In 2006, Robyn Smith started Faithful to Nature, an online health store, she describes as “an online ethical shopping platform”. It was started from a need Robyn saw of helping South Africans shop with an ethical discernment. A place where ingredient transparency and integrity were given. A place that would show that going green didn’t mean giving up choice and luxury but rather selecting more mindfully.
Robyn opened Faithful to Nature with 250 SKUs, at a time where the wellness industry was in its infancy. Today, 12 years later, they stock over 11 000 SKUs, including their newly launched Faithful to Nature branded products. Each of those items is still carefully selected to meet their stringent ingredient policy, making it the go-to online health store for many. In its 12 years, wellness has exploded, and Faithful to Nature has been at the forefront of sourcing and selling not only the best green products, educating consumers on new ideas and trends and enabling the SA consumer to easily find the latest “it” wellness product with a few clicks.
I wanted to give South Africans the opportunity to shop with greater ethical discernment where ingredient transparency and integrity was a given.
Name Robyn Smith
Age 37 years young 🙂
Business Faithful to Nature
Location Kommetjie, Cape Town
How old is the business?
12 years old
What inspired you to Faithful to Nature?
I started Faithful to Nature because I wanted to give South Africans the opportunity to shop with greater ethical discernment where ingredient transparency and integrity was a given. I wanted this entire experience to be on par with global customer service standards to change the perception that “going green” meant taking a step back in terms of luxury or choice.
What has been your favorite part of the business?
Without a doubt the people – our customers, suppliers and staff are such a special bunch of hugely inspiring people.
What has been the most challenging part?
Keeping faith during the hard times when the business was not making a profit.
You started Faithful to Nature 12 years ago – at a time where wellness and conscious consumerism were not what they are and at a time where half of the stuff you currently stock was not known never mind available. What to you, has been the biggest change in the industry since then?
The industry has experienced massive growth and maturity, it’s been awe-inspiring. However, in my 12 years in this industry, I have not seen a sub-category grow as fast as the consciousness around plastic-free or zero-waste living. It has been so rewarding and inspiring to see how quickly everyone has jumped on board this very positive trend.
Faithful to Nature is known for a very strict ingredient policy – how do you select what goes into the shop?
After 12 years of continual ingredient checking and research, we have a significant database by which we run every single ingredient through before we check it. Our policy is that if a product contains ingredients that have contention around their safety, and if there are alternatives to that product that have less contentious ingredients, then we will not stock the product in question.
How do you balance being a mother, wife and business owner?
This has not been easy, but at the same time it has also been a very rewarding path to follow. I prioritise family holidays no matter how busy I am. And I have also learnt to be very focused and present when I wear each hat.
You recently launched a range of Faithful to Nature branded products. What was the inspiration behind the range and what sets your products apart from the other products on Faithful to Nature?
We wanted to procure and list a range of products that exemplified waste-free living; good quality foods at an affordable price and the range ticks all these boxes. We hope it will inspire other suppliers and consumers alike on their sustainable journeys.
What’s your favorite must have Faithful to Nature Items?
Certainly our own range of products because they offer me high quality wholefoods at great prices with zero plastic contained in the packaging. I don’t think it gets better than this.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to start being more eco conscious but was intimidated?
Like anything, take it day by day and step by step. Social media offers an amazing opportunity to surround yourself with and be inspired by others in the ethical community and this is a great and non-invasive way to learn from others.
Where do you see the wellness industry in SA vs international – are we on par or behind and do international trends influence what Faithful to Nature stocks?
Having just returned from Canada I can say with confidence that South Africa is at the forefront of the ethical consumer goods industry. We have always been very pioneering on the wellness scene too and I think we are on par, or just behind first world international innovations.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
The only thing that separates those who make their dreams come true and those that don’t, is that those that do never gave up on their dreams.
What is your beauty obsession at the moment?
What is your food obsession at the moment?
Home brewed Kombucha
What is your go to easy meal?
Never leave home without
After a hard day I…
Take off my shoes, and head to the beach with my family – 2 boys, hubby and 2 dogs
Product that changed my life
Favourite way to move my body
I love walking and surfing
Best budget tip
Aim to live without plastic and watch how much money you will save. This goes for all green lifestyle trends!
The Prophet by Kahil Gibran
Favourite Healthy eating spot in your city
Whole Earth Cafe in Scarborough
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.