counting koalas

Koala

Humble beginnings with purpose

In light of our recent brand partnership with Purpose, a conference for purpose-driven business, we asked our own champion of purpose and sustainability – Thrivability Manager Simone Awramenko – for an in-depth overview of Koala’s mission to drive purpose into every aspect of our business. Read on to hear her thoughts and find out more about our ambitions as a young company to contribute to positive change.

Humble beginnings with purpose

Koala was started with a simple concept: disrupt an industry while giving back. As we obsessed over the idea of making individual environments more comfortable and happier, we couldn’t help but think of the world we all call home. It’s no secret Koala’s founders are from Byron Bay. While this iconic location is bordered by both forests and the ocean, it has also been plagued by deforestation, which has had a significant impact on one of Australia’s most iconic animals. By naming the business after the Koala, we put a stake in the ground to showcase our dedication to protecting habitat and helping this struggling animal come back from the brink.

Since day one, we’ve adopted a koala for each mattress sold. And now we’ll be expanding our program from the bush to the reef to adopt a turtle for each sofa. We love being able to empower customers with their purchases and genuinely have an impact. So far we’ve adopted over 50,000 koalas through a partnership with the WWF and previously the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

From the beginning, Koala has been conscious of the decisions we’ve made in our search to make the perfect mattress for Australians and wanted to ensure the mattress material had a reduced environmental footprint. The foam in our mattresses is perfect for an Australian sleeper but not for the environment (not many foams are). Yet it is made under the strictest environmental and health standards and we have a certificate to prove it. So we’re pretty happy. It’s also 100% recyclable.

For our first year we had one product and one Australian mattress supplier. In the last year our business has grown to include sheets, furniture, pillows and launching in Japan. We searched for high quality suppliers in Australia that could help us achieve our goal of providing quality and sustainable products to customers – whilst ensuring this was still desirable and affordable – but hit walls at every step.

Keeping purpose in sight

Our supply chain became more complex as we started to search globally for the best suppliers and materials that share similar values. Our way of thinking about sustainability and purpose has become more complex too: we innovated a couple of products that will last and meet our customers’ needs better than anything else on the market. Our Koalafied Design Scorecard and Materials Sourcing Policy challenge us to design products and use materials that are kind to the planet and people. Our partnership with Sedex, a globally recognised ethical supply chain platform, helps us assure our suppliers are treating workers and the environment well. Our partnerships with nonprofit organisations means that we donate or recycle all returned mattresses and even customers’ old mattresses.

We obsess over questions of sustainability so that a customer doesn’t have to – and we don’t have to ask them to pay more for it.

That’s as it should be. As a purpose-driven business we realise we need to do things differently. We are constantly challenging ourselves to make small improvements to help leave the planet in a better state than we found it. After all, it’s the only one we have.

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