With a passion for clean living and wellness, Eco Cheeks founder Tanya Roberts is a firm believer that what we put on, in and around our bodies contributes to our overall health. On discovering that chlorine bleach was used to whiten some toilet papers, which can create dioxins (known toxins), she set out to find a safer alternative that was kinder to the planet. With nothing on the market that was 100% free from all types of chlorine bleach, Eco Cheeks was born. Made from responsibly sourced and sustainably farmed bamboo, they provide safer, sustainable options when it comes to everyday disposable products. Here, Tanya talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind her business, the challenges they have overcome along the way, and their hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Leaning that chlorine bleach, one of the most toxic chemicals to humans, was used to whiten toilet paper is what inspired me. After further research into toilet paper, I learnt that studies have shown that chlorine bleach mixed with paper pulp can create dioxins, a known toxin which can cause development issues in children, lead to reproductive problems in adults, damage the immune system, and interfere with hormones. I tried to find an alternative on the market, but there was nothing… so I became a toilet paper entrepreneur and did it myself.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
It all started with lots and lots of learning and researching: business, marketing, manufacturing, logistics – everything was new to me. I listened to many podcasts and audiobooks, did online courses and watched YouTube videos to try and piece it all together – everything from creating the brand’s voice to managing international freight had to be learnt.
It was nearly 12 months of planning and development before receiving our first production of stock, and the learning certainly hasn’t finished. It’s one of the best parts of my every day.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
The biggest breakthrough was finding that there are other crazies out there that also want beige (chemical-free) toilet paper! 😉
I honestly didn’t know how it was going to be received and took a leap of faith. But now, I have the most beautiful, supportive customers who give me so much joy. But over the last year, one of the things that has really signified the need for the removal of all these unnecessary chemicals is the number of reviews and messages I’ve received from customers that are so grateful for a toilet paper that doesn’t cause irritation. I didn’t realise that so many women suffer daily with pain that can be debilitating, so to hear that they have found a solution and that our toilet paper is literally changing lives has been amazing.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
This has been a gradual learning. I started working on Eco Cheeks as a new mum when my little guy was just 3 months old. Back then, he slept more and didn’t move much, so I could do both at the same time. But then that changed and understandably he demanded more of my time. I had to learn to separate the two roles as none of us benefited from me trying to do both, and he and I would just get frustrated. He goes into care a few days now, which gives me dedicated time on the business. Otherwise, he is my priority and I’m very conscious of being as present as possible when he’s with me… but then there is the cleaning…argh!