Anna Bordignon has always had a passion for sustainability. It wasn’t until she started a family she decided to enter the entrepreneurial world with a purpose.
“I saw the damage plastic was doing to our planet, and as a mother of three young children I wanted to make a difference.”
It sparked the former commercial lawyer to establish the eco-social enterprise company Munch Cupboard in 2014. It helps educate families on the benefits of more eco-friendly sustainable lifestyles.
Back then Anna sold a small range of reusable and recyclable products for babies and families from her Island Bay home and garage. She was also raising her boys, Luca, now 16, Oskar, 14, and Eddie, 10.
Nine years on Anna runs two sustainable home goods retail companies from the store in Berhampore — Munch Cupboard and sister brand Nil Products.
Munch Cupboard has become a leading Kiwi brand. It provides reusable and sustainable eco-solution plastics for the kitchen, laundry, and home. Nil Products sells nil-harm beauty tools.
The Munch range features reusable beeswax snack bags and silicone baby feeders. As well as bamboo dish brushes, dish soaps, and eco dishcloths featuring New Zealand artists’ work.
Anna now has a team of five full-time employees and 15 contractors. Her warehouse stores container loads of products, and the range has grown from 20 to more than 170.
More than 600 retail outlets stock the products in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Canada, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Anna is also in talks with distributors in Dubai.
Anna is aware her career trajectory to date has helped her make difficult business decisions.
She started with a double degree in law and art, followed by a 10-year career as a commercial lawyer. Later completing a Masters of Business Administration.
“People think lawyers are risk-averse but it’s not the case. I’ve been able to assess and analyse key issues very quickly and have the confidence to take risks.”
Before taking on a product, Anna considers how it is made, where it is from, how it will be disposed of and whether the packaging is suitable.
She sources all ingredients and products from ethical communities. All suppliers abide by a questionnaire about human rights and sustainable practices.
Additionally, Munch has the Global Organic Textile Standard Fabric Certification and works with an Indian fair trade organic fabric company. The company is also working towards the international sustainability certification B Corp.
Along the way, Anna has had support from the New Zealand arm of the global peer-to-peer network The Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO).
Anna is as big on social impact as she is about sustainability.
She supports women in jobs by paying a living wage to contractors who work from home in the education space. She also helps develop school programmes and offers seminars and tips to help reduce plastics.
“I’m all about responsible ethics. Munch feeds minds and feeds the community. It’s something I truly believe in, and it all reflects my advocacy for eco-conscious products for all ages and homes.”
Yet there’s still so much more to do in the sustainability space, says Anna.
Right now she’s working with WellingtonNZ’s business and innovation team on a side project to recycle silicon.
With funding from Callaghan Innovation, Anna has engaged The University of Auckland to conduct research on the topic.