An interview with Green Trading’s managing director, Rohan by Kate Dalliessi
Tell us about the history of Green Trading and where it all began
Being from India, we grew up with Ayurvedic practices, influenced and practiced by our grandparents. It was just another way to support a healthy lifestyle. We used to take neem regularly, a tea of the leaves for 15 days before the season changes and 15 days after season changes. It was a way to help support our immune system and help prevent us from getting sick.
Moving to NZ in 2003 these traditional practices gradually stopped, as we changed to more of a western diet and way of life. Maybe a few months to a year later, our son became sick and was diagnosed with an illness and were told there was a low rate of survival. We began working with a holistic Dr who gave us good advice throughout the conventional treatments and supporting is body post treatment. But afterwards, he always had trouble with his immune system and would often need to take antibiotics, of increasing strength. After a while we had enough and thought there must be a better way. It wasn’t until our holistic Dr suggested trying Neem. He had heard it was very good to help support immunity. It triggered the memories for us, that we used to always take Neem but over the years had forgotten.
Since then, which is about 12 years ago, we have been taking neem tea every single day. The whole family, without fail, wherever we go we have neem with us. Over time our son’s health began to get better and better. He was also taking black seed oil earlier on (under the guide of Dr) and we’re not sure exactly what helped him, but the most important this is that he is better. His body and immune system is strong again.
I do think Neem has made a huge change in his life. He is healthy, but it has also helped the health of our whole family.
We thought, we want to bring Neem to NZ. The way neem helped our son is a big driver as to why we began this business, but it’s not the only reason and we don’t just sell it for one specific thing. It has so many other benefits and so many other uses.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the inspiration behind some of the products?
When our son was first sick, we were always looking for natural products for him. If he was asking for a deodorant, we would always make something homemade. From there we thought we could add them to the Green Trading range. We have lots of products that we use ourselves that we aren’t selling, but maybe in the future. Our thought was, the products were good and we are using it ourselves, why not offer it to others too?
We approached some formulators about creating Neem products here in NZ but the cost for each product was quite high. So, my wife just thought, okay ill study, so she studied skin and healthcare formulation. From there, with her help we began making products.
This is how the whole concept started and it has grown and developed in a natural way. Offering products that we like and use ourselves. There was always a natural product available out in the market, but it was Neem that really inspired us. It has so many benefits that would be good for all sorts of uses.
It’s the same with our health supplements, like Ashwaganda, Amla, Shatavari and Triphala, we knew about those as we grew up with them, common Ayurvedic remedies. My grandfather had this Ayurvedic ‘bible’ which he used to refer to all the time. That’s why we bought in the ayurvedic supplements, even though some were already available on the market.
The main difference is with our products is that we use the whole plant, not just the extract. We always try to use the whole product as Ayurveda encourages the use the whole product, rather than extract alone. This ensures it remains pure and not changed in any way by use of solvents or different extraction methods. We try to keep everything it in its purest form.
Exception to this is our curcumin, which is the extract of Turmeric, but it is done in a natural way and is certified organic. 95% of the product is active ingredient curcumin. We use whole turmeric a lot in our cooking, but if we need it for certain therapeutic reasons, this supplement will have greater benefit.
What is it like being a small business owner in New Zealand?
I love being a small business owner in NZ. Even before introducing Neem, we had always wanted to do something good for society. Actually, when Green Trading first began, we started with organic food, that was our main business but after a while stopped as it was difficult with storage and wasn’t happy with fumigation etc. At the same time, we were also selling palm leaf plates, which are compostable plates. Unfortunately, there were issues with cost and shipping and lead to us pivoting to Neem.
We started in a garage with small storage space. Then we need to expand, we thought maybe a warehouse, but then instead of investing in a warehouse, we decided to move to a property where we can have big containers or sheds there. That is when we moved to Oratia (West Auckland, NZ).
There was always an intention behind the Green Trading philosophy to make eco-friendly products or those that are environmentally friendly. That is the goal.
Can you tell us about some of your guiding business practices?
Its really important for us to be actively involved in all aspects of the business. Not just sitting behind a computer, searching for suppliers etc we want to see the whole supply chain. We want to know a grower, supplier and manufacturer.
Initially when we started, we visited farms and talked to workers about their pay, working conditions and if the company was taking care of them and their family. Once we see this is all happening in a way were happy with, as well as producing quality materials, we begin a partnership.
We get lots of emails every day, from suppliers offering us raw material at a cheaper cost, but we don’t engage. Because, once we build the relationship, it is not broken until it is absolutely necessary.
We also feel it’s important we actually live with the same philosophy, caring for people and the planet, so we have solar panels where we generate power in a sustainable way. We used to have our own chickens for eggs (before being vegan), we grow most of our leafy vegetables at home and try to use electric vehicles.
Money isn’t the sole driver or measure of success for us, sure it’s important, we need to pay wages and bills etc, but it’s not the only thing we consider in business. We trust that if we are doing good and staying true to our values and beliefs in all aspects, we hope to receive good in return.
We don’t believe in simply following a trend, because there will be gaps. There is a living philosophy behind Green Trading, what we do in life and how we act or make decisions is what we do in business too.
What is involved in the operations here in New Zealand?
The whole business is run and operated from Oratia (NZ).
There are a range of products that we get contract manufactured in NZ, as we can’t make it all (shampoo etc). It is made off site at proper facilities then sent to us in big containers where we bottle down, label, pack and ship.
Small products like the lip balm, face oil, body oil and tooth powder are able to be mixed by ourselves on site.
Encapsulating is done in a proper facility so to meet and BioGro standards. We don’t want to take this on ourselves as we need to be able to do it properly, ensuring safety and quality. These facilities follow ISO and GMP standards/processes. Powders are also handled, in these facilities.
What kind of standards and certifications do the Green Trading product meet?
All our products are tested and if it doesn’t meet standards, it is rejected. Were very picky, so we check for contaminants such as heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides, moulds and other toxins. Our first choice is organic. We wanted to be able to have full transparency of where and how the product is grown, to how it is processed. All products have certificate of analysis.
There are small steps that we always take, despite cost, to ensure quality but also in the hope that is gives our customers assurance that they can trust in our products.
For example, our BioGro certification is very important. I have seen similar product available that use 3rd party certifications. Writing USDA certified organic on the label, but there is no licence number, or they use a supplier’s licence number. But you really don’t know in these situations what goes on throughout the many processes involved, from grower, to supplier, to DC.
So, we decided BioGro was the way we could ensure we had a reputable and well recognised certification here in NZ.
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