As part of our founder interview series, we speak with Angelika Davenport from TINCTURE about creating safe, non-toxic cleaning products for her home.
How did having children open your eyes to the hidden ‘nasties’ in traditional cleaning products?
TINCTURE was started out of a pure passion. As a mother of four children I searched everywhere for high-performance, non-toxic cleaning products that were totally safe to use around the whole family including our pets and that did not aggravate common conditions such as eczema and asthma. My eldest son, Freddie, had suffered with severe asthma from a very young age and I was increasingly concerned about the toxins and pollutants he was exposed to, both outside and inside our home. During the worst periods, we would have to run an enormous Swiss air purifier day and night in his bedroom in a desperate attempt to aid his symptoms. Then, just as we were trying to manage Freddie’s asthma, my eldest daughter started to develop dermatological problems. This forced us to look much more closely at her wash routine and consider what chemicals she might be exposed to when showering, bathing etc. I wanted more than anything to protect my children in their own home and this is where my TINCTURE journey began.
While doing research to learn more about cleaning products and our health, what was the most shocking thing you learned?
As I started finding out more about the issue of toxins in the home, I came across a shocking body of research (UK and US EPA) which revealed that air in a typical home, school or workplace is, on average, two and a half times more polluted than the air directly outside. Researchers identified the main culprits being the volatile chemical compounds released by the chemically based household products such as cleaners, candles, diffusers, plug-ins and air fresheners. As I continued reading and learning, I began to realise just how enormous the impact household chemicals were potentially having on my family´s health and wellbeing.
One of the most shocking things I learned when researching was what effects common ingredients used in many products, not only cleaning, but also shampoo’s, body washes, cosmetics and toothpastes had not only on our environment but also our health.
What are some of the core principles of TINCTURE, which guide all of your products and production?
Passion, purity and safety are at the heart of TINCTURE. Everything we create and do is driven by a passion to make a positive, sustainable contribution to our lives and our planet. If what we make is not of benefit to our health and our planet, the product will not be made. All products are truly, 100% natural and have been clinically tested to make sure they are safe to be used around our homes, our families and pets. Our washing up, all purpose and bathroom cleaners have have also been dermatologically approved to be safe for skin.
We are also proud to be a British company and support local manufacturers as well as ensuring we keep our carbon footprint to a minimum. All components are sourced in the UK and produced, stored and distributed from one location.
Did you have experience creating natural remedies before TINCTURE?
As a child, I was lucky enough to have been brought up in many different countries, thus being exposed to their unique cultures, traditions and habits. I was always intrigued to learn about local botanics and their associated healing and cleansing powers. One of my earliest memories as a child was making a natural remedy in the Austrian Alps. I spent hours gathering wild flowers to make a special ‘potion’ which ended up being eaten by my grandfather… he was convinced it was a special salad I had made for him!
I also started a habit very early on to take plants with me on my various trips and journeys, I believe plants have great healing and shielding powers against bacteria and viruses. I usually carry some fresh lavender, sage, rosemary or eucalyptus in one of my pockets during a flight and often simply just inhale their wonderful natural oils.
How do you ensure that all of the ingredients you use are ethically and sustainably sourced?
We are very research driven - the products need to work. We continuously work closely with our suppliers to ensure our standards are met, each formulation and every single ingredient we use has been rigorously lab tested over several years (not on animals or fish). It has taken us a long time and a lot of perseverance to earn our 100% natural labelling and we are very proud of it. I have been very lucky to work with some brilliant, experienced chemists who have helped make my dream a reality.
Do you think that government or other legislation should step in to better regulate cleaning products or other products used in the home?
Yes! 100%! I feel very strongly about this point, it should be our ambition to totally review and overhaul our country’s cleaning regulations which are all outdated.
The warning label on our bottles, only relates to the fact that we use pure essential oils that are included in concentrations above 0.01%. The names listed (i.e eugenol which is found in bay, myrtle, clove) are the active compounds found in many botanical and essential oils and are the reason the plants have beneficial properties. If our cleaning products, for example, Washing Up, fell under the cosmetic regulations we would not have to apply any form of warning sign on the bottle. In fact many cosmetic products include a much higher concentration of essential oils that are being directly applied to the skin than that of all our cleaning products.
I truly believe that the time has come to urgently not only review the UK and EU cleaning rules but moreover to create a global framework on chemicals and waste for human health, ocean health and biodiversity.
Aside from using TINCTURE, what tips and tricks do you suggest for improving the air quality and overall health of our homes?
As our indoor air quality is often 2 – 5 times more polluted than directly outside, one of the easiest and most basic things we can all do, is to open the windows and ventilate our homes regularly.
Some plants have also been scientifically proven to reduce indoor volatile organic compounds by as much as 80%. My personal favourites are the Golden Pathos (Epipremnum aureum) which is a fast growing vine, I also love the spider plant which has been found to have one of the highest formaldehyde removal capacities.
Another tip is to check the ingredients of all your common, everyday household and lifestyle products such as sprays (hair, deodorant) body creams, washes, shampoos, plug-ins etc. The ingredients are all considered to be at safe levels in individual products, however, problems arise due to the accumulation of these ingredients as well as the concoction of different ingredients mixing in the air which can impact our endocrine system, mental stability and respiratory health.
What has been your proudest moment since launching TINCTURE?
When you receive an e-mail from a grateful customer, telling you that TINCTURE is the first ECO cleaning range not to trigger an allergic reaction from their child. As a mother of children with allergies, I can relate to that so much. We had one from the mother of an eight-year-old little girl only recently. She also said it meant the world to her to use something with such a beautiful smell and not to have to clean with vinegar anymore.
You have four children, which helped inspire you to launch Tincture. What advice would you give to other mother’s looking to balance a business with home life?
I think running a family simultaneously with a business is incredibly hard and you will have to be realistic that mistakes will be made and that you might not be the “perfect” mum, “perfect” wife nor “perfect” business leader, at all times! Remember you are doing your best!
You will be constantly multi-tasking, with several plates spinning at the same time. At times you will be feeling guilty that you might be neglecting one aspect of your life as your time and energy are limited.
I think it is incredibly important to let children know what one is trying to achieve and why? Get them interested in the process and involve them by asking their opinions or even, like in my case, let them be part of the development process. My kids loved testing the products and told me what they thought. It is hard for children to accept that you might not be able to pick them up from school every afternoon, nor be available for every school event, and that you might have to work some evenings or over the weekend. I have found that including them in your journey helps them understand and feel part of what you are trying to achieve.
I have tried to create a balance in my day by imposing certain boundaries for myself, my children and the business. I try and carve out some quality time for myself and take time to be outside. When the children are back from school and at weekends they are my main focus. One of the biggest distractions is the mobile phone so this is the first thing that is switched off at the end of the working day.
Lastly, how would you like to see TINCTURE expand in the future?
I would love Tincture to grow from a small rebellious, conscious brand into a more widely known household brand which stands for promoting health and wellbeing amongst families in our homes as well as our planet!
We are spending over 90% of our times indoor – work, school and at home. I passionately hope that one day schools will abolish the use of chemical based cleaning products. I also hope that the cleaning routines will change in hospitals where patients are being exposed to horrendous chemicals whilst trying to recover.
Hopefully we will have contributed our tiny part to a big movement to clamp down on the use of chemicals.