Thursday, June 24, 2010

Excerpts from the Meloto Sisters Interview

Sisters Anna Meloto-Wilk and Camille Meloto: Practicing Social Enterprise with Human Nature

They’ve just broken into the US market with their all-natural, pro-Pinoy personal care brand--and the two Meloto sisters show no sign of slowing down. By Stephanie Castillo


Socially responsible sisters Camille (left) and Anna (right) Meloto

Anna Meloto-Wilk and Camille Meloto aren’t your average sisters—and it isn’t just because their father is Gawad Kalinga creator Tony Meloto. Beyond their famously philanthropic bloodline, Anna, 30, and Camille, 23, are making a name for themselves in both local and international trade with their all-natural personal care brand, Human Nature. The brand’s claim to fame? It’s 100 percent organic, 100 percent chemical-free, and 100 percent Philippine-grown—not to mention incredibly affordable.

In an age when going organic has developed into a sustainable lifestyle, rather than an idealistic trend, Anna and Camille’s vision to make the country as eco-friendly and socially-responsible as possible is fast taking shape. As Human Nature expands its reach from the Philippine shores to several states in the US—and hopefully, to other great nations in the Orient—what was once a casual idea has now turned into a thriving social enterprise, more concerned with pro-human practices than it is with profit.

In this exclusive interview with Female Network, the marvelous Meloto sisters discuss the urgency of going green (even if that means doing everything “old school”) and demonstrate the winning dynamic between two siblings that can make a business prosper. Read on!

FN: What made you decide to go into business together?

Anna: It wasn’t a very difficult decision; it just evolved very naturally. We were thrown together with no one else to turn to in the US when my husband (Dylan Wilk, once the 9th richest man in England and now a leading advocate for Gawad Kalinga) was assigned there for a year. One thing that we’re both very interested in is cosmetics and beauty products, and [Camille] has actually been into makeup since she was a kid. She was applying lip balm and lip gloss as early as second grade!

Being in the US [exposed us to] a cosmetic haven, because there are so many new things that you can try out... especially natural products. [Here in the Philippines], what was frustrating and disappointing was that the natural products were all so expensive, and even if you had [enough] income it just didn’t feel right to keep buying overpriced products, [since it] didn’t seem sustainable. So my sister and I were really surprised when in the US we saw firsthand all the natural products available in drug stores and in groceries—with price points that were similar to commercially available, affordable, synthetic products.

At that time I had been out of the corporate world for maybe two years already and I was really itching to start working again but not in a corporate setting. My sister, on the other hand, was a fresh grad. So [when we got the idea of making our own natural product line], it was really a coming-together of different but shared interests, a bonding experience for me and my sister.

When we got back to the Philippines, we didn’t let go of that idea, and we [eventually] launched Human Nature in November of 2008. It’s barely been two years and right now we already have over a hundred SKUs, 7000 dealers, 12 branches, [including outlets] in the US—and just last month we sold our millionth product!

FN: Tell us about Human Nature. What sets it apart from other green brands?

Anna: Our biggest selling point when we were brainstorming about [the brand] is that we wanted it to be pro-Philippines. We were deliberate in the sense that we wanted to use ingredients and raw materials that can be grown in the Philippines, because our vision is to eventually source everything from the Philippines. When we started looking at the ingredients [of all the natural products in the States], we noticed that there was always a lot of coconut oil—and the Philippines is one of the top exporters of coconut oil in the world, so what’s preventing us from coming up with these products ourselves?

Currently we source a lot of [ingredients] locally but we also have to import some raw materials because they’re not available here. From abroad we source natural preservatives like sunflower oil—but we also make it a point to come up with products that contain virgin coconut oil, citronella, and lemongrass because those are all available in the Philippines. We also use guava, eucalyptus, rose berry, [and other] herbs that are grown here.

We want to educate communities to grow [these materials as a] business… to provide themselves with a sustainable lifestyle. In fact, on May 8, [we did] our soft launch with the first Human Nature demo farm in Bulacan.

To all those who love Human Nature products and would like to read the entire interview, click this link

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