Sydney mum Julie Mathers is about as close as you can come to being Superwoman in real life. She is mum to 16-month-old Woody, who lives with Down Syndrome, and welcomed her second bub Alfie into the world in May. But it’s not her two boys that keep her up at night, it’s her third baby, online eco-store ‘Flora & Fauna’!
Julie is extremely passionate about businesses ‘doing better for our planet’ which is why she launched Flora and Fauna, an online hub for everything ethical, sustainable, eco and cruelty-free. The business is entirely Australian owned and operated and stocks a range of ethical Aussie brands from skincare to beauty to homewares and fashion.
We love you because you’re a mum juggling babes and biz. Tell us about your family.
Firstly I have an absolute amazing partner, Tom, both in F&F and at home. We are such a good team when it comes to everything. Then we have the beautiful Woody and Alfie, two little boys I didn’t think I’d ever have. I’m now 44 and only fell pregnant with Woody when I was 42. And then Alfie came along very quickly afterwards. The old wives tales about being fertile are true!
What were you up to before you started Flora & Fauna?
I’ve worked in retail for close to 30 years now and I’ve worked in the UK, Europe, Japan and Australia, in retail, consultancy and private equity – all retail focused. I’ve worked across supermarkets, toy stores, garden centres, fashion and lots more. Retail is in my bones and I love it.
How does one suddenly decide to start an online eco-store?
For me it wasn’t so sudden as I’d worked in retail for so long and was looking for a more purposeful business to work for for quite some time. I just couldn’t find a business that matched my values and somewhere where I had free rein to what I needed to do. I wanted to create a better business, one that is more purposeful and uses their power to do good so I created Flora & Fauna, a platform for purpose.
Not only do you sell incredible eco-friendly products but your entire business ticks many eco-boxes, including plastic-free shipping and B-Certification. Tell us about all of these.
We’re really proud to be able to do what we can and use our business for good. That’s what being a B Corp is all about, it’s being a force for good. We’ve saved over 30 tonnes of plastic heading to landfill by changing our shipping packaging to be totally plastic-free. We did this in 2016 and we’d love more businesses to do this. We also have a recycling scheme where customers can send their plastic beauty packaging to us and we get it recycled keeping it out of landfill. Plus customers earn $10 for recycling. We also carbon offset our business and all the orders we send out, plus we also work with the community and charities. Lastly we focus heavily on diversity and I am very passionate about that.
What are your must have everyday eco products for beauty, for home?
For home I love compostable dishcloths, wire clothes pegs and my Urban Composter – it’s the perfect way to start composting your scraps in the kitchen. I’m slightly obsessed with mine. For me I can’t get past shampoo and conditioner bars – they are a fantastic way to save on plastic and work really well too.
I find I also need a really good oil every day to really nourish my skin so I love Retreatment Botanic’s Restore Serum and Edible Beauty’s Sleeping Beauty Purifying Mousse at night.
They are both gorgeous Aussie brands too!
Tell us about your favourite products for the kids that we might not know about.
Reusable nappies are my favourite! They are brilliant and they’ve come a long way from the terry towelling nappies we were in. These ones are beautiful and waterproof to avoid leaks and spills. Really love them. I can’t recommend them enough. My other favourite is sleep suits if you want a good nights sleep!
What’s it like juggling two small kids and a business?
We have to prioritise like a pro! Time is not our friend so we can only do this by being super flexible with how we work and by being a team. I’ll go into work one day, then Tom the next and we do a lot of work at night. We’re really focused on doing everything we can for our boys and Woody also has speech therapy and physio so we need to be relatively organised although it never feels like that – we feel like we live in a constant state of flux!
Funniest parenting moment so far?
Because my babies are so small most of the funny episodes revolve around keeping food and liquid inside them in one way or another. We’re both figuring out how to be parents, as everyone does, and the shared moments, when we are totally clueless, are the funniest for us….and should probably always stay between us!
What can we expect next from Flora & Fauna?
Right now we’re getting through this pandemic and making sure our team, customers and community are as safe as can be. But beyond this we’ll keep coming out with amazing solutions to help us reduce waste and live life more sustainably, so keep watching!
Finally, where can we find you?
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