I came across RAW Co. on Instagram and followed the business after scrolling through their posts and reading a few captions.  I then visited Cupboard Love in Richmond Hill in Port Elizabeth and saw that RAW Co. products were stocked there.  I snapped a photo of a label on one of the products and meant to reach out to the business owner.

That to-do kept getting pushed down my list.  A few weeks passed and I received a mail from Katherine who owns RAW Co. and she wanted to find out if she could be listed on this website.

I was so thrilled to hear from her because I’m in love with her brand and am so impressed with her products and the ethos behind her business.  So I had to learn more about the story behind the brand.

Q:  What was your motivation to start this business?

A:  After the birth of my son in late 2016, I felt I needed to make a drastic lifestyle change and basically in short I swapped the boring mundane unfulfilling 8 to 5 day job (in the corporate industry) for my valuable time back. I couldn’t carry on and had to find something more creative and fulfilling. So after being an employee for over a decade, I decided to take a leap of faith and I left my full-time job.

Q:  How do you go about sourcing your raw materials/products so that they’re as sustainable as possible?

A:  In 2016 I completed a 4 year part-time logistics diploma whilst still employed. I absolutely love sourcing. All of my textiles are sourced locally and first prize is to have them manufactured here locally too. When it comes to textiles/fabrics I always go for the eco-friendly, sustainable, recycled option such as hemp, bamboo, or recycled cotton etc, and we make sure to follow environmentally friendly, ethical and sustainable practices.

Most of our textiles are in a natural loomstate, so they have not been bleached, or dyed using toxins. At the moment we are about to start dyeing some of our natural textiles using plants & vegetables etc. and we’ll do this by using the by-products / waste that is left over after its been used for its main purpose. For example avo pips dye fabric a beautiful blush pink and onion skins (both brown & red) dye fabric beautiful rust, mustard, purple colours. These will be collected from restaurants that would otherwise normally throw this out as waste. (See closed-loop supply chain)

Q:  How have you designed your production and delivery process to create as little environmental impact as possible?

A:  When shipping I make use of brown cardboard boxes / envelopes that have been recycled or reuse the ones that I receive my raw materials in.

When dealing with suppliers I do request that where ever possible to please not use plastic and anything that is received in plastic gets kept and upcycled. RAW Co. is a small family business that operates from home with occasional outsourcing to people in our locally community, so our environmental footprint is very low.

Q:  What motivates you to keep going?

A:  Its been a hard journey and still is. I’m learning every day and there are many days when I feeling like throwing in the towel and calling it a day, but I couldn’t possibly do that – there is a voice / a drive that says continue and the reason RAW Co. was formed/started was a desire for independence, a sense of freedom, to own my day and to make the most of every day. To get out what I put in. To live a mindful, conscious, and sustainable life. To live a real and authentic lifestyle and to raise my little boy around these values.

Q:  What has running your business taught you?

A:  Its taught me and is still teaching me about the cut-throat world out there, it’s not easy it’s really hard work – but it’s rewarding and fulfilling work for me. I’ve met so many new people on this journey that I would never have met had I stayed in my comfort zone / bubble of full-time employment and learnt soooo much already in such a short space of time.

I’ve also learnt about how cheap imports have negatively affected the textile industry and how many people lost their jobs because of this. It’s also hard for small businesses to find raw materials available in smaller quantities – many businesses do not offer smaller runs / or lower minimum order quantities with regards to raw materials etc. unfortunately – which makes it that much harder. There are people that don’t care to help you but then you find the kindest people that are so helpful because they have been there too or are currently there too.

Q:  What would you like to communicate to the wider community through your business?

A:  I would love for RAW Co. to become a certified B Corp – which focuses on for profit businesses that aim to do good in the world. (see their declaration and link below)

https://bcorporation.net/about-b-corps

Follow Raw Co. on Instagram at @rawco_za and on Facebook. Shop on the website at rawco.co.za.

Hi, we are Eon & Melissa

We are a husband-and-wife team who are parents to a beautiful dachshund called Milo.

We are on a journey towards consciously choosing better options for the products we bring into our home and use in our daily lives.

We are sharing what we learn on this website and blog.

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