How we started a sustainable home decor and lifestyle wares company selling products made to be lived in and loved for years to come

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TSL founder Nancy Shah
Nancy Shah (co-founder)
Founded: July 2020
No of employees: 2
Location: Australia

The Sustainable Life Co is an online lifestyle and homewares company based in Melbourne. The brand offers a selection of sustainable kitchenware, homewares, wellness goods, and baby accessories that are better for the environment than flimsy plastic-based solutions more commonly seen on the market. After launching with their flagship reusable silicone zip lock bag, they’ve expanded the range to include accessories for the whole home. 

The brand is a real labor of love and a passion project for the two founders, who believe sustainable living should be for everyone. After throwing themselves headfirst into all aspects of the brand, they’ve learned how to run a successful business while realizing the value of experts. Read on to find out more about their story and what’s next for them. 

Who are you and what brand did you start?

We founded The Sustainable Life co - an Australian Melbourne-based lifestyle and homewares online store that offers a curated selection of sustainable kitchenware, homewares, wellness goods, and baby accessories across Australia and internationally. We launched in July 2020 with a goal to make modern, stylish, and sustainable wares accessible to all.

We found that sustainable and eco-friendly products were often priced at a premium without necessarily being better for the environment. We are determined to offer genuinely sustainable lifestyle accessories at honest prices to our discerning customers.

We launched with one product – a reusable silicone zip lock bag which we sold out of entirely in less than a week. From there, we expanded to several other homewares and lifestyle categories, with our latest expansion being in baby accessories.

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BRAND IDEA - how did you come up with the idea for The Sustainable Life Co?

The inspiration behind TSL Co was formed when we struggled to find accessible eco-friendly storage solutions for our own kitchen. We could only find either flimsy, plastic-based solutions that were inexpensive but damaging for the environment or expensive reusable solutions that came at a prohibitive cost for daily, regular use.

Identifying this gap in the market, we launched our range of sustainable kitchenwares – later expanding to other categories – with a commitment to sourcing and curating aesthetic, stylish, and affordable goods for our customers.

We decided on our name, The Sustainable Life Co, to reference that we have one lifetime to make our impact on the planet, and we need to find ways to do that sustainably. We also wanted to keep the name broad (rather than just the sustainable kitchen, for example) to allow us to expand to other categories of wares that one needs in life (e.g., wellness goods, homewares, etc.).

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BRAND LAUNCH - take us through how you launched The Sustainable Life Co.

The launch was very much a labor of love. As a passion project for the two founders, we threw ourselves headfirst into all aspects of the brand, from creative design, copywriting, photography, liaising with suppliers, and customer service. It was a great way to learn about how to start and run a business, but over time, we’ve come to realize the value of experts and the ideas and experience they can bring to make our business more efficient.

Our promotion strategy included a mixture of Google advertising, social media advertising, and, of course, word of mouth. We knew our customers would be our biggest champions, so we invested time and focus into making sure each interaction our customers had with us was positive, uplifting, and memorable. The positive customer reviews we receive are still one of our favorite aspects of running this brand.


ONLINE STORE SETUP - what are your top 2 tips for successful Ecommerce store setup.

  1. First impressions count. Use clear, compelling language and easy-to-navigate headers.
  2. Don’t skimp on photography. Compelling and crisp photography is crucial and often the first thing a customer will notice. Invest in the right camera, or outsource to an expert in the first instance. Good quality photos will pay you back in spades.

CUSTOMER RETENTION - what has worked best to attract and retain customers?

Our customers are our most important assets. We are determined to build our network of return customers, as we know they trust us and value what we add to their lifestyle. That is why we prioritize customer service. Be polite, respectful, and go over and above in every instance. There are common traits that we all dislike, such as expensive shipping, complex returns, and a lack of communication. Focus on delivering a top customer service experience every time, and you’ll be rewarded for it.


SOCIAL - what are your top 2 tips for successful use of social media to engage with customers.

  1. Be consistent in your social media use, but don’t spend all your time on it if you do not see returns.
  2. Building a smaller network of engaged followers is far more valuable than a larger network of disinterested followers.

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ENTREPRENEUR INSIGHTS - what has been your biggest learning experience since starting The Sustainable Life Co?

Our biggest insights have been to identify our strengths and weaknesses and leverage the expertise of other professionals where necessary. At the start, it can be tempting to do it all yourself to save costs, but sourcing a dedicated expert to run certain aspects of your brand (e.g., digital marketing, operations, etc.) can be a much more valuable use of your time and money in the longer term.

ONLINE BUSINESS TOOLS - what are the business software tools you couldn't live without?

We use Shopify (and various e-commerce apps) to run our site, Google Analytics to see data, and a mixture of other apps to plan and manage our social media.

See what tools other founders use here.


SELF DEVELOPMENT - what are the educational resources you’d recommend?

I can't really recommend any specific one, but I have spent hours researching and YouTubing online! Education has been one of the most important factors, and I really didn't know anything about running a business when I started. That almost put me off starting to be honest, but I just researched one thing at a time and learned things from so many various YouTube channels along the way (from marketing, product photography, finance 101, using Shopify, to even running your own Google Ads). There is soo much out there, and a lot of it is free, so you just have to give it time and be open to learning!


INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE ‘shout-out’ - who have been the most influential people for you during your brand journey?

I have to credit my parents here. They have been small business owners their whole lives (brick and mortar stores) which, while not similar to my own business, has taught me so much over the years. This includes the value of excellent customer service, building long-term supplier relationships, and a general mindset around persistence and hard work, lessons that I will never be able to thank them enough for.


FINAL WORDS OF INSPO - for other aspiring entrepreneurs.

If you have an idea, put it into action before someone else does.


Latest offers & promotions - where can we go to learn more about your latest offers and promotions?

The Sustainable Life Co Website

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