KOOSHOO Looks Back On a Decade of Impact

November 10th is a big deal for us: it marks our 10-year selling anniversary! 

It’s been a wild ride and we’re so grateful for every minute of it. What we’re most grateful for is your support: without you purchasing our products, telling your friends, or asking us questions about our processes, we wouldn’t be here.

To honour you, we’re offering 25% off everything in our store from Nov 7 right through to our birthday, November 10. That’s right! If you’re wanting to load your family and friends up on all things KOOSHOO for the holidays, or you’ve been waiting for the right moment to invest in a new set of sustainable hair accessories, here is your sign.

Why is a decade a big deal?

While the data is mixed, there is some evidence to suggest that only around 30% of businesses make it to the 10-year mark. And, for us, it’s important to stay in business not just for the sake of being in business…we really want to help uplift this planet, and we think doing business better is one way to achieve that goal. 

And, we really, really want to help you in your sustainability efforts. Having a sustainable alternative available instead of conventional products is important to shift the conversation around how we are leaving an impact on this planet. That’s why we’re here.

KOOSHOO being in business for a decade means ten years of being able to support fair-trade workers, shift the narrative around sustainable hair accessories, and provide those accessories to you. It means ten years of seeing our KOOSHOO family grow, from just two co-owners juggling all the things and a handful of our family and friends buying our products, to now: employing a team of humans around the world, expanding our maker network, and watching our customer base rocket into the stratosphere.

We’re in this for the long haul. Now, we’d like to take a pause and reflect on the last 10 years of impact - 12 years actually, as we worked for 2 years on the business before ever making a sale! Below you’ll find a timeline of KOOSHOO adventures, from the beginning to now. Choose a point and travel back in time with us!

And don’t forget our Birthday Bash sale, on now until November 10th.

2010: How it started…

kooshoo founders rachel and jesse

KOOSHOO founders in the jungles of Borneo

While we incorporated KOOSHOO in 2010 (hence “EST 2010” on our packaging) we actually didn’t start generating sales until 2012 (more on that later).

It all started in 2009, with a wrong turn in Borneo. That wrong turned out to be the exact right thing for us, changing the course of our lives forever. We met a man there, who owned the first recycling plant in the area. He also showed us the impact the western world’s consumptive habits were having on his country. It was devastating to witness and we knew there had to be a better way.

What began as research into the power of conscious consumerism and plastic-free movements turned into a rabbit hole, exploring social-good supply chains, and the importance of fair wages and ethical worker treatment. By  2010 we had officially set out on a path to create a sustainable product that filled a need and empowered customers - without adding to the load that is weighing down our planet. We set out to make one small, positive change that would have a big impact. This is when KOOSHOO was born.

How did an epiphany in an industrial town in Borneo turn into this company you're visiting today? We've documented it all so start your journey by checking out the pieces below..

how to run a business as a couple

2011: What’s in a name?

kooshoo's original packaging

kooshoo's original products

In 2011 we developed our first packaging and branding, along with first products

Finding a name for our fledgling business took time and we chose it very intentionally.

We wanted our products to be a vehicle for good, contributing to the betterment of this world. And we also were surrounded by some incredible history, with our co-founder Rachel having grown up on a speck of paradise in the middle of the South Pacific, Norfolk Island, 900 miles due east of Australia.

The people of Norfolk Island traditionally depended on subsistence living, wherein their interdependence on nature for food, water, and shelter, was critical to their health and well being. Having their own language, Norf'k, many local words exist to denote a sense of gratitude and happiness, yet it was the word kooshoo that from the very beginning beckoned our founders.  Kooshoo, in Norf'k, translates as "feeling good" and when setting out to create a company that uplifts every stakeholder - from farmers to sewers to dyers to nature to you, our customers - a word like kooshoo made all the sense in the world as our brand name.

Read about the history of our name:

2012: The hair tie that started it all 

kooshoo starts selling at vancouver yoga conference

kooshoo team at first conference

Nov 10, 2012, KOOSHOO's first day of sales at the Vancouver Yoga Conference. Pictured are KOOSHOO's founders, their respective brother and sister, as well as multi-talented Gen who continues in her role of PR Director today.

In 2012, KOOSHOO officially had its first Los Angeles production and things began happening. We launched our first products this year and sold our first-ever products on November 10, 2012, at the Vancouver Yoga Conference. It was such an exciting - and nerve-wracking - time. 

For those that have been with us since the beginning, this is when our plastic-free hair ties first made their debut. At the time, we called them ‘LILA’ although they’ve now been renamed Flats (and have been through about a dozen iterations/improvements since that first day!).

We also launched a few products that are now part of our historical archives, including some gorgeous hand-dyed Shawls and the HU headband. And, for those that are fans of our Twist Headbands, they also came onto the scene in 2012, originally called the “ENSO” headband.

Tie it all together and learn about our early-stage production processes on these in depth, behind-the-scenes looks at manufacturing in America:

2013: The juggle is real

kooshoo turns 1Celebrating our first birthday while working day jobs

While KOOSHOO was certainly not resting on its laurels this year, the fact of the matter is that its founders were juggling all the things. At this stage, KOOSHOO wasn’t quite a full-time task - at least not in the sense that a living could be had from it.

So, Rachel and Jesse continued to teach yoga and work other part-time jobs, all while they worked on KOOSHOO, which, as any small business owner knows, involves wearing many hats and playing many roles. Things were quiet on the Ponytales (our blog) front as a result so we don’t have much content to link to for that year! 

2014: Kickstarting a journey, part I (the Journey Shawl)

Two female models on a couch holding a KOOSHOO Journey Shawl above their heads.

kooshoo journey shawl multi useThe 12-outfit-in-1 Journey Shawl arrives to much acclaim

To help grow our business and build community at the same time, we took to crowdfunding, still a rather novel concept back then. Crowdfunding allowed a small, self-funded business like ours to bring a new product to market in a financially feasible way. The product? Our 12-outfits-in-1 Journey Shawl that arrived on the scene to much acclaim, including one piece written by Treehugger that generated hundreds upon hundreds of units sold. 

And while the launch of the Journey Shawls was a massive moment for KOOSHOO, no moment in 2014 compared to when our first child, our darling daughter, was born. Curious to know what it's like balancing the roles of business partners, life partners, and parents all together? Here's the story on how we do it.  

While the Journey Shawl campaign is now complete and we have archived the product, you can still walk down memory lane with us in a few ways:

What do you think, do you want this product back? Let us know!

2015: Kickstarting a journey, part II (Kids Pants)

kooshoo expandable kids pants

expandable organic cotton kids pantsKOOSHOO Kids Pants - perhaps our best designed product

With the birth of our daughter, we found ourselves seeking out low-waste, long-lasting products for her, just as we’d been doing with all our products. Not finding what we wanted, we decided to make our own: Kids’ Pants that would grow with our child. But rather than keep this to ourselves, we decided to bring our community along and launched another crowd-funding campaign, this time on Indiegogo. 

We’re not currently making the Kids' Pants at this time, but we might return to them in future. (Is that something you’d like to see? Send us a note.)

Travel back in time:

KOOSHOO Co-founder Rachel with her daughter wearing Batik Kids Pants

Rachel, our Co-Founder, with daughter

2016 - KOOSHOO x Love Goodly x …Alicia Silverstone?!

While KOOSHOO had been blessed to collaborate with many groups, charities, and brands in the 3.5 years since embarking on this business journey, none had brought more attention (at the time) to our brand than our work with subscription box maker, Love Goodly. The reason for this? Alicia Silverstone, yes, the Alicia Silverstone! For Earth Day in 2016, Love Goodly collaborated with Alicia Silverstone to curate a box of her favourite products, and she requested that KOOSHOO make the cut.

Our plastic-free, ‘Flats’ hair ties (then called ‘LILA’) joined up with other notable brands including mykind organics, Nicobella chocolates, ZAO organic makeup, and OSEA moisturizer. The best part? A percentage of each box went to the charity Farm Sanctuary, doing integral animal welfare work for farm animals in the USA.

And, we love what Alicia had to say about our products:

alicia silverstone ethical fashion faves

See why teamwork makes the dream work:

2017 - KOOSHOO goes to India

KOOSHOO goes to India

In 2017, we did something really big: we ventured outside North America to produce our Kids Pants. This was a decision we did not take lightly: it was fully intentional and involved a lot of research to make sure we got it right.

As is well known now, the fashion industry is often highly exploitive when it exports its manufacturing overseas: workers suffer, and so too does the environment. None of this extractive mentality fit with the KOOSHOO way of doing things, so it was really important for us to find partners who did align with our mission.

But of course, as with all new things come their own challenges and in 2017, we faced our share of them. As yoga teachers, we are always teaching our students to flow, be at ease, and let go. Well, it turns out we had our own lessons to learn in that department and this year challenged us to really relinquish control and “go with the flow.”

Below, you’ll find two posts from this pivotal year that we think illuminate these ideas. One is our travel diary during our first trip to India. The second, is a musing on what it means to relinquish control in the pursuit of a better life, something that we in Western societies are not always so great at. What we’ve learned? Taking the road less travelled will invariably lead to opportunities in life that we might never have thought possible. 

Take the road less travelled: 

Three pairs of KOOSHOO Kids Pants hang on a clothesline, two pairs of pink Batik and one pair of black Batik in the middle.

2018: The hype train leaves the station

kooshoo twist headband miranda kerrSupermodel Miranda Kerr shows off her KOOSHOO Twist Headband

KOOSHOO partnered up with a few different people and groups in 2018 and the results carried KOOSHOO to a new level of impact in the world. To keep up, this is the year we hired our first full-time contractor, a brilliant customer-turned-partner who remains core to our business today (thanks Jack, we appreciate you!).  

First up, Miranda Kerr, at the time a Victoria's Secret supermodel, shared her love of our headbands through her Kora Organics launch. Then, our first plastic-free retail partner, Life Without Plastic, added KOOSHOO to their offerings. This set off a wild ride of wholesale business growth, allowing KOOSHOO to expand to retailers in 25+ countries around the world.

kooshoo Sea Shepherd fashion custom KOOSHOO pack for Sea Shepherd

Also in 2018, we partnered with Sea Shepherd on a custom Flats hair-tie pack. The purpose of this partnership was to raise awareness about the problems facing our ocean ecosystems. For KOOSHOO, partnerships have always been about three things: 

  1. teaming up with companies who share our values
  2. communicating an eco-minded message to the world. 
  3. coming together for a shared cause to amplify effort and shed light on world issues. 

We see collaboration as an opportunity to cross-educate between audiences and spread awareness of causes we all should care about.

Catch a ride with these posts: 

2019 - KOOSHOO goes back to India and dives into the world of Fairtrade-certified

plastic-free ethical fashion indiaKOOSHOO Co-founder, Jesse, with the first production pack from India

We learned a lot from manufacturing our Kids Pants in India and decided that we’d like to further our artisan relationships there. So, in 2019, we found ourselves back in India, this time working with partners to co-create our Flats hair ties. We wanted to find a partner unlike any other in the world, and that’s exactly what we did.

At the time, demand for zero-waste and plastic-free products was reaching an all-time high and it was really exciting. But while other companies were rushing into the space with some very questionable eco-claims, we doubled down on our commitment to “walk our talk” and consciously operate our business in a way that was (and still is) transparent and accountable. 

An employee of a Fairtrade-certified cut and sew facility in India makes KOOSHOO plastic-free hair ties.As we mentioned above, the decision to venture overseas for production was not something we took lightly. We spent a lot of time combing through potential partners to find one that was both Fairtrade and GOTS-certified, plus audited regularly by a third party. We found what we were looking for - and then some - in a highly certified social good operation owned and operated by nuns,  and that partnership turned out to be one of the biggest highlights of 2019. 

And just to top things off, our brilliant designer, Kirsty, came through with fresh new packaging, similar but different from the packaging you see on shelves today. 

Learn about our Fairtrade journey:

2020 - Introducing the world’s first 100% Fairtrade Scrunchie

the best vegan scrunchies in the world

We’re children of the 80s, what can we say? We love big hair and big scrunchies.

And, we’re pretty proud of what we accomplished with this, a 100% Fairtrade scrunchie. Scrunchies are one of those accessories that were due for a revamp suitable for our times: one that delivered on the fashion and function of the products of yore while doing so in the ethically- and environmentally-responsible way that our future demands.

Made of ultra-luxe organic cotton, they’re also vegan and really do feel like a cloud for your hair. Incidentally, they seemed to help folks working from home (or, WFH as some might say these days) No, we did not plan it that way, it was a fluke!

Read up on the scrunchie story:

Woman sitting on rock wall in hawaii with coral rose scrunchie on her wristToday, our Scrunchies are loved and enjoyed in locales around the world

2021 - A global pandemic and…a new website? 

We don’t need to tell you what a crazy time 2021 was. In many respects, it was just. plain. hard. We hunkered down along with the rest of the world and tried to keep our minds focused to maintain hope and optimism. What did we do during that time? Well, we undertook a massive website overhaul! If you visited our website anytime between November 2021 and now, you’ve been enjoying the results.

As anyone who has gone through a website redevelopment project can attest, it is a project that never ends: we are always making tweaks and updates and chasing blog posts that missed the boat during the transition. But, we’re really happy with the way things have turned out. If this is your first time here, we hope you’ll take a look around. Below are some places we’re especially proud of..

Some highlights include:

2022: How it’s going!

the strongest hair tie Introducing the KOOSHOO Rounds, our streak of innovation continues

We had some big wins in 2022, including the launch of our plastic-free ‘Rounds’-style hair ties. For this launch, we partnered with a 4th generation family business in Japan,  that’s committed to quality above anything else. We had heard from you that you wanted a sustainable - and long-lasting - alternative to the conventional 50-unit-packs that often broke after a few uses. 

The Rounds-style hair ties were something we’d spent a really long time researching and working on and we think they’re - once again -  revolutionizing the hair accessory industry, much like our Flats have already achieved. How did we do this? By taking a conventional shape that customers are used to and building them in a way that makes them better quality and comfier than all the rest.

And because we don't just want you to take our word for it regarding quality, we sent our Rounds, along with the top 3 best-selling competitors in the space, to a third-party lab to get them strength-tested. The result? Our ties are 2-3x stronger than the competition. What this means: you’ll need fewer hair ties for your long-lasting ponies and there'll be far less waste moving forward! 

If you’re wondering, “how much waste could hair ties possibly generate?,” well, we have an answer for that too and it’s pretty shocking.

Read about Rounds:

KOOSHOO Rounds plastic-free hair ties

Reflecting and looking ahead

While a lot has changed in the 10 years since KOOSHOO first started sellling, much has remained the same. KOOSHOO is still committed to producing plastic-free, organic, and truly sustainable hair accessories for everyone. We are still dedicated to working closely with our suppliers and manufacturers to ensure that the environmental, human and social aspects of sustainability are achieved. And, we’re still in the business of making our customers feel good. That is, of course, the KOOSHOO way.

We want to say thank you to our customers for getting us here! We couldn’t have made it without the support from our KOOSHOO crew (that’s all of you). It may sound like a cliche, but as the owners of this business, we can 100% confirm that every dollar you spend with small, consciously-operated businesses like KOOSHOO makes a very real difference in the lives of many. Your dollars count as votes for the future you want to see and it’s because of those votes that we’re able to uplift the farmers and suppliers of our products as we do. In other words, it’s all because of your votes that we’re here celebrating with you today! 

Remember: our 10th birthday celebration is on! Don’t let it pass you by without partaking in the festivities! Whether you’ve been wanting to try the new Rounds or you’re getting a jump on your holiday shopping (good hair is the best gift), we’ve got you! We appreciate your support of consciously-operated businesses like ours and want to reward you for helping us get here. A milestone like this doesn’t come up very often, so we’re making the most of it.

Let’s celebrate!

KOOSHOO founders Jesse and Rachel celebrating their second birthday as a company.KOOSHOO founders way back in 2012 when this wild ride was just beginning

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"The best hair tie I've ever used. The fact that it adheres to my standards of a planet friendly product is a bonus!"
- Melody P.

"You guys, these scrunchies are ridiculous. I have THICK hair and I'm so pumped that not only can I wrap it around my hair twice, but it stays in without slowly falling out."
Sarah L

"I think the headband is my favourite one I have ever worn to be honest!!"
Kaitlynn M.