You & Bamboo Founder Danielle (Dani) Frazer is a young entrepreneur with a passion for green, ethical and innovative business. “When I was at school I was taught to pick a career and stick with it, this never sat well with me. For me, there was always more to life than simply working for the point of working.”
Dani created You & Bamboo when no one could answer her question; “Why isn’t sustainable clothing more accessible?”
“I just couldn’t understand why the majority of clothing and other products on the market weren’t sustainable, and why the products that were, we so expensive. To me, it made sense to sell and produce products that were favourable to the environment and favourable to the person wearing it. Why would you produce products that destroy our planet, are not good for us and are just simply not ethical?
“I couldn’t understand why businesses hadn’t prioritised ethical, sustainable and eco practices.” Says Dani
What is now evident to Dani, is that many businesses don’t realise the amazing opportunity they have to make a positive impact on their consumers, their local community and the environment overall by producing sustainable products.
“So many people just don’t know what goes into their products and the long-term impact that they have on every aspect of their lives. Even the simple consumer choice of which toothbrush you buy, holds a significant impact on the environment and the future of our children’s world”
Dani’s journey to green entrepreneurship has been a long and often harrowing one. Dani grew up in Wamberal on the Central Coast, raised by her father as a single dad, her mother passed away in her early 20’s.
“I think life journeys have carved me to be who I am in a lot of ways. It’s probably pushed me.” she says.
“Dad is very much a businessman. He successfully developed his own accountancy practice. He has always had a lot of focus and is very much an inspiration for me.” she says. But her father is also an alternative thinker with decidedly hippy leanings that rubbed off on Dani, with an interest in sustainability and challenging the way we are taught to ‘do life’ from a young age.
At 19, Dani fell seriously ill with, a rare and potentially life-threatening condition. “I think that shook my world up a bit, after this my values began to change. I think it was at this point I started really evaluating life, and exploring my impact on the world” she says.
Not long after, against family recommendations, she left her secure and stable job to travel and study. Four years later, Dani had completed a Bachelor of Communication while travelling and working her way around Australia. When she settled in Coffs Harbour she landed a contract developing and running social media workshops for young business owners. This was the beginning of her journey to gradually build, her experience and skills in education as a business facilitator, coach and mentor.
It was at this time she started the initial workings of You & Bamboo, a hobby business she thought. When she combined her work as a business consultant with her interest in business, sustainability and education, Dani felt like she’d found her calling.“That was a really big goal I wanted to achieve and just started working towards it. I started doing business training and studying sustainability.” she says. “I started developing VET qualifications and training programs, a solid journey of knowledge building. I now develop business training, mentoring programs’ for major providers, schools and the Queensland Government. I create the content, training modalities and delivery. The key area I enjoy is training other trainers, as I feel this has one of the greatest impacts.”
Her interest in bamboo as a fabric began with a shopping trip with her brother, who was determined to find men’s boxers made of bamboo, because of their comfort and durability. She was aware that cotton was one of the least sustainable, most chemically-intensive crops on the planet and alternatives were sorely needed. Bamboo, requiring no irrigation or pesticides, seemed like a miracle fabric.
“The initial thing was, how can clothing be made of bamboo, like, what the? And then I started researching it and I couldn’t see any flaws. It was super soft. It was really durable. I was really focused on the environmental aspects of it and there were so many advantages. The more I researched it, the more addicted I got to it all.”
Now, Dani runs her own retail store in Cabarita, an online retail business as well as a wholesale service, selling her range of “timeless essentials”comfortable, practical wardrobe staples that capture a natural, casual elegance. Her own fashion philosophy is to negate the pressure to achieve a certain look and allow women in particular to embrace their natural beauty.
You and Bamboo products are priced to be accessible, but not too cheap, valued as long-lasting quality items. “That’s probably the downfall of our profit margins because you sell a pair of undies and you won’t see the customer for two to three years because they last so long.” she jokes.
Dani’s biggest challenge might be heeding her own advice and avoiding the most common mistake she sees in business. “It’s about work/life balance. Entrepreneurs are very focused and they forget about the bigger picture and what they’re really trying to create for their life, and that’s a personal challenge for me because I get so excited about what I’m doing.”
But for now her mission to inspire other ethical, green and innovative entrepreneurs to move towards a more sustainable future seems to be entirely fulfilling.
“My picture’s bigger than You and Bamboo. I’d like to do more consulting, I’d love to inspire people to do what they love and create a way of doing it that works for them. This is how life works for me, pursue something your passionate about, something bigger than the profits of today. I would like to inspire and motivate others to make a conscious impact on their communities and the world. Better choices don’t have to be that hard. In fact when your doing the things you love, it doesn’t really feel like work at all! I love educating and motivating other people.”