Just like most parents with young children and pets, Steve and Patricia Hess were concerned about toxins and chemicals around their home.
“We were always locking cabinets when our kids were little, so they wouldn’t get into the cleaning products,” said Steve Hess, a retired engineer and father of two children, ages 10 and 12.
For their peace of mind, the couple, who live in the Cornell corridor of Agoura, decided to make their own cleaning products. “There were so many products out there that were labeled as green or natural but still contained some unnatural ingredients,” said Hess.
Soon, friends and family began clamoring for their homemade cleaning products. “We already had a following and some built-in word-of-mouth advertising even before we had a business,” he said.
Early this year, the couple launched EarthScents. Locally sourced, in reusable packaging and with natural, essential oils, the products have been well received, said Hess.
“It’s for anybody that’s concerned about chemicals in their home,” he said of their people-safe and animal-safe line of products that are “tough on dirt but gentle on the planet.”
, Lassen’s Natural Foods, The Traveling Mop Shop and PC Greens are just some of the stores that carry Terra Tough Scrub, a powder scrub, and Terra Firma, an all-purpose spray cleaner.
Mary Weisbrock started using the Terra Firma two months ago.
“It’s a wonderful product that can be used not only on windows but in the microwave and bathroom mirrors as well,” said the Agoura Hills resident who favors the lemongrass scent.
“We’re trying to stay local and distribute mostly through single outlet stores,” said Hess.
As part of his low carbon footprint vision, Hess is very keen on staying local, from labor to materials.
The recyclable plastic bottles come from Simi Valley while the bottle labels are sourced from Orange County. The aromatherapy oils are from Northern California.
This same vision is also part of the reason why Hess has shown some reluctance in making his products available online.
“With shipping, I worry about too much packaging,” he said. “We’re still looking into a more ecological way to move our products around, maybe through regional fulfillment centers eventually.”
As a socially and environmentally responsible company, EarthScents has partnered with Heal The Bay Foundation. The environmental non-profit organization recently received its first check for $500 from the company.
“Their commitment to the environment, sustainability and quality of life is in line with ours,” said Hess of his company’s progressive business model.
EarthScents has promised to donate 5 percent of profits to help clean Southern California’s beaches and watersheds.
In the meantime, Hess remains devoted to developing more earth-friendly and biodegradable products and possibly introducing refilling stations at stores.
“It’s tough in this down economy," he said. "But we’re committed and very customer-driven."