Spotlight: Emmanuel and Miguel, Cofounders of Boomi

By Phoebe Kut, September 19, 2019

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Spotlight is a regular series where we feature a prominent person in the creative scene. This month we speak with Emmanuel Dean and Miguel Boy who are the cofounders of Boomi.

Emmanuel and Miguel are two young entrepreneurs who became friends back in Singapore during their boarding school days. They’ve now set their sights on creating a cleaner future by transforming the plastic consuming habits of individuals in Asia – one bamboo toothbrush at a time. Together they’ve founded Boomi, a Shanghai-based startup that provides starter-kits filled with eco-friendly products, empowering people to find their balance between city living and sustainability.

How did you choose your flagship product?
Emmanuel: The first product we sold were our bamboo toothbrushes. We thought toothbrushes were a good gateway to living sustainably because the first thing you do in the morning (hopefully) is brush your teeth. And right before you go to sleep you also brush your teeth. So, it’s kind of a constant reminder, with a bamboo toothbrush you make at least a small difference. We also think it’s one of the simplest things to change because it doesn’t really affect much. The brushes are still unfortunately made of nylon, so the quality of oral care is still identical to an Oral-B or Colgate toothbrush. It’s made with nylon because there currently is no substitute. We could replace it with pig’s hair but that would degrade hygiene, and we still want to focus on hygiene. We also plan to expand to Southeast Asia and a lot of people there are Muslim, so it would go against their religious belief as well. Dentists still recommend that nylon is the way to go over pig’s hair. Nylon is the only plastic component in our entire product line.  

Image courtesy of Boomi

Where are your materials sourced? 
Emmanuel: All our materials are sourced locally in China; we have multiple suppliers in Zhejiang and some in Shenzhen as well. We only source locally, especially for our shampoo bars because of China’s animal testing laws. Any foreign cosmetic products coming into China need to be animal tested, but if produced locally they don’t need to be animal tested.  

Is the production team paid fair wages?
Emmanuel: Yes, we have run an audit on almost all our suppliers. The thing is, for fair wages there is no specific certificate to verify that, so we do our own audit on the factories. We hire an external team to anonymously audit them, and it gives us a very clear image on wages, water and electricity usage and waste sorting, which is what we want the factories to do as well. We’ve received results for two of the factories which have been very good; we’re still waiting for the rest of them.  

Image courtesy of Boomi

How do you incorporate green practices every day? 
Emmanuel: In our company we have a ‘Boomi tax,’ where every time one of our team members uses single-use plastic they have to pay RMB20 to whoever spots you. This is a challenge we have that we announce at our events and to our friends, which teaches us to be accountable. It’s also a good way to start a conversation with people. Although, at first, they might just be interested in the money, afterwards you can explain the reasoning behind the initiative and why we should be avoiding single-use plastic. We actually have a no waimai policy in the office. Since there’s a lot of restaurants downstairs we encourage people to eat together downstairs or we bring our own food. 

Image courtesy of Boomi

Do you currently work with any charities or foundations? 
Miguel: We were part of a charity brunch organized by a professional women’s association along with a foundation that works with young Chinese women to give them better education. We’re happy to collaborate with charities. Ideally, we would love to find a permanent partner. I’m interested in an organization that focuses on cleaning the ocean or with tree planting, with a focus on Asia. But anything that is related to education has always been close to our mission as well.  

Emmanuel: For me, I want to work with people who work on coral restorations. I’m a huge fan of snorkeling and corals. Apparently 50% of Great Barrier Reef corals were lost in the past couple of years, if I’m not mistaken.  

For more Spotlight posts, click hereFor more about Boomi, check out their website here

[Cover image courtesy of Boomi]

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