This week Nicely Made in China (NMiC) goes green with Innovasians, a company which provides other companies with green solutions to their problems. Founded by Cape Town-born Lizette Smook, Innovasians has been around for just 4 years. Despite a busy schedule, Lizette found time for a chat with NMiC.
Lizette, what made you create Innovasians?
In the current frame of mind many brands are faced with the question ‘what are we doing to ‘greenify’ our brand?’ Consultants tell companies they should improve their carbon footprint but rarely tell them how. Innovasians provides the « how ».
How does that work?
With my clients, I assess where they’d like to start, how much they want to spend and what marketing value they want to achieve. Then they are faced with a choice: do they want to go bio-degradable, oxo-degradable or bio-degradable AND compostable. (Bio-degradable means that in 12-24 months and in a certain environment their products will degrade into nothing.) Of course, for each of these solutions there is a premium: +15% in the case of bio-degradable, +5% for oxo and +20% for bio + compostable.
Which brings us to the next question: what types of product does your company sell?
At Innovasians we have several business pillars. One is rice husk (or rice hulls), the patent for which is owned by Mogus Siu. This is a totally new product – it has only been used as we use it for a couple of years – to make dinnerware, computer mice…. currently we are working on designer coffee mugs and bento boxes amongst other things.
We also sell eco-towels, which is another patented technology. The towels are knitted instead of woven. The advantage is double as there are no snags and they dry 30% faster than conventional towels. These 2 qualities lengthen the eco-towels’ lifespan and they look exactly like other towels. Some notable hotel chains are already very interested.
E-leather is another product – made of real leather – those bits of the cow’s hide which industry in general does not use, we use to make shoes! As a matter of interest, Puma make a football shoe out of it, and Marks & Spencer produce shoes for children! We also make laptop bags from it.
Have a look at our website to view our other eco- products.
How much of these products are made in China, and why choose China to make those products?
90% of our products are made in China- we work with 22 factories there. There are a few reasons why we chose China: there’s a perception that China only copies but while I was working there before I started Innovasians, I could see that there was an industrial revolution happening – they were developing and progressing. The second reason is that I encountered a lot of green technology in China, technology that you’d think was only made in the US or in Japan.
Also, 4 years ago, the Global Organic Textile standards approval did not exist. It’s a pretty tough standard to get and it’s rated highly in the world. Today 5 or 6 factories in China have it!
What’s the future, is it only an organic-chic fad?
I’m educating my global customer base about what’s happening in China. Chinese manufacturing has been doing its homework over the last 3 years which means that in the future, Innovasians will be able to have rice husk and bagasse products made everywhere they grow rice and bamboo. The Chinese people will be instrumental in that technology transfer.