The packing & design, as well as the enticing fragrance of Toni's products - Planet Luxe, is what initially drew us in when we discovered them at Koskela in Surry Hills, Sydney. From then on we were hooked and just had to meet the maker and master of these beautiful products! On our trip to Melbourne Toni graciously invited us into her beautiful home and told us a bit more about Planet Luxe.
Tell us how you came about starting Planet Luxe?
It was a culmination of a whole lot of things that in 2009 led to the idea of Planet Luxe. I had been working in marketing in the sustainability space and had been exposed to very forward thinking about the issues of personal wellness, reduction of chemical exposure and green living trends, so that was on my radar.
Plus I was conscious of wanting to make better choices myself regarding the products I used at home - both from a toxicity and irritant point of view. I was getting rashes when I used some cleaning products and coughing and spluttering when I used others. I was buying some eco products but I thought the packaging was not very attractive and I thought if the eco product packaging had a better design aesthetic, then more people like me would be attracted to the products …so really it was identifying a gap and setting out to give the category a makeover. The range as you see it launched in late 2011.
You blend aesthetic and ingredients beautifully, is this important to you?
Incredibly important. I began my career working in advertising and since 1995 I’ve run my own consultancy specialising in branding/advertising/marketing/pr so developing the brand philosophy was the first thing I did. I then came up with a name that reflected this philosophy and worked with a very talented graphic designer (and good friend) Richard Blackman to get the look and feel for the brand.
Then I started working on the products in collaboration with a formulation chemist. The brand philosophy is what I go back to every time I’m working on a new product or any advertising material.
Our philosophy is to deliver well-designed, high quality products that are made with thought and consideration for the environment so we can all live a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle and still be surrounded by beautiful things.
When developing this range, not only was it critical that the formulations were pure, safe, luscious, smelt heavenly and worked brilliantly, the packaging had to be functional and look amazing, too.
How do you choose your ingredients?
The biggest challenge was making sure the products all worked (no one is going to use a product if it doesn't do the job it is meant to) and were free from nasty ingredients. I did a lot of research into what the main problem ingredients were, examined the products already on the market (both here and overseas) and looked at consumer trends in the category.
In the brand strategy I identified what I wanted to be able to claim about the products and worked backwards to develop products that could deliver those claims. I knew that I wanted to say absolutely that all the products were toxin-free, readily 100% biodegradable and grey water safe with no animal testing or animal by-products.
Plus NO parabens, phosphates, sulphates (sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate), bleach, ammonia, chlorine, synthetic fragrances or dyes. I also wanted a distinctly Australian angle to the blends so we include essential oils, extracts and other ingredients such as Australian Lemon Myrtle, Kakadu Plum and Eucalyptus Blue Gum in the formulations.
Where do you source them from?
Our products are proudly made in Melbourne and we source locally as much possible.
How did you come across Ylang Ylang and Kakadu Plum, and can you tell us about what makes them so special?
Kakadu Plum is so Australian I wanted to have it in the products. It grows natively across the Top End of Australia and the fruit is a traditional antiseptic.
Ylang Ylang came up as a good companion oil for the Australian Lemon Myrtle and so we tried it and everyone loved it. I think it makes the hand wash smell fizzy. I know that doesn’t make sense but it’s an amazing smell. Ylang Ylang essential oil perfume is said to be calming and relaxing which makes using this product a wellbeing experience too.
Do you believe people are purchasing your products because they look & smell good or because they believe in the ingredients within them?
We have a lot of customers who buy because they love the philosophy and all that it entails. As we are lucky enough to be stocked in some of the most beautiful lifestyle stores (plus online stores) around the country, we also have customers who are drawn to the look and/or the smell of the brand without knowing how it’s made, but at the end of the day that’s where we saw the gap – making a product that sits comfortably on either side.
Tell us about some of your day-to-day conscious choices and how Planet Luxe has made you think deeper about your daily impact on the planet?
As I travel the Planet Luxe journey, I am learning more and more about the impact my lifestyle has on the planet and my health. I am trying to be more thoughtful and smarter about my consumption and trying to learn to live with less - that ultimately has benefits for the planet and my pocket. The key word I think is being conscious – I have realised I do a lot of things out of habit – and if I think about it I can do lots of things in a better way.
- I don’t buy bottled water
- Take my own bag/s when shopping
- Try to reduce waste by planning my food shopping and taking leftovers to work for lunch (rather than leaving them to go bad in the fridge)
- Suitable food scraps go in the worm farm
- I’ve planted a kitchen veggie garden
- I recycle everything I can – bottles, paper, clothes
- Wash with cold water most of the time and only wash what I need to wash
- Only buy what I need – I’m trying to stop the feel good spending! And if I do need to shop try the op shop first
- Buy my day-to-day reading books from the op shop – and then give to friends or return to op shop
- Try to shop at the local market rather than the supermarket for more whole foods and miles travelled point of view
- Detoxed my home and read label on everything I buy
- Go one day a week without – no opening my wallet or shopping online
What are your 5 tips for people at home doing home chores and making conscious choices whilst doing them?
The first thing to do is to start reading ingredients listings on the products you buy. Cleaning our home is supposed to be about maintaining a healthy space, yet some common household cleaning products contain chemicals that can harm us, animals and the environment.
Chemical culprits to avoid include: parabens, phosphates, sodium laurel sulphate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulphate (SLES), bleach, chlorine, triclosan, diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), ethylenediamino-tetra-acetate (EDTA), nitrates, ammonia, synthetic fragrances and dyes.
While taking a greener approach to cleaning can help you feel better physically, you’ll probably also feel better mentally, knowing you are creating a safer environment for yourself, your family and your pets.
Since reading that the environmental impact of our clothing washing habits apparently outweighs all that was incurred getting the garment to us in the first place, I have started thinking more carefully about how often I wash my clothes. Technology has made it much easier for us to wash often and the big brands want us to use more washing powder so encourage our obsession. I used to wash clothes that were really still clean a lot of the time. So think about not only about the type of clothing you buy and how it was made – but also don’t automatically throw clothes into the wash basket without considering if you can get another wear out of them.
Learn to live with less. Every purchase should be tested by the phrase ‘do I really need this’. We need to stop buying the unnecessary and when we do buy we need to use it/ wear it out. I recently moved house and was embarrassed by the number of lipsticks I obviously got half way through and then decided I needed another colour/type what ever.
Take your own shopping bag to the supermarket. It’s an oldie but a goodie. And don’t put every vegetable in another plastic bag.
Buy local – I am often shocked to see where some items in the supermarket have come from the other side of the world. Farmers markets are definitely the best option but the reality is that not everyone is that organised (Ok I have a new year’s resolution to get more organised and I’m working on it!). So wherever you are shopping, look at the signage for the items origin.
It can get overwhelming at times and there’s lots of information and views about all sorts of things. So if I feel like I’m/we’re not doing enough and we’re all doomed I take a deep breath and think that this is all about doing better. If you need a heavy duty cleaner for your son’s grass stained footy shorts then use it – but if you replace that harsh chemical cleaner half the time you are doing 50% better and that’s great.
Living sustainably doesn’t have to be an exercise in deprivation we need to act in terms we can live with.
As Helen Keller said, ‘I am only one but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
Where can people buy your products?
PLANET LUXE is available from around 50 retail and online stores throughout Australia. We also have our own online store www.planetluxe.com.au
“While taking a greener approach to cleaning can help you feel better physically, you'll probably also feel better mentally, knowing you are creating a safer environment for yourself, your family and your pets ”