Behind the Box: Essentials Eco

Have you ever been curious about what goes into that delightful subscription box that shows up on your door each month and who it is that is creating such wonder? It’s almost a mystery of how all those perfectly paired items come together and all wind up in that box of surprises that brightens your day and brings useful, fun, exciting and unique items for you to try out.

Subscription boxes certainly are a labor of love to create with the curators putting so much energy and thoughtfulness into making sure each box is something their subscribers will love. Box companies are often small businesses or one-person shows that tie up all the details to make sure you have an overall great experience. We thought it would be fun to check in with some of our favorite boxes in a new “Behind the Box” feature series to give you a glimpse at the process of how a box comes to be. We’ll be interviewing box owners to get a behind-the-scenes look at who they are and how they do what they do.

We’re very excited to have our very first “Behind the Box” post in the series feature Brielle from Essentials Eco! If you’re not already familiar, Essentials Eco is a quarterly subscription box that aims to help subscribers reduce household waste and start their sustainability journey. Each box introduces 5-7 safe, clean, and eco-friendly household products with sustainability and simplicity in mind that could be incorporated into the home and daily routine. Products can include cleaning solutions, personal wellness, skincare products, kitchen utensils and other household items – all carefully selected to replace high-carbon, high-waste products in your home. We interviewed Brielle to find out how and why she started this eco-friendly quest that helps others start their journey too. Read on for all the details of what and who is behind this box!

Tell us about yourself……

When I was pregnant with my first child, I spent many nights researching and experimenting with sustainable lifestyle alternatives. I was highly aware that many parents were overwhelmed with incorporating sustainability into their busy lives – but at the same time, knew it was more critical than ever to start a foundation that would pave the way to a more sustainable future for her children and grandchildren.

When I’m not working, I love spending time in British Columbia’s beautiful outdoors with my family.  It nurtures my soul and renews my commitment and passion for nature that is the fuel behind my work to try and live more sustainably and responsibly.

I love spending quality time with my children doing crafts, reading and baking.  Fun fact, I just learned how to bake sourdough thanks to my neighbour, which has been a goal for many years.  I also love involving my kids in the business as much as possible, to show them that protecting the environment doesn’t need to be difficult, stressful or costly.

Tell us about Essentials Eco……..

Essentials Eco was founded on a passion to help create a more sustainable world for generations to come. Our quarterly subscription boxes focus on simple swaps to help people reduce their footprint while still providing convenience for busy modern families. We believe that sustainability can and should work with your current lifestyle and be a compliment to your daily routine. Our curations focus on reducing plastic, single-use and chemical products from our subscribers homes. We are dedicated to showcasing small, minority-owned and women-owned businesses in Canada, who share our goals for eco-sustainability and social responsibility.

Our boxes are filled with simple utility based swaps for products you already have in your home. All products are tested in our busy home with 2 toddlers and by at least 2 additional households. We work to make sustainability fun so that more people will start their sustainability journeys.
As part of our mission we prioritize partnerships with women- and minority-owned Canadian businesses that are equally committed to sustainability and social responsibility, helping to amplify their voices among Canadian consumers.

How did you come up with the idea for the box?

Essentials Eco was born around a campfire.  After years of being on our own journey and experiencing all the success and failures that came with, my husband and I were talking one night about how to make it easier for our friends and family to start living a more sustainable life.  The idea of opening a retail store kept coming back around for years but I was working full time so never went past an idea.

Then, we had a second baby, COVID hit and with the events industry, my previous life, shuttered due to the pandemic, I had the time to think more deeply about how to share sustainability with our community and after many conversations with my best friend we kept coming back around to the idea of making sustainability easy and fun at the same time.  As an ex subscription box addict I loved the excitement of receiving products on a regular basis and thought if we could bring that fun to sustainable living maybe we could get more people involved. So a year and many long nights later Essentials Eco went live.

Do you have a team?

We have 4 ‘test households’ for all of our products and work with a wonderful PR and marketing firm but when it comes to day to day operations it is a family business run by me and my husband.  We also rely heavily on our community on social media and our subscribers to tell us what they want so I always think of them as our team.

What has been the most challenging part of starting a subscription?

The most difficult part of launching essentials eco has been education.  We offer all the fun of receiving happy mail but with an aspect of utility as our products are curated to be used in your home on a regular basis.  Learning how to get our message across and educating people on why they should move towards sustainability has been a challenge but also one of the most fulfilling aspects of our business as seeing people start their journeys and make real changes in their lives is why we do this.

What has been the best part of starting a subscription?

For me it has been connecting with our community and the incredible brands that we get to feature in our curations.  Hearing stories from our subscribers and community about their journey and also sharing the stories behind the brands and their commitment to protecting this amazing planet has been inspiring.

Also, seeing my 4 year old really get involved in sustainability finding fun ways to repurpose things and learning about recycling to ‘help mommy with her work’ is a big part of what keeps me going everyday.

How do you choose the products to feature in the box?

All of the amazing brands we work with are Canadian owned and operated and we focus on women-owned, minority owned, small to medium businesses.  Every time we consider a brand they complete a detailed questionnaire about their product, their values, their sustainability practices and their commitment to both eco and social responsibility as we believe that you cannot take care of the planet without understanding and caring for the people on it.

In addition, we personally use every product for at least 3-6 months in our home and a few additional testers homes, before including it in any box.  After knowing how it is made, by who and how it is packaged, if a product can survive my very particular husband, our two toddlers and actually get used regularly, it gets our seal of approval!

What has been your favorite product so far?

You are going to get a sneak peek here as my favourite product is from our winter box which starts shipping December 1 and is now available for pre-order.  I am absolutely in love with the reusable tea bags from Your Green Kitchen.  I am addicted to tea and when I found out most tea bags contained microplastics I searched high and low for a good tea strainer but struggled with size and what to do with it after.  The combination of cotton bags and a balancing stick make it easy to use and rinse clean and it fits any mug so I don’t have to worry about having a certain mug clean.

What is you’re dream product and/or brand that you would love to include in a future box?

I have always pictured someday creating a branded diffuser to help people bring natural wellness and clean scents into their homes.

What did you do before you started the subscription box?

Prior to the global pandemic, I worked in sales and event management at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver for 11 years. When the pandemic shuttered the events industry, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to launch the eco-centred business I had dreamed about for years.  Working for an amazing guest experience focused brand, I learned a lot about customer service and understanding our guests on a personal level and I try to bring a feeling of ‘creating an experience’ to each of our curations.

What are the first 3 products someone should replace when starting an eco-friendly lifestyle change?

Ok, I’m going to cheat a little here cause I always recommend people start with “The Big 4”.

  • Plastic Bags
  • Straws
  • Cups
  • Drink Bottles

These 4 items are some of the most commonly found products in our landfills and are also simple places to start.  Bring your own bags to the grocery store, carry a stainless steel straw in your purse, invest in a good travel mug you love and fill your water bottle every morning!

What is unique about your packaging? Or how did you come up with the design for the packaging?

Our packaging is 100% plastic free and free of chemical ink.  We chose to keep our boxes simple and hand stamp each one rather than having elaborate custom boxes made as this removes one step in the manufacturing process, in turn reduces our footprint.

We also chose to keep the boxes simple as we hope that they are reused by our members.  Our boxes can be unfolded, flipped over and refolded to create a plain box for gifts, office storage or, in my house, our kids collections.  Check out our reels for a how to.

Can you give us a hint at what the next box might contain/what the theme might be?

The winter box is all about adding sustainability to those cozy winter moments with your family.  From a hot cup of tea while you watch the kids play to holiday dinners with those you cherish our winter box is curated for cold nights and warm hearts. Plus a little something to help take care of you through the cold months ahead.

Do you subscribe to any boxes?

I have subscribed to many boxes over the years and still have a quarterly book subscription through a local bookstore and my eldest daughter gets the Green Kids Craft boxes which she loves.

What is your favorite subscription box (other than yours)?

I have always loved book subscriptions as it motivates me to read and also recently stumbled across a box from right here in Vancouver called the Gift Refinery that I may have added to my Christmas list. 😉

Of course we’ve been familiar with this box, but this behind the scenes look gave us such fun insight. For example, we knew they had amazing eco-friendly packaging choices, but didn’t know about the way to reuse the box by flipping it inside out. Also, it was clear that they vetted the products they include, but it was great to learn just how thorough their process really is so you know the products you’ll receive will be not only useful, but stand the test of time. We’ve got to give a huge thanks to Brielle for giving us this look at Essentials Eco. Be sure to check this box out to build your eco-friendly lifestyle. And stay tuned for our next “Behind the Box” feature!

The Botanic Gal –

Essentials Eco

Essentials Eco is a quarterly subscription box bringing low waste, sustainable products designed to fit seamlessly into your daily routine right to your door.

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Use code SUSTAINABLEYEAR to receive a surprise free item with any subscription! Learn More about Essentials Eco »

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