So Fresh and So Clean

Nov 22, 2011 No Comments

Eat fresh. Eat clean. From biodegradable product wipes to reusable plastic bags and food specific washes, Eat Cleaner offers the full package for those seeking natural lifestyles. Driven by her passion for health and nutrition and fueled by a knowledge of natural products and the understanding of the food industry, Mareya Ibrahim kickstarted Eat Cleaner in 2009. Ibrehim founded the company but credits her father, Dr. Ibrahim’s, lifelong research in the environmental sciences as a driving force behind the business. For Mareya, business, family and health are tightly bound. And with Eat Cleaner, Mareya’s goal is to bring freshness to the tables of families everywhere.

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1. When did you start Eat Cleaner?

I founded the company in 2009 but my father had the initial formula and concept for this product line over 30 years ago.

 

2. Please describe Eat Cleaner as you would to a complete stranger.

It’s the savvy way to put food safety and savings into your hands and enjoy food the way nature intended. Using the power of plant science, we invented a line of green, clean solutions that are lab proven to remove pesticide residue and wax while naturally killing bacteria that can cause foodborne illness from fresh produce, seafood and poultry. Safe for your food, safe for your family, safe for the planet.

 

3. How did you come up with this idea?

My father is a Ph.D in Environmental Health Sciences and also has a degree in Agriculture. While at his lab, they were looking for natural ways to remove pesticide residue from fruit and vegetables. He created the initial phase of our Eat Cleaner formula 30 years ago but only used it in his lab. We wanted to evolve the product to address bacteria and other contaminants and with my natural products background – and the fact that I’m a mom that’s always on the go – we wanted to make sure our products would be safe enough for a child to drink if they got into the bottle.

 

 

4. What were the first 5 major steps to starting this company?

Honing the formula to be tasteless, odorless and colorless on food, while being effective; Coming up with the brand name; honing the brand packaging look and feel; creating the business plan; getting initial friends + family funding; finding a place to develop our products.

 

5. How did you go about finding a manufacturing company or factory?

I wanted to manufacture locally so we could oversee production, integrity and manage our carbon footprint. I just started cold-calling pharma-grade manufacturers and visited their facilities until we found the right ones.

 

6. How long did this process take? Can you paint us a picture of what it took to create the right formula’s/bottles and company to create your products.

It took about 8 months to find the right partner and about 2 years to complete testing, packaging and logo design and to get our first samples. I did all this while I was still working full time, so lots of late nights and weekends in the second shift!eat-cleaner

7. Did you need to patent this idea?

Yes, the intellectual property of our formula is important.

 

8. How much money did it take for you to start up EatCleaner?

Let’s just say we were very resourceful and did a lot without a lot of money.

 

9. When did you think it was the right time to hire a PR company and why?

I did most of the PR work myself in the beginning, as I have an agency background. We’ve had PR agencies do some project-based outreach. PR can do a lot to help a company and a new brand, but it has to be the right fit and you need to still guide them and oversee activity to use your budget wisely.

 

10. Please tell us about your professional background? What were you doing before you started Eat Cleaner?

I have worked on the retail, manufacturer, PR agency and shopper/brand marketing sides of the business, all touching the food industry, so I have a pretty well-rounded perspective to our brand. I started my career in natural products 18 years ago working in the marketing department of Alfalfa’s Markets, a gourmet, natural products retailer out of Boulder, CO. We were defining terms like ‘organic’ and ‘hormone-free’ back then, which are now ubiquitous in food lingo.

 

11. Describe a typical day in your shoes.

Wow, that’s a loaded question. There is no such word as ‘typical’ in my day. I have my hand in everything from manufacturing to marketing, legal to legislation, PR to social media and events. I also have two children, work out every day and volunteer at my children’s school and contribute monthly to San Diego Channel Six News and Edible Orange County Magazine with my Fit Foody segment and column. I do wake up early – around 5:45 – and get myself organized while the kids are still asleep. I guess you could say I try and pack as much into a day as possible.

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12. What type of responses have you received to having such a unique product?

We get amazing comments from people thanking us for creating Eat Cleaner and recently, I’ve had several people reach out saying they had a ‘great idea for a new product’ and came to find that we already created it!

 

13. Is Eat Cleaner FDA approved?

The product uses FDA-approved GRAS (generally regarded as safe) ingredients, but is not required to be FDA registered.

 

14. How did Disney Parenting get involved in your product?

We submitted our products to them and we won for the Excellence in New Products Award, 2010.

 

15. How exactly does Eat Cleaner work and how exactly does it help to preserve food?

It’s a blend of natural plant based acids, cleansers and antioxidants that bind to contaminants that water can’t, while simultaneously extending shelf life. It’s based on an ancient approach the pharaohs took with purifying and preserving their food, tying into my Egyptian heritage.

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16. How did you get onto Oprah and what did that experience feel like?

We were approached by the assistant food editor at Oprah Magazine, and we presented our products to her at their office in NYC. She really liked them but never ended up writing about us, although I learned from a good friend who works with a very famous chef that our Wipes are used in their lunch room! Months later, I got an email from their Oprah.com food editor asking for my input on the cleanliness of pre-washed lettuce and washing mushrooms. I was very flattered, to say the least.

 

17. What other awards has your company won and which ones are you most proud of and why?

In addition to the Disney iParenting Award, I was an Inc. Magazine/Alibaba Newpreneur of the Year Finalist, 1 of 13 selected out of 1,000 entries. We just recently won the Gold Prize at the World’s Best Technologies Innovation Summit, beating out about 270 other technologies from around the world. I was also just nominated for the Babble.com Moms that are changing the world. Every time we receive an honor or a nod from the industry, I’m just over the moon. It helps to validate all the hard work.

 

18. What’s currently in the works for Eat Cleaner?

We are developing some very exciting new products that address food and personal hygiene safety that will really be revolutionary and plan to come out with 2-3 new products next year. You’ll have to wait and watch for those!

 

19. What is your best advice for women entrepreneurs?

Be passionate and do what you love, but before you plunge your time and resources, really take the time to define your product/concept/service and understand the opportunity, your competitive landscape and how much effort relative to money you will make. Also, it’s important to always keep your priorities straight and not feel you have to put work before family. My children are number one and two in my world and my business revolves around them, not the other way around. Also, surround yourself with people who care about your success and won’t bring you down or make you feel guilty. You will need all the support you can get!

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20. What do you love the most about owning this company?

I always wanted to do something to make a difference, and positively impact people’s lives and I feel especially blessed to hear from parents who say feel ‘piece of mind’ using our products, and that their children are eating more fresh fruit and vegetables since they started using Eat Cleaner. To think that we could actually save lives and give people better quality of life with safer, cleaner food is just a phenomenal feeling.

I am also so proud that I have had this opportunity to bring a vision and collaboration to life with my father. He is my role model in so many ways and it thrills me that I could honor his work and brilliance. It’s a legacy we’re building together for my children and they are as much a part of the fabric of this company as anything.

 

Written and edited by: Mary Ronau

 

EAT CLEANER

www.EatCleaner.com

Cities, Inventions, Los Angeles, Novelty, She Walks The Talk, Uncategorized
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