“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Philip Pullman
Therefore, as a new initiative in 2013, we bring to you our Entrepreneur Stories series – a series of tales where every fortnight we feature one of our own, an Ennovent Network member who is creating a strong positive impact within the communities they work. We aim to celebrate the achievements of these entrepreneurs and discover new opportunities for creating markets amongst low-income people in developing countries.
This month we are featuring Kimberly Merenz from Fabled Frog. We talked to her about her entrepreneurial journey and future plans.
“The environment pays the true price for the products we consume”, says Kimberly Merenz, biologist and now founder of Fabled Frog Soaps.
Even before Kimberly knew what an ecosystem was she could notice the impact humans had on it. While growing up at a small lake in Pennsylvania she saw the impact of human choices directly on the lake she played in and around. As the area became more populated there was a distinct difference in the water quality of the lake as the septic system for each house around the lake was draining into the water.
As the lake became more and more polluted, many of Kimberly’s favorite nature experiences, like the call of the bull frogs on hot summer nights, nearly disappeared.
“When water quality is affected, amphibians are normally the first to disappear. Today nearly 40% of amphibians are at a risk of extinction,” states Kimberly.
The impact humans are having on various ecosystems, especially wetlands, is what propelled Kimberly towards creating sustainable products. She started by making soaps for her family, as many brands available in the stores contain harmful chemicals that affect wetland plants and animals. After a few years of making products for her family, she expanded her vision and established Fabled Frog.
Fabled Frog plays an imprortant role conserving the environment through the creation of soaps that are handcrafted in smalled batches, individually cut and made using sustainable, fair trade organic products whenever available.
Kimberly adds, “By using products that require the least amount of processing such as Pure Avocado Oil from Kenya, Cold pressed Babassu Oil from Brazil and Jojoba Oil from Northwestern Mexico we are able to provide a wholesome product that not only benefits your skin but also enables the indigenous communities that these products are sourced from to make a fair living”.
Beyond just Kimberly’s regional lake plant and animal life, amphibian ecosystems in many of the world’s tropical forests are being destroyed at alarming rates for the production of oils and the harvest of tropical species for the cosmetics and essential oils industry.
Recognizing this, to reduce the company’s environmental footprint, Fabled Frog refuses to use oils normally found in soaps such as soybean, sandalwood and rosewood as there is much controversy about the agricultural practices used to extract these oils. Fabled Frog is committed to “first, doing no harm”.
In addition to production processes, at Fabled Frog the goal is also to achieve zero plastic. In order to do so, Kimberly demands packaging alternatives from suppliers and currently neither their soap packaging nor their shipping materials contain plastic.
Fabled Frog also uses soap wrappers produced from paper handcrafted in Nepal from the Lokta plant and labels produced from recycled paper that is chlorine free. Moreover, the soap molds are made from 100% compostable material and even 50% of the electricity and heat used for production and administrative work is sourced from renewable sources.
In recent years, Fabled Frog has introduced a wide variety of soap products. From a basic bath bar, the company now produces a Carrot Bath Bar, Pumice Bath Bar and a Manly Bar to name a few. The company is also a certified member of the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild and a member of 1% for the Planet where they donate 15% of Fabled Frog profits to restore wetland habitats.
By providing a responsibly crafted product, educating customers about the environmental impact their choices create and giving them the opportunity to make a difference, Fabled Frog is taking bold steps to conserve biodiversity and provide healthier skincare alternatives.
Today, many years later, the lake near Kimberly’s childhood home has a sewer management system and is slowly recovering. However, the health of the frogs has forever been altered.
It is therefore important that businesses follow in the footsteps of Fabled Frog to make lifestyle and business changes that preserve our global biodiversity for the generations to come.
Kimberly Merenz is part of the Ennovent Global Network – a community of 4000+ entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and experts that work together to discover, startup, finance & scale the best innovations for sustainability in low-income markets. Does your enterprise focus on making an impact? Join the Ennovent Network now.