Not long ago, no-one had heard of a keep cup, we were drinking everything through a plastic straw, and electric cars were reserved for the Jetsons.

But not ecostore founders Malcolm and Melanie Rands. They've been green since long before it was mainstream. Their cleaning and body product brand is mostly known as the minimalist, eco-friendly alternative you can find in supermarkets, but it has much humbler roots.

In 1993, the Rands' were living in an "eco-village" in Northland's Matapouri Bay. Malcolm says it took eight years of living there before he came up with the idea of ecostore.

"We needed to have products that were pure enough, and un-polluting enough that they could be used in our permaculture eco-village."


They started selling by mail order, with a hand-written note accompanying every order. Melanie says they were grateful to people who believed in what they were doing.

"In those days it was hardcore greenies only that got on board, and I wanted to express my gratitude to them for supporting us and believing in what we were doing". Soon, they'd outgrown that system, moving into their Freemans Bay flagship store a few years later.

But it was getting into supermarkets in 2002 that was the real turning point. And now, it's a multi-million dollar business, with ecostore products stocked in Australia and all over Asia.  But the heart of the business remains the same: a total belief in sustainability.

Melanie says she's glad it's such a common concept now. "When we started it out, it wasn't, and I remember really struggling with it because sustainability was at the core of our business. It was kind of lonely at the beginning but it's been so great to see how important it was now."

To find out more about the Rands' business journey, listen to their episode of HP Business Class here.