business in July 2015. Cath is a busy lawyer in Melbourne with two young kids, so she made the difficult decision to leave Natural Supply Co about 18 months ago to focus on her work and family. We’re all still very close and Cath has become a fab supporter of us as a customer, sending NSC corporate gifts to clients. They always go down a treat!

You only stock low tox beauty products… My experience has been that when people discover how harmful a lot of the chemicals in mainstream beauty brands are, they either swap out all these products immediately (that was me!) or they shrug and continue to use what they’ve always used. Why do you think this dichotomy exists?

Celeste: I think that everyone likes to think that what they do, or how they think, is right. However, I also believe that when you know better, you do better.

So honestly, I don’t know how people can be aware of the effects chemicals in mainstream products can have, and ignore them! Unless it’s that old-fashioned way of thinking that, “Well I’ve used these products forever and nothing has happened to me, so it must be fine”.

Sarah: I think people can also feel like there is a sense of quackery involved in natural products, or that they may not get the same results without the chemicals.

We don’t believe that at all; natural ingredients can be just as effective. Celeste and I love the continual learning curve in researching the power of nature.

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What are some of your own favourite natural, low tox products?

This is always such a tricky question for us to answer – we choose our products so carefully, we genuinely love them all! But if we HAVE to choose…

Celeste: Frank Green Ceramic Coffee Cup. I love this, because my coffee stays hot longer and it’s stainless steel on the outside but ceramic on the inside – so there is no taste interference.

Eye of Horus Dual Brow Perfect. My brows are so gappy from over-plucking in my teens. So upsetting!! This is the absolute best brow product I’ve tried; easy to use, works a treat and looks natural.

Botanicals by Luxe Hyaluronic Serum. This is a beautifully hydrating serum that everyone should use. I apply it morning and night under my moisturizer and it’s made such a difference to my skin; no more dry patches, and it feels soft and lovely. I am hooked.

Sarah: Babs Bicarb-Free Natural Deodorant. This is the holy grail of natural deodorants in my eyes. Being bicarb free means it is ideal for sensitive skin. I’m not one of those people who mildly glows after exercise, I sweat like a racehorse and this is the one deodorant I’ve found that really works to control odour naturally.

Ever Eco Nesting Containers. I love this set of stainless steel food containers with silicone lids in cute pastel colours. Perfect for packing snacks to take to work or the park.

Golden Grind Turmeric and Mint Teabags. This warming and detoxifying herbal tea is part of my morning ritual. Turmeric has super anti-inflammatory powers but can taste pungent on its own so the mint keeps things nice and fresh. These teabags are biodegradable too so I feel virtuous inside and out!

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NSO is committed to providing plastic-free alternatives to consumers. What are some of the ways you try to limit your plastic use in your own life?

Celeste: This is something I take really seriously, and try and improve on all the time.

Aside from using a reusable coffee cup, produce bags, shopping bags and Who Gives a Crap toilet paper, I’m in the process of going completely plastic-free in my pantry.

I’ve been saving up all the glass jars we’ve used; empty mustard jars, pickle jars, honey jars, etc, used my trust label maker to name them all, and now I go to the bulk food stores in Geelong once or twice a week to replenish the pantry items we need.

I’ve also started taking my own containers to the butchers and deli at a local grocer, so I can say “no” to single-use plastics there. It feels great!

Sarah: I’m following in Celeste’s footsteps as she’s inspired me to make my pantry plastic-free, too. We try and get all of our fruit and veggies from the local green grocer to avoid everything being wrapped in plastic like at the supermarket.

It’s crazy how much unnecessary packaging there is when you start becoming aware of it.

Would you agree that it’s largely young people and mothers who are currently championing leading a sustainable lifestyle? Why do you think this is?

Celeste: I think younger people are more open to seeing the world how it is today; they’re not stuck in old-fashioned ways of thinking like the generation above us can be.

In my opinion, mothers think so much more about the planet that we will be leaving to our kids, and their kids – we worry about it more, and want to do our bit to try and make sure they will have a future.

Sarah: Yes, absolutely, although my husband Chris [Sarah is married to Geelong Cats coach Chris Scott] is also into it. We have chickens, a worm farm and compost all our food scraps in a closed loop composter. He loves being able to teach our daughter Leila about sustainability and the environment.

What are your hopes for Natural Supply Co moving forward?

Celeste: Global domination! [Laughs] No, not really. We’d love to see the business grow so that we can continue spreading our message and helping to educate people on how easy it is to make simple changes. These changes will help to protect the environment.

Sarah: We hope that in the future we might also have a retail store, so we can interact with more of our customers in person and keep doing what we love, together.

Thanks for your time, Celeste and Sarah!