Before Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan came along, cleaning products smelled toxic and were hidden under the kitchen sink. Lowry and Ryan changed this when they started Method, an eco-friendly cleaning supply company with aesthetic appeal, which sells its products in mainstream retail stores across the country.
Their journey to such incredible success was a combination of hard work and a well-matched pair of entrepreneurs.
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” said Ryan, co-founder of Method. “I always liked the idea of taking a mature, well-understood category and finding out what cultural shift it had missed. So I started looking at the household cleaning category in 1999 and it was so big, but yet everything seemed so similar and it was just a sea of sameness.”
Ryan, however, saw something different.
“When I dug in, I realized they had missed two cultural shifts; life-styling of the home or making attractive products, and the health and wellness, sustainability movement,” said Ryan, who along with Lowry and author Lucas Conley recently released “The Method Method: Seven Obsessions That Helped Our Scrappy Start-Up Turn an Industry Upside-Down” (Portfolio Hardcover, 2011).
It was these market opportunities that Ryan and Lowry thought they could capitalize on. The two childhood friends formed the perfect team, with Ryan using his past knowledge in advertising to brand the products, and Lowry using his chemical engineering degree to make non-toxic cleaning products. Their creations soon became a small success when 90 local grocery stores began to carry them. After gaining more investments totaling $1 million in 2001, the two set their sights on a larger operation. Ryan and Lowry soon got their wish in a phone call from retail superstore Target.
“There were three people working out of our one-room office and getting Target to nationally authorize your product is like winning the Super Bowl of capitalism,” Ryan said. “They didn’t us nationally until 2003 after running a test in Chicago and Northern California in 2002. We ultimately failed that test in terms of the metrics that they wanted us to pass, but they realized that we were driving a lot of growth to the category and that is ultimately what got us a national authorization.”
Target was just the first of several major stores to carry Method products. The company now sells products ranging from cleaning supplies and shampoos to laundry detergents and hand sanitizers in stores in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Japan and Canada.
Small steps to success
The success behind Method is simple, Ryan said.
“If you are trying to start a new business, it is only going to be a success if no one has done it before,” Ryan said. “Which means you need to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. So if you are going down a predictable path and making no mistakes, chances are what you are doing is not very different or remarkable. You need to be able to put something out there, learn from it, react from it and move to the next step.”
Learning from mistakes and successes is the key to growing your business, but more important, one must read the signs along the way.
“I never really thought there was one place where I was like, ‘This could work,'” Ryan said. “There were lots of little clues along the way. The clues start early when you share your concept with people and they offer to invest or help out. Another one was when we tried to get someone to make the product for us and we got someone to agree. Then we got a store manager to agree to carry it. Then consumers bought products in those first stores and we got a major chain to carry it. Finally, a national chain carried it.”
Despite taking years for that scenario to play out, Ryan believes the signs along the way are the best indicators of future success.
“There were tons of little milestones along the way that ultimately build up to your confidence of saying this is a success,” Ryan said. “It took years for me to say this is viable.”
“Viable” may be an understatement. Ten years after its founding, the company has 100 employees working in its San Francisco office and more than $100 million in annual sales.
Timing is everything
Taking advantage of opportunities is the key to the success of Method, but, according to Ryan, it must come at the right time.
“The biggest lesson I learned is that business is really about timing and how to pace yourself,” Ryan said. “Going too fast can kill you and going too slow can kill you. It is really important to know the right speed to grow your company. It’s a bit of a clichée, but it is really about riding the wave.”
For those who are afraid to get into the water, though, Ryan believes living in regret is much more frightening than the risk of business failure.
“There are so many people who want to take the leap and start a business,” Ryan said. “It scares a lot of people to take the risk, but I always remind them , what’s the worst that could happen and what would you do if it does happen? If you can answer those two questions it takes a lot of the fear out of moving forward.”
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Launched in 2001, Method was conceived by two former roommates to offer eco-friendly, safe and effective home cleaning products. Out to prove that being green is cool, chief brand architect,” Eric Ryan and “chief greenskeeper,” Adam Lowry, created a line of products in attractive, modern packaging that they refer to as “recyclable plastic art” — worthy of being left out on bathroom and kitchen counters. In the past, with Clorox Greenworks, we’ve argued that efficacy is important even when it comes to cleaning products, so we have to ask: Is Method truly green or does it hide behind cool packaging that attracts mainstream popularity?
The company has been credited for “single-handedly turning the consumer packaged-goods industry on its head,” and justifiably so. Method only had $300,000 in start-up capital in 2003, but was making profitable revenues of $45 million by 2006. In 2002, the company effectively stepped into the mainstream with a distribution deal through Target, and also opened an office in the UK. In fact, before Greenworks came on the scene in 2008, Method held more than 60% of the environmentally-friendly cleaning market, and it continues to grow at more than 13% despite Clorox’s go at a sustainable line.
So the question remains, considering that there are no current governmental standards on green cleaning products, what does Method do to ensure its efficacy and green self? For this particular analysis we’ll go inside-out.
Every single ingredient in their formulas, including the packaging materials, are assessed and scored by the Environmental Protection and Encouragement Agency, an independent research institute led by Dr. Michael Braugart, author of Cradle to Cradle. Method has been recognized by Dr. Braugart and his team as a Cradle to Cradle company, a holistic way of creating products that Method has integrated into every part of the company. Method also works with the Design for the Environment (DfE) office of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has recognized more than 50 of their products to be safe for people and the environment.
Their packaging is not only cool, but it also carries a conscience. All of Method’s bottles are completely recyclable and made from 100% recycled plastic whenever possible. The design of the packages themselves is scored against Method’s very own “green card” program which ensures that the packaging design considers recyclability, packaging weight, reusability and compostability.
Method’s greenness also seeps into company policies, as they are actively making efforts to be a completely carbon-neutral business and have purchased wind and solar energy credits to offset their carbon footprint. Their building is LEED-certified and has recycling and composting systems (with the worms to prove it) set-up throughout. They even offer financial incentives to encourage employee use of public or self-propelled transportation to and from the office.
Finally, Method is beginning to look at their supply chain. They have additional financial incentives set in place for suppliers that employ sustainability initiatives including on-site renewable energy generation and the use of energy-efficient equipment. Additionally, they’ve formed partnerships with the largest contract carrier in the US to ship products in Method-branded trucks that run on biodiesel. With energy- and water-efficiency reporting programs in place at all factories, Method worked closely with one factory to find a way to recapture all process water, losing none of it down the drain.
IS IT GREEN?
Yes, through and through, from company to product, Method can live up to the standards of dark greenies, while remaining trendy enough to attract thousands of Target consumers.
+ Cradle to Cradle
Cleaning house doesn’t have to be a bummer — all you need are the right products!
Whether you’re fixing up the bedroom, bathroom or kitchen, there’s probably a lot of work to do. So, TODAY consulted three cleaning experts — Jan Dougherty, author of “The Lost Art of House Cleaning,” Beth McGee, who wrote “Get Your House Clean Now,” and Melissa Maker, author of “Clean My Space” — who shared their favorite products and tools to get any house spotless in no time.
1. White Vinegar
This multipurpose product is so outstanding, it was recommended by all three experts. “White vinegar is great for getting rid of bad odors, cutting grease and shining glass,” said Maker. “Something like cleaning vinegar might take an area in your home that might look hopeless and transform it and make it look clean and shiny.”
Dougherty swears by it for cleaning sealed wood furniture, glass and even fabric. When used on a rag to wipe down glass, it eliminates the waxy look left by common glass cleaners and lasts longer than most other cleaners. You can also pour it into a spray bottle and mist onto carpets, drapes and upholstered furniture for a dustless and odorless result.
2. Microfiber Cloths
“Microfiber cloths cut my cleaning time probably around 20 to 30%, and they are reusable,” said Maker. “They are very absorbent; not only for dirt, but for liquid.”
A microfiber cloth can absorb up to eight times its weight, making it the perfect, eco-friendly cleaning solution. Hint: You might want to buy these in bulk since you’ll be using them for everything!
3. Canister Vacuum Cleaner
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Every home needs a versatile vacuum. A good one can suck the dirt off everything from rugs and floors to even the walls. “It is just a necessary tool for really getting your house clean,” said McGee. “Sweeping, Swiffering, none of that is going to get your house as clean as it needs to be.”
4. Krud Kutter
Dougherty describes this powerful cleanser as “for your whole world and everything in it.” She said bathroom and kitchen dirt are both primarily grease. So, she asked, “What better product to clean grease with than a degreaser?”
She suggested mixing the biodegradable, nontoxic cleanser with water in a five to one ratio for regular cleaning. Soak a terry cloth in it and put it on the end of a Swiffer mop to wipe down floors. And, to remove particularly nasty stains from carpets and furniture, spray full-strength Krud Kutter on a rag and apply it to the stain, step on it (don’t rub) and repeat.
5. Castile Soap
Diluted, vegetable-based Castile soap makes a useful all-purpose cleaner, according to Maker. “The great thing about Castile soap is you always get this nice squeaky clean feel,” she said. “It’s nice for people who don’t like enchanted forest or lemon fresh or whatever the scent you find with cleaning companies.”
6. Colgate Extra Clean Full Head Toothbrush
“Anytime you have the urge to scratch something with your fingernail, that’s a good time to use a toothbrush,” Maker suggested. Toothbrushes come in handy for tiny nooks and crannies that other cleaning supplies won’t fit in.
You know those discolored little rings around your sink drains? Mix some Castile soap and baking soda together then scrub with a toothbrush. The best part is: You probably already have an extra one lying around the house.
7. Bar Keepers Friend Powdered Cleanser & Polish
“It’s a pretty universal product. It’s not an offensive odor or anything like that, and it won’t scratch,” said McGee. It can be used on dishes, sinks, stoves and glass since it’s nonabrasive.
8. Toilet Brush with Hideaway Holder
McGee uses a toilet brush to clean her kitchen floors. Seriously.
“It has a long enough handle to make it easier so you are not on the floor scrubbing and it has very stiff bristles,” McGee said. So convenient!
9. Spray Bottles
Buckets should not be allowed anywhere near home cleaning because dunking a rag repeatedly into contaminated water and product mixtures will only make your house dirtier, Dougherty said. Instead, she advised clients to invest in a few spray bottles and transfer all products into them as soon as they buy them.
Looking for ways to organize all of this cleaning supplies? Check out the articles below for some suggestions:
- The 1 thing you need to organize your cleaning supplies — and keep kids safe
- How a $14 rack with more than 5,000 reviews gave me back my storage closet
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Over the past year, I have switched several of my cleaning products to healthier commercial cleaning brands. While I’ll always have my homemade cleaners in my back pocket, I really needed items that I could just grab and use. Now, I’m not opposed to using more conventional products during my housekeeping routine when necessary, but it is nice to use things that are less toxic and smell amazing, too! I’ve compiled a little list of the best cleaning products for 2018. These are the essential cleaning supplies for your home.
The Best Cleaning Products for 2018
Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap
Let’s start with this dish soap. It smells absolutely amazing. If you dread washing dishes, this dish soap takes a little of that drudgery out of it because it becomes a nice aromatherapeutic experience. I was skeptical if this soap would cut the grease as well as my beloved Dawn, but it did a good job!
Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap
Not necessarily a cleaning product, but I love to keep the hand soap at the kitchen sink by the dish soap. It’s nice to have quick access to soap to wash your hands while in the kitchen, and this stuff smells just as amazing as the dish soap.
Method Daily Shower Spray
The first time I found this product was an accident. We were renting a house and the landlord left this in the bathroom. I love the Ylang Ylang scent. It kind of reminds me of baby powder. This stuff is amazing for helping to keep your shower clean. Our master bathroom shower is horrible about getting moldy, and I’ve noticed that this product really helps to cut down on the amount I have to clean when I do my bathroom zone cleaning routine.
Method Daily Wood Cleaner
For my wood furniture like my kitchen table, my end tables, and other wood stuff, I use this daily wood cleaner. It has a yummy almond scent and works well to get any gunk off the wood.
Caldrea Room and Linen Spray
So, if you want to make your home smell amazing, you have to try the Caldrea room spray. They offer a variety of scents and the smell lingers in the room. Use it to spray curtains, throw pillows, rugs, and upholstered furniture for a fresh smelling room.
Method All Purpose Spray
I use the Method All Purpose spray to clean everything. I use it on my countertops, my stove top, and anything else that needs a good wipe down. Pink grapefruit is my favorite.
Clorox Toilet Wand
So, this isn’t a natural product, but I love it because it makes cleaning the toilet so easy! You don’t even need to use an additional toilet cleaner if you don’t want to.
And there you have it! My favorite cleaning products for 2018! These are all items that I am currently using in my home, and will continue using this year.
More posts to read:
2018 Cleaning Calendars
Weekly Zone Cleaning