Health and Beauty

Interview with Andrea from Roving Refills Frankston

Andrea Dunkley from Roving Refills Frankston, with some of her eco-friendly detergents

I first found Andrea’s business “Roving Refills Frankston” on Instagram.

I was instantly intrigued!

The idea of refilling old bottles with eco-friendly detergent (rather than constantly buying new bottles at the supermarket), immediately caught my eye.

After living in Japan for nearly 20 years (and you know how Japan loves packaging!), I was eager to become more environmentally friendly and to try to take more steps in my own routine to recycle and reduce household waste.

Andrea’s instagram photos not only made it look easy, but it looked fun! So I decided to try it!

My first order included Lavender Bubble Bath, Lavender Musk Hand Soap, Laundry Liquid, Dishwashing Liquid, and Fabric Softener. Andrea delivered them all to my doorstep in recycled bottles with her handwritten label on them. All of the products have been fantastic, and of course the benefit is that it is one step forward to help save the planet!

I reached out to Andrea to ask if I can interview her about her experience, and to my delight she said yes!

Here is the interview with Andrea!

Interview with Andrea Dunkley from Roving Refills Frankston
Interview with Andrea Dunkley from Roving Refills Frankston

1.Please tell me about your business Roving Refills Frankston and how you started:

Roving Refills Frankston is a small local business based in Frankston South.

I offer a range of eco-friendly cleaning products which are refilled into reused containers from large bulk drums.

The concept is all about reducing the need for more single-use packaging by refilling existing containers with products that are environmentally friendly, low tox and Australian made. Usually I ‘rove’ to various locations around the south eastern suburbs and set up my ‘shop’ on the back of my ute, but currently I am working from home and offering home delivery.

Roving Refills Frankston started up in July 2019 after I saw (on Facebook) the original Roving Refills operating in the western suburbs.

I’d recently quit my job as a teacher and knew I wanted to do something in the waste/sustainability area. I simply loved the Roving Refills concept and after a few weeks I contacted them to discuss the idea of bringing it over to our side of the bay.

While there are now a few Roving Refills in Victoria, we are all independently owned and operated. We’re not a franchise; just like minded people sharing the name to help save the planet one refill at a time.

2.How has been your experience during the COVID-19 pandemic? What kinds of struggles/unexpected outcomes have you experienced?

I’m lucky that I’ve been able to continue operating throughout the pandemic but it’s been a bit of an adjustment.

Normally I operate via a BYO container system where people would come to me to refill, but with the restrictions due to COVID-19 that was not possible. So I’ve switched it up to home deliveries (or local pick up) and in keeping with the concept of reducing waste, products are refilled into a range of clean, reused containers.

Changing the way I was operating was tricky to start with. I had only been going for about 7 months, so still a fairly new business.

It’s been challenging working out ordering and delivery systems and delivery routes. I’ve been continually making changes to my delivery areas to accommodate places I would have normally roved to, but there are people and places who have missed out.

The other challenge has been cleaning/drying/storing containers for refilling. And matching the lids up after they’ve all been washed! This is all on top of balancing home-schooling two young children with my husband who is also operating a business from home.

Thankfully we’ve worked through the challenges and I’m happy that people are still embracing the reusing and refilling concept. I think there are many who want to continue to reduce their impact on the planet while getting through this pandemic.

3.What advice would you have for other business owners in a similar business or interested in starting their own business?

I don’t feel qualified to give business advice! I feel like I often need it for myself!

However, I’d suggest find people who you can talk to. It’s been helpful for me to have the other “rovers” to talk and share ideas with. My husband has been very patient and supportive during my work changes and starting up this business too.

It’s also good to be flexible and adapt where you can but keep to your main goals and ideals. If you’re doing something you’re passionate about, then you’ll enjoy doing it and it will show.

Andrea Dunkley, Roving Refills Frankston, with her ute that she uses for deliveries
Andrea Dunkley, Roving Refills Frankston, with her ute that she uses for deliveries
Andrea Dunkley, Roving Refills Frankston ecofriendly bottles
Andrea Dunkley from Roving Refills Frankston. During the COVID-19 Lockdown in Melbourne, Andrea is delivering to the suburbs surrounding Frankston including Mornington, Mt Martha, Hastings, and Somerville.

Thank you Andrea! You are such an inspiration! You’re amazing that you have not only started your own eco business, but you have also adapted so quickly to this completely unforeseen situation with the pandemic and all while looking after two young children.

Everyone, if you are tired of buying bottles after bottles of items from the supermarket such as detergent, shampoo and conditioner, and body soap, and you’re eager to try an eco-friendly approach, I highly recommend you to place an order with Andrea! Here are the details below:

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