Advocating sustainability: EcoQueen founders on making a positive impact

EcoQueen founders Kirubaleni Arul Dass (left) and Priyaa Simmi are determined to make a positive impact by educating consumers on sustainable choices. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

Priyaa Simmi and Kirubaleni Arul Dass have always yearned to create meaningful change in the world and contribute to a larger cause.

Kirubaleni, a partner in a medical devices consultancy, teamed up with Priyaa, a social entrepreneur and former beauty queen with experience running small businesses, to launch EcoQueen in 2022.

The passion project which started out as a marketplace for eco-conscious beauty, personal care and lifestyle products began as a response to the duo’s desire for a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recognising the confusion surrounding terms like vegan, organic and zero waste, the founders decided to collaborate with ethical entrepreneurs who set high standards in environmental responsibility.

Inspired by the love for animals and environmental education, the platform curates products that prioritise health, the environment and animal welfare.

By having strict vetting of brands, consumers are provided with worry-free, ethical options.

What made you decide to establish this business?

Priyaa: I have been using my platform to create awareness for multiple causes, mainly on the importance of financial independence, especially for women; the importance of giving back to society; and our role in saving the planet.

After my participation in the Plastic Free July 2020 challenge and learning the importance of giving back to the environment, I thought of developing a conscious platform to create awareness and also to help local female entrepreneurs to develop their sustainable businesses.

Kirubaleni: I’ve always wanted to set something up where I can make a change and contribute to a bigger cause.

I once worked with an organisation that helps multinational and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands look into their supply chain and to adhere to their sustainability commitments to the environment and people. This really opened my eyes to all the other products I was consuming too. It was about that time that Priyaa suggested we work together to set up a platform for conscious products; I thought let’s do it.Priyaa (left) and Kirubaleni want to provide awareness on conscious and sustainable options. — YAP CHEE HONG/The StarPriyaa (left) and Kirubaleni want to provide awareness on conscious and sustainable options. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

She has great business acumen and by using her Mrs Malaysia platform and following, we both aim for a positive goal.

What makes for sustainable brands?

Kirubaleni: Ingredients must be ethically sourced, natural and good for the planet and people. For supply chain and manufacturing, pay attention to their product supply chains and ensure products are made with awareness of fair labour and impact on climate change.

For packaging, look at recyclability and Earth-friendly materials.

Also, focus on brands that demonstrate a commitment to quality, sustainability and safety through accreditation and certification.

Finally, look at their values, how they are making an impact in the community through philanthropy, job opportunities, eco-consciousness and a deeper commitment to a healthier planet and people.

How do you hope to contribute in benefiting the environment in the long run?

Priyaa: We want to be able to encourage more brands to improve their practices and to be more conscious in their business.

We feel that if every business makes a little change, they will still be able to contribute and reduce waste or help the environment in many ways.

It’s not about being perfect but being true and committed to their practices even if they are small changes.

Reducing waste and being more aware of the use and the impact we leave behind is a good start for all businesses.

When it comes to beauty and skincare products, do you think Malaysians in general have a lot of awareness on the topic of conscious and sustainable options?

Kirubaleni: It’s a bit of both. But there is certainly a huge audience who are comfortable with mainstream and high street brands – although they are not fully aware of the ingredients or how the products are made.

There are many misconceptions, greenwashing, and so on, and we feel that it’s our role to help consumers understand the jargons and how to select products that are really what they say they are.

We still get many people telling us that beauty products and skincare that are sustainable are expensive and many are doubtful of the quality of local products. This is not true and this is what we are also championing.

Priyaa: With efforts and awareness that have been made, I can say Malaysians are changing their habits and are more conscious now in adopting sustainable practices. However, more education is needed at all levels.

Hopefully the climate issues we are facing now are an eye opener for us to realise that we need to care more about what we consume and how and what we are contributing to our health, animals and the environment.

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