Peter Courtney-Fitch heads to Hove to speak to the couple behind the organic company Greenfrog and finds out how a ‘find’ in an Indian market transformed their life. Pictures by Liz Pearce
Normally a visit from the in-laws would conjure up images of dread for most families. Having to put on a front of appreciation and being anything but natural.
You just hope that the in-laws, or ‘outlaws’ as an acquaintance once said, just mind their own business.
Yet how many of us can credit them with inspiring a start of a business? Well, this is exactly what happened to Nick Bridger, founder of the Hove company Greenfrog, when his father-in-law came to visit while he was living and working in India.
“In 2008, my father-in-law who was visiting came with us to a food and household goods market in Delhi,” he explains.
“Through the smells, sights and colours he noticed something he recognised from his home town of Paris – soapnuts.
“He explained he had been using soapnuts for his laundry for years, as they were cheap, natural and worked. As an agricultural economist, with a strong interest in the environment, I was interested immediately.”
Nick delved deeper into this soapnut revelation and sourced a reliable, high quality supplier so he could introduce soapnuts into the family home.
It was soon apparent the natural cleaning properties of nature’s detergent, saponin, which was abundant in soapnuts, made it very effective for laundry cleaning.
However, it was Nick’s wife Julie, also an economist, who hit upon the idea of developing other cleaners from the raw product. Soon the range included a liquid soap, washing-up liquid and an all-purpose natural cleaner.
Product integrity is at the heart of the business and all the soap products are environmentally-friendly, anti-bacterial and made from 100 per cent biodegradable plants and minerals.
All are based on soapnuts, extracted from the pulp of Sapindus Mukorossi soapberries that have grown wild for centuries in the Himalayan foothills.
However, if all the products are derived from soapnuts, then why call the business Greenfrog?
“When we returned to the UK to live in eco-friendly Brighton, I began working for the Environment Agency,” Nick explains.
“I became aware of the importance of water in the environment, and of our affection for frogs in the UK who depend on good clean natural water to survive.
“Plus, our products are ‘green’ so it made sense to combine nature and a natural product hence the name Greenfrog.”
As with any new business there are numerous challenges that arise, and ensuring stock coming from the Himalayas to Brighton to meet demand has been a tricky nut to crack.
However, with a streamlined process in place the family has found a balance that works for them, their suppliers and customers.
Greenfrog has put the glamour back into grime, by using carefully blended essential oils such as geranium and neroli oil, aloe vera and honey in the product mix.
This means your clean home will never again have the lingering smell of detergent, but rather the luxurious scent of a spa.
“Most people comment on the fresh smell of our products. They also exclude bleach or other harsh chemicals, meaning they are safe for all the family.
“Having two young children of our own, safety and cleanliness qualities are important. All products are pH neutral so are gentle on the skin and less likely to irritate skin conditions. They are in essence naturally better cleaning,” says Nick.
It is not just the public that have championed Greenfrog; the industry has recognised its All-Purpose Natural Cleaner, making it a finalist in the competitive category of ‘Best New Natural Living and Home Product’ at The Natural and Organic Awards Europe 2013.
No mean feat considering the pair didn’t push for nominations.
Although the family business is gathering a loyal following on the festival circuit as well as rave reviews from various caterers and hoteliers, local stockists are very important.
So is the policy of acting on customer feedback.
“We have been listening to our customers and will be expanding on the kitchen collection and introducing personal hygiene lines with different essential oil blends, whilst ensuring the same powerful cleaning properties,” explains Nick.
“Although you can get Greenfrog products in good natural health shops like Infinity, we expect to increase retail coverage and show this with an interactive shop and map on our website. You will be seeing more Greenfrog in your stores soon.”
For more information on Greenfrog, please visit www.greenfrogsoap.co.uk or contact Nick
on 07970 198346 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Look out for the Greenfrog range in
health stores near you (visit www.greenfrogsoap.co.uk to find your nearest) or buy online at
ethicallyessential.coop or www.naturehealthbox.co.uk