After years of working in the textile and homewares industry, Phoebe Yu knew first-hand just how unsustainable the industry was. She could see its increasingly negative impact on the environment and so she was inspired to start up her own company – called ettitude.
She did this in 2014 in Melbourne in Australia, producing organic, vegan bedding because she wanted to create an environmentally-focused homewares brand that could make a difference.
By staying true to her purpose, ettitude flourished and in 2018, Yu moved to the US and set up the global headquarters for ettitude in LA.
We asked Yu why she moved ettitude’s headquarters to the US?
“We expanded into the US to more efficiently manage our global customer base, grow our brand into the US market and partner up with a wider range of like-minded companies and taste-makers,” she said.
“All of this is at the service of our founding mission to create a more comfortable world for all—reaching a larger audience gives us the opportunity to highlight our offering and decrease the need for customers to purchase less sustainable alternatives. From a logistics standpoint, having a distribution centre and staff in both the US and Australia allows us to better service our customers and streamline our operation.
“The access to capital and investment in the US was also a major draw card for us. While Australia is making huge strides forward in the startup space, the US startup sector is more evolved and the opportunity to raise a seed round was stronger for us there,” Yu added.
When you were starting out, what were your main goals and priorities?
“I founded the brand to explore how we could all live comfortably without damaging the planet, and from there began focusing on the textile space. This was an area I knew well from my previous career in homewares and logistics, and I know just how toxic and damaging textile production can be.
“My driving goal was to create a next generation fabric that could be used in multiple applications that would save water, minimise waste and prove that quality and comfort did not have to be sacrificed in the end result,” Yu said.
Why was it important to you that ettitude is a sustainable company?
“How could it not be? We’re in a climate emergency. For me, there could be no choice in how I wanted to run ettitude as a new brand and business. From day one, ettitude has been all about living with eco-attitude. It’s not just about one particular facet of our lifestyles but rather taking a bigger picture view of how we can all live with more consideration towards sustainability and the planet,” said Yu.
How long did it take you to set up ettitude and what were some of your biggest challenges along the way?
“It took about two years to develop our proprietary bamboo lyocell, or CleanBambooTM. I worked with a textile university in Shanghai to develop this world-first textile, and this was by far the greatest challenge to get right. It took a lot of trial and error to ensure we had a fabric that was sustainably made without toxic chemicals, but that was also very soft and long-lasting. One of the most challenging aspects of starting a business is achieving a strong ‘flow’, whether that’s cash, product, supply or demand, so my experience definitely helped,” Yu said.
Ettitude is now using the world’s first 100% organic bamboo lyocell fabric. How did you come to ‘discover’ or ‘invent’ this fabric?
“A lot of research, trial and error. The concept of bamboo fabric was not new, and I understood the benefits of using bamboo as a resource – it’s a fast regenerating plant and when applied in a textile creates a more cooling, breathable fabric that is also thermo-regulating and hypoallergenic.
“However most bamboo fabric is made using rayon or viscose and treated using toxic chemicals which are bad for the planet as well as our skin. Working with experts, we looked at how we could naturally and gently treat the bamboo and pair it with lyocell to create a super soft, breathable textile,” she added.
You’ve said you have a love of technology and sustainability – do you feel ettitude has combined these passions of yours with products reflecting them?
“We’re a tech-enabled company in a few different ways. Ettitude is a direct to consumer brand – technology has empowered us to cut out the middleman and offer our products online at a more affordable price to customers.
“At a deeper, operational level, we create our signature CleanBambooTM textile in an innovative, closed-loop system that recycles 98 per cent of water in the process. When compared to cotton, one set of our signature bamboo sheets requires just one tenth of the water. Sustainability is in our DNA as a brand and a business, and guides every new product we create,” she added.
You’ve just raised AUD $2.5 million dollars recently. What are you putting this towards and why?
“This money will go toward product category expansion, further research into our environmental footprint and the continued growth of our team.”
What are your plans for ettitude moving forward?
“This year and next, we are looking into new and improved ways of quantifying our impact, and will continue to develop a wider range of products made using our CleanBamboo. Ultimately, our plans are and always will be to continue to advocate for a better and healthier planet for all,” said Yu.
“There is a growing desire among customers to really live their values. With ettitude , we definitely live and breathe the understanding that we all want to live better, more comfortable lives while protecting and caring for the planet,” she added.
Ettitude makes sustainably-made bedding, sleepwear, bathware and accessories all made from the world’s first CleanBamboo™ fabric. The products are all organic, vegan and 100 per cent cruelty free. The brand’s signature, innovative
CleanBamboo™ fabric is feathery soft, thermo-regulating, breathable, antimicrobial and water-saving.
The company’s mission is to offer a more sustainable, high-quality alternative to traditional homeware options. Ettitude does this through a direct-to-consumer model that allows savings to be passed on to the customer, while ensuring minimal environmental impact of its operation.
All of ettitude’s bamboo is sourced through FSC-certified forests and ettitude partners with WRAP to ensure the ethical treatment of factory workers. Each fiscal year, ettitude donates 1% of profits from its bedding sales to 1% For The
Planet and ettitude partners with One Girl to support the education of disadvantaged girls across the world.
For more information on ettitude and its products go to ettitude.com.au