Jacqueline Bruce is a Dumbarton-based entrepreneur creating a luxury hemp shower curtain to reduce plastic waste. She is one of three innovative climate start-ups representing Scotland at the ClimateLaunchpad Global Grand Finals, hosted by ECCI in Edinburgh this week.
We caught up with her in advance of the big event.
What is your company and product all about, in a nutshell?
Undisturbed is a luxury Scottish bathroom accessories brand. We’re developing our first product, which is a circular-designed shower blind made from hemp and recycled plastic. We’re committed to using natural, sustainable and recyclable materials on all our products. And no more mouldy plastic shower curtains and glass shower screens which are harmful for us and our planet.
Our ultimate long term vision is to be Cradle to Cradle Certified, the pinnacle for circular economy goods and services which shows our customers our commitment to protecting our planet and those who live here.
Was there a lightbulb moment at the start?
My lightbulb moment was when I decided to try to make a business out of my hobby.
I used to make these products by hand using plastic materials, because I thought it was better and more durable.
But it wasn’t long before I realised I’d never been comfortable using plastic. I started looking into the circular economy, Cradle to Cradle and hemp fabrics. That’s what started the drive to make a product I really believed in, that wouldn’t harm the planet.
What market are you targeting?
We’re initially targeting switched-on consumers who are looking for natural, sustainable products.
What is your own background and the background of any co-founders?
My background is in marketing. I was living and working down south before I decided to move back home to Dumbarton and strike out on my own.
Tell us about how the product works.
The shower blind winds down from the top, like a window blind. It’s fitted to the ceiling and can be pulled up out of the way once it’s completely dry, meaning less cleaning and maintenance. Because it stays flat it dries completely – so no mould! – and doesn’t get tangled around your legs.
What plans do you have for expansion?
We’re excited about the shower blind but I’m also working on another bathroom product we could potentially move forward with a lot quicker. It’s pretty top secret so I’m afraid I can’t say too much at this stage!
What’s your ultimate goal?
Our ultimate goal is to become the number one global luxury Scottish bathroom accessories brand.
Along the way we’d like to achieve Cradle to Cradle certification for our products, grow and weave our own hemp in Scotland and have a healthy and happy workforce giving back to the communities we’re based in.
Have you hit any milestones recently?
Getting to the Global Grand Final of ClimateLaunchpad is a hugely exciting milestone! Taking part in ECCI’s Climate-KIC Greenhouse programme was really important for the evolution of the business – and it was great boost to win best pitch at the end.
We’ve also just received notification from Strathclyde University that we’ll have their support through a team of design, manufacturing and engineering students working on our product’s life cycle analysis.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
The main challenge has been that I am not a product designer, so I’ve had to find the right people to work with to bring the product I want to make to life.
And because I want the business to be a circular economy business – with no waste – it’s easy to get caught up in being 100% perfect. So now I’m trying to do the right thing while still moving the business forwards – it’s a better balance.
What is your greatest achievement?
Being one of the winning companies in Scottish ClimateLaunchpad. It’s recognition for what I’m trying to do, and a huge boost to be judged to be one of the top three representing Scotland. Playing even a small part in this huge global competition is brilliant.
What are your views on Scotland and Edinburgh’s sustainability scene?
I think Scotland’s got a fantastic contribution to make to sustainability and the circular economy. It’s such a strong innovation ecosystem. The opportunity to work with other start-ups to collaborate and work together is really valuable.
What role has the support offered to you by ECCI and ClimateLaunchpad played in your success?
It’s helped me to clarify what exactly I’m doing and what I’m trying to achieve. The pitch style of the ClimateLaunchpad competition can be difficult to get your head around at first, but it makes you look very closely at what you’re trying to do and it’s a great starting point for moving forwards.
The bootcamp training was brilliant too – a really intensive two days full of information and advice. The trainers were very knowledgeable and helpful. It was also great to hear about all the other start-ups across Scotland - quite humbling actually. But everything helps and the good thing about what I’m doing is that it will be quite consumer-driven and visible.
What does it mean to you to be taking part in ClimateLaunchpad as one of the Scottish finalists?
For me, ClimateLaunchpad is the opportunity to be a part of something that’s much bigger and global. It’s going to be a fantastic experience and something that I’ll remember for a long time.
What are you looking forward to most about the competition?
Meeting other start-ups and hearing about all the different things that are going on to tackle climate change and help the planet.
And what are you looking forward to least about it?
There’s nothing I’m not looking forward to – I’m even looking forward to pitching!
How do you relax?
I enjoy weight training at the gym. I try to meditate. I enjoy a glass of wine!
Find out more about the ClimateLaunchpad Global Grand Final, hosted by ECCI at the University of Edinburgh's McEwan Hall on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 November 2018.