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Saturday, Sep 30, 2023

Eco-Cleaner Expands With Cash Infusion

Patricia Spencer’s path to business success started with dirty laundry. More than a decade ago, the Camarillo mother and her two daughters returned from a strawberry patch covered in dirt. Despite treatment with prewash liquid and laundry detergent, the stains refused to fade. Spencer decided to concoct her own cleaning solution in the kitchen. A decade later, the results are sold in supermarkets nationwide. Grab Green, her line of eco-friendly products, now includes laundry detergent, bleach alternatives, dishwashing fluid and dryer sheets. In December, MaddieBrit Products – Grab Green’s parent company, named for Spencer’s daughters – received a $2.5 million equity investment from Stoneway Capital, a Provo, Utah venture firm. For Grab Green, the investment will expand marketing and sales. In September, the brand plans to debut an age-specific line of baby lotions and cleansers. Spencer has discovered that a major challenge in eco-friendly product development is accessing raw materials. After she made her first detergent paste, she tried to turn the home-cooked creation into a bona fide product only to find she could not afford to hire an organic chemist to help her through the next phase. Fortunately, she found one willing to work for free to source and combine materials for products. “Finding the ingredient suppliers and understanding how they’re made and sourced was very difficult,” Spencer said. “The same ones might be manufactured completely differently depending on the company.” MaddieBrit launched in 2009 with Michael Edell, an early investor, as chief executive. Spencer serves as president. A survey published in April by GfK Custom Research indicates 56 percent of consumers were willing to pay more for eco-friendly items. That works for Grab Green, although the price differential for its products is slight. A bag of 24 powder laundry detergent pods costs $8, while a 35-count bag of liquid detergent pods from Procter & Gamble Co. brand Tide sells for $9.99 on Amazon.com. That calculates to 33 cents versus 29 cents per pod, respectively. – Helen Floersh

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