Down to Business: Bide 

Jenessa Williams 21 March 2022

Readers Digest chatted to Amelia Gammon, founder of eco-cleaning company bide

RD: How did bide get started, and how would you best summarise what you offer?

Amelia Gammon: I wanted to create a consumer goods subscription service that made sustainable living simple and affordable.

It quickly became clear that the environmental impact of mass-market production methods were not being considered, so I began devising eco cleaning recipes myself, at my kitchen table. It struck me that if I could do this in my home, there must be an army of people who could replicate my recipes in their homes.

I launched bide which not only provides truly eco-friendly products at an accessible price point, but empowers disenfranchised people to become active players in our society, working as part of a home manufacturing network.

Our system supports hyper-local economies and encourages a community focus. 

How does your work compliment your personality? What are the core values that drive you? 

bide is the definition of a business with purpose, built on strong environmental and social values. We believe that everything we do should be supportive of the planet and the people that inhabit it.

These are values I aim to live up to every day. I’ve tried to live the most sustainable life I can, converting our home into an eco-home (running off solar and airsource). The process has been costly and time intensive and I feel very lucky to have been able to do it.

Going through my eco journey made me realise that we can’t expect people to adopt sustainable lifestyles en masse if it is a luxury only the affluent and time rich can affordI created bide as a way to address this inequality and make it easier for people to live more sustainably, regardless of their lifestyle, background or income level.

"Going through my eco journey made me realise that we can’t expect people to adopt sustainable lifestyles en masse if it is a luxury only the affluent and time rich can afford"

Tell us more about how bide operates; who does it provide opportunities to, and why is this focus close to your heart?

I strongly believe that, given the chance, everyone has something to offer and is capable of making a valuable contribution to society, irrespective of their background. Groups that have historically been marginalised for whatever reason, be it gender, past circumstances, age or so on, should be given the opportunity to become a self-employed home manufacturer, gaining the financial independence to get their lives back on track.

My sister has relied on benefits all her adult life. She is a foster carer with disabilities; going out to traditional work is not an option for her. She has not received a further education and she has never had the resources to be part of the creator economy. She has been overlooked within the working world, yet she so desperately wants to contribute to society. 

With bide, I realised I could bring work to people like my sister. Work that could be done in the home, completed in hours that suited and be completely flexible around things such as childcare demands or health challenges.

Because we launched in the height of the pandemic, we quickly realised that our manufacturing method was pandemic proof! Where conventional factories were closing, our home manufacturers could continue making, even during lockdown. Our manufacturing process has also meant we are incredibly well-placed to work with charities such as Working Chance, which offers employability support for women with convictions.

Thanks to social media, cleaning ‘hacks’ and eco-homekeeping influencers have become hugely inspirational to the way that we all manage our homes. How do you think this ‘rebranding’ of homekeeping has inspired your business?

Homekeeping has had a resurgence and through the help of platforms like Instagram, it is being given a glamorous overhaul. People sharing their cleaning hacks gives rise to the popularity and ultimately helps bide. We use the simplest of vegan ingredients to make our products (many of which you can find in your food cupboard).

This resonates with a growing customer base who are looking for non-toxic cleaning solutions but don’t necessarily have the time to make them.

What does a typical workday look like for you? 

I have 4 small children and a dog; I wake up about 40 mins before they do so that I can go through emails, read the news and get my to-do list written. I am then on mama-duty until 8:45 which is when I switch into bide mode. 

As a small business founder/hustler, I wear many hats; CEO, Social Media Manager, Head of Partnerships, Podcast interviewee, Marketing Director, Growth hacker, Product designer, Customer Service Lead….I am spending most of my days pitching to potential investors to get bide to the next stage of growth.

I cook for my family at around 5pm, put the smalls to bed and get back to work for a couple of hours after 7pm.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your job? 

I have built this business to be a reflection of my value system which means that I am fortunate enough to love the majority of what I do.

My least favourite part is fundraising; we're raising to build upon our outstanding metrics and scale, but although many VC’s claim to be invested in purpose-driven entrepreneurs, this is not reflected in their portfolios.

I am female, I am a mother and I am gaythree values that immediately discriminate against my chance of securing investment. In Europe, female-founded startups account for just 1.3% of VC funding raised since 2017. LGBTQ+ founders receive less than 1% of funding.

Whilst there is a surge in investment for future of work innovation for educated, skilled work, there isn't such support for unskilled labour. Representing a purpose-driven business with no compromise on scruples is a big pitch, but one I am pursuing relentlessly.

Transformation is not easy, but the people and our planet need epic change.

What do you like to do to switch off?

I try to grow most of the food we eat. Hiding out in my greenhouse is a great way for me to unplug and switch off—I get so much joy from watching nature thrive. It’s a fantastic way to re-humble myself and reflect on how any stresses or frustrations I may have at work are insignificant in the greater world order.

What has been the most valuable business lesson you’ve learnt so far? And what has been your most tangible achievement? 

A business lesson I’ve learnt is to overcome the British tendency to sell myself short! It took me a while to shout about our innovative business model and the incredible impact we are having.

 Being able to create a product range using UK-sourced, non-toxic, vegan and fully biodegradable materials with 100% compostable packaging is a huge achievement in itself but we’ve also seen so many other brilliant, tangible achievements in such a short space of time, it’s been amazing.

"Being able to create a product range using UK-sourced, non-toxic, vegan and fully biodegradable materials with 100% compostable packaging is a huge achievement in itself"

In the last 12 months, with only 70k in investment, we have been voted the No.1 product range by Ethical Consumer Magazine, reached more than 3,000 customers, onboarded 208 home manufacturers and our trustpilot reviews are outstanding. It's clear from our return customer rates (42%) that our audience loves using our products.

They buy into the social impact of their purchase, the environmental credentials, but most importantly, they buy into the effectiveness of our products.

We operate a truly transparent communication channel with our customers which includes non-edited reviews, sharing our cost breakdown of our products and an inside look into how we manage our organisation. 

In five years’ time, where would you like to see yourself?

My vision for bide is for our ecosystem to be the global solution for marginalised people seeking work. Over 50% of the global workforce is unskilled, but there is so little innovation to reach and deploy them. bide's model is built for densely populated areas where there is a large available audience of consumers and home manufacturers.

We are actively seeking VC investment to fuel our growth and we will continue to expand our wholesale reach to include supplying hotel chains, prisons, hospitals and municipal buildings with our products.

Our system can bring industry back into towns and cities, reigniting work opportunities within the communities where people live.

Within the next five years it is my hope that we can provide that, not just in the UK, but in the US as well (we’ll be replicating our model there next year) and then the world!

I am also looking forward to expanding our product offering. We currently produce an eco cleaning range and our first body care product will be launched in May, the first in an extensive selection of products all handmade by our home manufacturing network.

Our body care range is gender-inclusive and will feature vegan, natural, toxin-free ingredients. We also plan to launch a homewares range within the next 2-3 years. It’s a big ambition of mine to be a real force for change in the industry.

If you weren’t in this line of work, what other career would you love to have?

I actually trained as a dancer and if I were to have a sliding doors moment, I would love to see how that path could have worked out. I get plenty of opportunities to dance with my children; our kitchen gets turned into a disco after most evening meals!

Read more: The young climate activists shaking things up

Read more: Why climate activism needs to decolonise

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter