Rachel and Jesse here, Co-Founders of KOOSHOO. That’s “How are you” in Norfuk, the language of Norfolk Island in the South Pacific where we’re from. It’s the greeting you hear most often when passing by others and if you’re feeling good, the answer is always:
That’s just one of many interesting stories we have to share, so today we’ve compiled a list of 10 things we think you’d love to know about KOOSHOO. From the meaning of our name and what inspired us to create our business, to what our products are made of, our goal is to help you get to know our little company that you’re supporting!
1. KOOSHOO Means “Feeling Good”
We’re fiercely proud of our Norfolk Island story not only because we think it’s the most beautiful little speck of paradise in the Pacific, but also because it’s here that we learned the true meaning of sustainability.
Norfolk Island was long a community of subsistence living. In other words, you lived purely off of what the earth, sea and sky provided, with little from the outside world. That’s not entirely true anymore (we have cars, a decently-stocked grocery store and most of the conveniences of modern living) but subsistence living remains at the core of how we live here. We harvest our water from the rains that fall on our roofs, we eat what’s in season on the land, and in every decision we make, we always seek to find balance with Mother Nature.
These are the values that created KOOSHOO and it was only fitting that when we launched the business, we used a Norfuk (the Norfolk Island language) word to represent us in the world. Kooshoo was an easy choice because from day one, the objective of our business was to leave every stakeholder - farmers, workers, customers and planet - feeling good about our partnership.
The video below is an oldie but a goodie. We shot this with our dear friends from Pure Souls Media, doing our best to capture what KOOSHOO means to us. While the products may be dated, the emotion behind our words here is as true today as back in 2012 when we launched this business.
2. Every Hair Tie and Scrunchie You’ve Ever Owned Still Exists
These are small products creating a big problem!
Every hair tie and scrunchie you’ve ever owned still exists somewhere! Yes, even the ones your parent put in your hair as a child.
This is because they are made of synthetic materials that have been given fancy names like polyester, nylon, or spandex, but are really just code names for plastic. An estimate of 15 million disposable plastic hair ties are lost or tossed every day in the United States alone. That’s the equivalent of a city bus worth of plastic, daily, from a simple product like a hair tie.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
3. KOOSHOO Hair Ties and Scrunchies Are Made From Plant-Based Materials
Back in 2010 when we were first ideating on what products KOOSHOO could make to create a positive impact in the world. Hair ties ended up on our list because no organic option existed. It was only after further research that we discovered no company had ever made a plastic-free hair tie - so we set about making that our first priority using only plant-based materials. We launched the world’s first-ever plastic-free hair ties in late 2012.
Over the 9+ years that we’ve been making our Hair Ties, they’ve been through at least a dozen subtle, but marked improvements to add stretch, bounce-back, improved labels, Fairtrade certifications and so much more.
Today, our popular Hair Ties and Scrunchies continue to be made with the same two ingredients we started with: organic cotton and plant-based rubber. This makes them both plastic-free and biodegradable. If put in a composting environment they will return to Mother Earth within ten years! Other plastic-based materials take approximately 500 years to break down.
4. Top Quality Certification
This’ll be a bit controversial…
We recently hired a great marketing firm to help us better tell our stories (the work is still in progress) because, well, when you make products in a responsible way, there are a LOT of stories to tell.
The marketing firm said (I’m paraphrasing), “while fair trade certifications are clearly important to you as founders, it is not the first reason customers will buy your products”.
OK, fair enough. We get that customers will always buy products first for fashion and function, and then all the other attributes they come along with. Thankfully, we have fashion and function covered!
But if we’re being honest, the fact that we’re making the first and only fully fair trade certified Hair Ties in the world is one of the accomplishments we’re most proud of with this business. And we hope that as customers, you too can feel excited about this!
In our Hair Ties and Scrunchies we use only 2 materials - organic cotton and natural rubber - and both are Fair Trade Certified. And while you may think we’re just talking about the elastic; we actually mean the thread, labels and elastic - literally every input! Fair Trade means the workers are paid fair wages and supported by social welfare programs.
And that’s not all…
The organic cotton we use is also GOTS Certified. Our natural tree rubber, which makes up 30% of the elastic, is harvested from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified rubber trees. We also use OEKO-TEX and GOTS Certified, non-toxic dyes, and FSC certified recycled packaging. We ship everything to you in 100% plastic-free packaging right down to paper packing tape!
So when we say, we have top-quality certifications, that’s what we mean.
* A note in the interest of transparency: in order to use the certification symbol for any of the bodies mentioned above, you must pay an annual fee. This also gets you listed in their online databases. These fees add up quickly so as a small, cash-strapped business, we’ve had to be selective with which fees we can pay. Right now, we’re paying Fairtrade and Fair Rubber Association fees. For GOTS and OEKO-TEX, we ensure our suppliers provide us with their certificates (a certificate is attached to each lot of production) so that we know the certifications are true; however, we are not yet listed in the official databases of those companies because we haven’t signed up for licensing of their logo. We can provide our supplier certificates to anyone looking to vet our claims. Our goal for this year is to have licensing agreements with all our material certifiers.
5. Ethical Manufacturing You Can Be Proud to Support
Our main partner in our supply chain - where all our Hair Ties and Scrunchies are cut, sewn and packaged - is a social good facility owned and operated by nuns. It’s Fairtrade and GOTS Certified, and the profits are used to fund benefits such as a cancer treatment center for those without access to care. It’s a facility you can truly feel good about supporting.
The picture below always brings so much happiness to our faces. We get to work with truly wonderful humans!
6. Materials That Are a Match Made in Hair Heaven
There’s a reason we specifically chose to make our hair accessories out of a combination of organic cotton and natural tree rubber.
The organic cotton is on the outside, providing an incredibly smooth, soft and gentle experience on your hair. It’s the organic cotton that has so many customers raving about the fact that our products do NOT give them hair tie headaches and don’t pull out hair.
Natural rubber is on the inside and provides the strong and resilient hold that lasts all day. It’s this strength that really gets customers’ attention - as our reviews can attest. Every day we hear from customers that our Hair Ties are the first they’ve been able to wear all day without discomfort and they’ve held their thick or thin hair like no other.
We’ve also designed the pieces to fit comfortably on your wrist so your Hair Tie is always accessible and won’t get lost when it’s not in your hair.
Check out a few of our favourite reviews from just the past week:
7. Buy Less, Choose Well, Make It Last
When people ask us what shopping sustainably means, we usually cite this quote. Not only do we love the simplicity of this message as consumers, but it’s also a pillar of our design process.
Plastic hair ties are one of the most littered fashion products in the world. Once you start watching for them, you see them everywhere. This is because they are deliberately designed and priced to be disposable. The makers want you to break and/or lose your hair ties so you buy more.
KOOSHOO Hair Ties and Scrunchies are designed to shift consumer perspectives. We’ve done the tests in a lab and our Hair Ties are 3x stronger than conventional glued hair ties. This, combined with machine washable fibers means that your KOOSHOO Hair Ties can be loved and cared for like your favourite t-shirt while living just as long productive life. Best of all, if you do happen to lose one (or retire one), our products have been designed to last in your hair but not in a landfill.
8. The World Is Ready for a Better Option
We hear it every single day here at KOOSHOO, customers all around the world want to be part of the solution and reduce waste in our world. One of the easiest ways to do this is by switching to a low waste lifestyle.
This is exactly what KOOSHOO accessories are all about!
We aren’t the only ones saying this; Alicia Silverstone and Miranda Kerr are big fans, and our products have been featured by Vogue, Goop, Allure, Byrdie, The Cut, Marth Stewart, and many more awesome publications in just the last year alone.
9. Our Packaging is Designed to Tell Great Stories
Ever left wanting to tell your friends about this great little hair accessories company you discovered but can’t choose which story about them to share?
It’s OK, we’ve been there.
That’s why we’ve adorned our beautiful packaging with a selection of heart-warming stories and facts that are sure to wow said friends. And if they aren’t wowed by learning about a little company uplifting workers throughout a supply chain by paying fair wages, well, it might be time for an intervention. Just saying. 😉
10. You’re Supporting a Small, Consciously Operated, Family Business
By believing in us, you’re supporting a real family business. There’s the two of us (we’re married and have 2 small kids) plus a small team of passionate and creative changemakers around the world.
Our whole business is about trying to make a positive impact in the world for our future, our children’s future and for the overall well-being of Mother Earth. We are truly grateful for the support we receive from our #KOOSHOOCommunity every day.