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Would you use a service like this?

(19 Posts)
BusPuppy Sun 19-Feb-17 18:20:18

Hello, I am wondering if it would be feasible to start a small business doing something I already do at home (because it's the only way I can do this!) - making all natural, all green household/personal products. Most of these things are impossible to find commercially to MY requirements (harmless even if the kids eat them, completely free of anything with any safety doubts), or are so expensive they are impractical for me to buy (I am a single parent working part time, I don't have much money).

I make all-purpose cleaner, toilet cleaner, glass cleaner, washing detergent, toothpaste and shampoo at home in order to avoid the questionable chemicals commonly used in such products, and also so that all our 'chemical' waste is biodegradable and harmless once released into the environment. I also personally find that there have been health benefits to this approach (I'm not saying all people would find this though!).

These products have a very short shelf life because many preservatives are ones I want to avoid (hence why even many 'natural' products don't make the grade here) or are impractical on my budget. However, we have been using these products for years now, my children use them, and other family members have started using some of them too, and I am confident they are safe for X weeks at least (varies on product, they're a bit like food really). As things stand, I do not have a budget for formally testing shelf life through a lab.

Would you or anyone you know be interested in a subscription based service to supply products like these, with a monthly/fortnightly/weekly delivery of your selected products to your door (like having a milk delivery). An initial deposit would be required along side the cost of the product itself as all products are supplied in reusable glass/ceramic/silicon packaging (which can be cleaned and steam-sterilised between uses!).

I am based in East Sussex and would only be able to deliver in this area, but if it was any good I could sell nationwide through a website if people were prepared to foot the postage cost (they could be delivered in minimal packaging to be transferred to more desirable containers).

Thoughts please? Could this be a workable business idea?? It's something I am a bit passionate about and people I have talked to have shown a surprising amount of interest (I tend to keep my 'product' habits a secret in case people think less of me!)

unlimiteddilutingjuice Sun 19-Feb-17 18:29:16

"These products have a very short shelf life"

I think this might be a problem. There was an episode of dragons den (where I get my entire knowledge of the business world!) Where the dragons were very skeptical of a sports drink without preservatives. Its very inconvenient for retailers and this would push the ultimate retail price up. I think with cleaning products there's an even bigger problem because people will want to keep the products in their cupboards at home for substantial amounts of time.
I like to buy cleaning products in large quantities every few months or so, its not the kind of thing I want to buying often in small quantities.

ClashCityRocker Sun 19-Feb-17 18:35:36

I thought people just used vinegar and lemon juice if they wanted natural cleaning products?

I didn't think the testing was optional - I would have thought you'd have to have them tested to be able to sell them. Might be wrong though.

Ihatethedailymail1 Sun 19-Feb-17 18:36:38

You surely would not be allowed to sell anything without testing it. Even people who sell bath bombs and soaps have to have batches tested or use regulated recipes, so cleaning products must surely also be tested . How do you know they are safe? What about insurance also? If someone drank it and sued you?
How can you be confident they are safe if they haven't been tested? Are you a chemist.. A biologist? Any qualifications in this area?

ZippyNeedsFeeding Sun 19-Feb-17 18:37:08

Shampoo and toothpaste would need to follow the rules for cosmetic products just like soap and getting your paperwork in order can be time-consuming and costly. And that's assuming that toothpaste qualifies as a cosmetic product and doesn't require more extensive testing. Insurance could be a real problem too. Before you think about how much demand there would be, I think you would need to consider if it's even going to be possible from a legal point of view.
I suspect that your major problem would be making sure that you followed all the relevant regulations.

ClashCityRocker Sun 19-Feb-17 18:39:09

Also you need to think about what you're charging if you're delivering them.
What would be the minimum order?
How big would your initial delivery radius be?
How much will it cost for you to deliver? Driving twenty miles to drop off a ten quid order is going to reduce any money made.

homebythesea Sun 19-Feb-17 18:40:01

I came on to mention insurance too. These products may not have any side effects for you but there may be for others so you will need cover. And I'd bet my house that any insurer will require you to test the products scientifically so they can assess the risk.

And I only buy cleaning products about 3 times a year because they don't run out that quickly (except laundry stuff) so the short shelf life would be the killer for me

BusPuppy Sun 19-Feb-17 19:47:29

Ok, looks like this would be a non-starter then, thank you for your opinions smile

littledinaco Sun 19-Feb-17 20:49:42

OP, if you're not looking at going into business, would you mind sharing how you make the things you've listed (or pm me).

Sorry if that's cheeky, I am really interested in the products but I couldn't afford to buy as a regular delivery. If it was set up as a website then I would defiantly look to order things as and when - don't know if that helps with your business plan!

ZippyNeedsFeeding Sun 19-Feb-17 21:04:42

Perhaps there is scope for a business teaching others, or selling the supplies needed?

ClashCityRocker Sun 19-Feb-17 21:09:30

Yes, I think there is definitely enough interest in natural cleaning products out there for there to be a way to make it into a viable business, but I suspect your current idea has too many hurdles to be doable on a cottage industry scale.

What about starting your own cleaning blog? Alright, it's not likely to make any money but may branch into other avenues which you can explore.

PhoenixJasmine Sun 19-Feb-17 21:14:23

I'd go to a workshop on how to make this stuff though.

PhoenixJasmine Sun 19-Feb-17 21:16:03

Website selling supplies might work too (ingredients, bottles, cute cleaning caddies to store bottles in, 'starter kits' etc)

littledinaco Sun 19-Feb-17 21:18:06

Having a blog / YouTube videos on how to make and then a website supplying ingredients/supplies like Phoenix suggests may be the way to go.

Ihatethedailymail1 Sun 19-Feb-17 21:34:02

Yes, those are Goodman ideas! videos and a blog.

Ihatethedailymail1 Sun 19-Feb-17 21:34:20

Good, even!

Cousinit Sun 19-Feb-17 21:42:26

I wouldn't write it off as a non-starter just yet, OP smile. I think you have a good idea that's worth further investigation. I live in New Zealand where a well-known journalist now successfully sells products like you are proposing. She also supplies recipes on her site. Have a look -

olderthanyouthink Sun 19-Feb-17 23:45:07

Just out of interest where's the line?

You can write a blog post with recipes to make stuff?
You can sell recipes to make stuff?
You can sell a kit to make stuff to your recipe?
You can run courses showing people how to make stuff?
You can't sell the stuff premixed though?

Even if the "stuff" is toothpaste/shampoo/cosmetic or cleaning liquid?

BusPuppy Mon 20-Feb-17 19:59:34

Wow, maybe not as much of a non-starter as I thought from the initial responses then. Thanks for all the ideas about where I might go with this after all.

There are lots of blogs and websites around on this topic already, which seems like a lot of competition to me - that's where I get my recipes from. However, on many blog sites extensive digging and comparing is required so perhaps a very direct 'catalogue' style website of recipes with recipe-specific q&a's about ingredients/variations might work and stand out from the crowd?

Most of them have affiliate links to the ingredients but I go to wherever I can find the best quality the cheapest! I could certainly resell the ingredients though, or offer them as pre-measured 'make your own' kits that are affordable and simple - I love that idea.

There's definitely a learning curve to making these things, and I have built up a bit of experience as to what will work for various jobs, but I don't have much self-confidence for passing that knowledge on. If I did a website and people showed an interest perhaps I could offer a session on a particular product and then people could try out a few recipes on the day and have samples and recipe sheets to take away. That seems like a very scary prospect though!

You've really given me some things to think about, and a bit of hope that I can turn my interest into an income. Thank you so much for your advice and ideas :D

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