Hi everyone! I’m Spiffy, your favorite interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making a difference in consumption and production. Today I’m going to learn how to incorporate sustainability into our everyday cleaning! Let’s head over to Chennai, India, to talk to Sruti Harihara Subramanian, founder of Goli Soda, to see how she is doing it!
Spiffy: Hi Sruti, it’s wonderful to meet you! Can you tell me what challenges you are addressing through Goli Soda?
Sruti: Thanks so much for interviewing me, Spiffy! Well, I believe that the challenge of sustainability is not just about being eco-friendly, environmentally conscious, and consuming organic produce. Sustainability is about examining the process chain of each and everything we, as consumers, buy. Goli Soda strongly believes that we can enable sustainable changes to people’s consumption patterns with very minimal alterations to lifestyle and superior product satisfaction. Accessible online and offline, Goli Soda helps you live “Sustainably, Every Day”.
Spiffy: Everyday sustainability would make a huge difference! What motivated you to dig deeper into sustainability and how does Goli Soda do this?
Sruti: The idea for Goli Soda began in 2013, and grew out of a personal need. I live in Chennai, and the city was not equipped with the basics of an eco-friendly way of living at the time. So I fashioned Goli Soda to be a comprehensive, next-door store and online manufacturing hub, to help myself and others embrace sustainable solutions. I wanted to address the challenges of access, and enable a substantial lifestyle transformation, which would benefit everyone and the environment.
Spiffy: I see, so you wanted to make it easier for people to buy and use sustainable products. How do you see Goli Soda contributing to a more equitable world?
Sruti: At Goli Soda, we are committed to equity and access for all in every one of our endeavors. Our key areas of focus include: working with rural producers to aid financial inclusion and equity; working with women entrepreneurs to aid gender equity; promoting health equity, especially for women, by providing viable alternatives to eco-unfriendly solutions; promoting social equity by hiring more women in our workforce; and enabling clean waterways, through our sustainable home and personal cleaning solutions.
Spiffy: Wow! I can feel the waves of impact already! What kind of exciting milestones have you achieved?
Sruti: Recently, I was selected to be part of a group, with eight other women entrepreneurs, for an incubation program through STEP (Shakti—The Empathy Project). I was introduced to my mentor, Ms. Liril Gupta, through this initiative, and it has been a wonderful learning experience. Goli Soda's biggest milestone has been the impact of our probiotic range of products: in one year we have sold over 14,000 items and treated over 98.55 million liters of water with our probiotics products.
The Goli Soda All Natural Probiotics Dishwash Bar and the Goli Soda Coconut Coir Dishwash Scrub. (Image courtesy of Sruti Harihara Subramanian)
Spiffy: That’s incredible, Sruti! With that kind of success, have you ever experienced failure?
Sruti: Well, Spiffy, when I was a child, I was not very skilled at drawing. Drawing was a requirement for an education program I wanted to join, and I had to pass an entrance exam. I took classes to learn drawing, and while my peers did quite well, I put in a lot of effort and failed. My father spoke to me about the need to be persistent and dedicated to the task at hand, without being overly concerned about the end result. I ended up topping the entrance exam and I learned the important lesson of never giving up and always trying my best.
Spiffy: That’s such an important lesson. Do you have any other lessons you’ve learned recently that you could share with us?
Sruti: Recently, at a workshop on adaptive leadership, I learned that — while we all work to create a positive impact through our initiatives or as leaders — there will always be negative effects on some of the stakeholders, both within our organization or outside of it. This negative impact could be monetary or emotional. This thought was life-changing for me. At some points, we are all blinded by our focus and passion to do good.
Spiffy: Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Sruti: Yes, Spiffy, I am constantly learning from my 19-month-old daughter. She reminds me of the value of patience and empathy. I have realized that children learn best when they emulate the words and actions of the adults at home. In that way, she drives me to be a better human. I guess this is the reason why she is already able to segregate waste and knows what waste goes into what bin. She can appreciate trees and nature, and she is also able to point out the bits of garbage that we find amongst those things. This is a great reminder that we can surely make the world a better place by being role models for younger generations, especially if we start early.
Spiffy: That sounds like a very doable plan, Sruti. Thank you for sharing your story with us, it’s been an honor!
Sruti Harihara Subramanian is passionate about sustainability and is the first consumer of all Goli Soda products. As the founder of Goli Soda, she believes in delivering products of the highest standards to consumers and that education is at the heart of enabling change. Sruti is an award-winning filmmaker of international repute. In 2019 she was awarded the MOP Vaishnav Award for the Best Entrepreneur and the FICCI FLO Award for Upcoming Entrepreneur. (Nominated by Shakti—The Empathy Project)