The Danish family start-up bringing eco-friendly baby products to the UAE
Danish parents, Jacob and Mai, arrived in the UAE four years ago.
Having previously worked with a Danish Pharma company, Jacob soon realised that having access to personal care products that were truly without perfume and parabens was somewhat challenging in Dubai. While many claimed to be free-from harmful substances, they failed to meet the safe and eco-friendly standards that Jacob was looking for.
After having their first child, Esther, Jacob and Mai decided to take things into their own hands, and made it their mission to bring clean baby care products to Dubai. Three years later, VELVÆR was born. Here, Jacob tells us more about their journey so far…
Tell us more about how the idea to set up Velvær first came about.
The idea for VELVÆR (which means feeling and being great) all started when Mai fell pregnant with our daughter Esther. With my (Jacobs) background in Danish Pharma developing medicine for skin diseases, we wanted to find and ensure that we were buying baby care products that were free from allergens and hormone disruptive substances. We got frustrated reading so many product labels trying to find safe products within Dubai, and felt misled when we came home with products stating ‘no perfume’ but still had a smell and contained camomile, grapefruit extract, tea tree oil etc. Why state that a product is without perfume when it contains other ingredients with scents that are as harmful as perfume? So we decided to take matters into our own hands and launch a trusted and certified safe baby care brand – VELVÆR. Our mission at VELVÆR is to make it easy for parents to choose products free of harmful chemicals without needing to have a PhD in chemistry. We want to provide parents the trusted guidance that we couldn’t find ourselves in the region with simple and clean products. The ultimate feeling as parents is the feeling of peace of mind, so if we can help achieve that with VELVÆR products, our mission will be accomplished.
From the very beginning we have focused on developing a wet wipe that is soft and is suitable for their intended use (parents know what we are talking about!); guaranteeing that they are without any harmful substances whatsoever for babies; ensuring they have minimal environmental impact, and finally offering affordable wet wipes to ordinary parents. It’s not a “Rolls Royce” for the rich and famous, it’s the “Volvo” for the masses (Volvo is one of the safest cars in the world!)
What sets Velvær apart from other wet-wipe brands on the market?
Parents don’t need to understand how the products have been manufactured, nor do they need to read lists of ingredients or remember long lists of chemicals to avoid. We have gone all-in to guarantee that our wet wipes are safe and eco-friendly by certifying them with the independent organisations Nordic Swan Ecolabel and the Asthma Allergy Nordic that have some of the world’s most strict requirements. As an example, this means that VELVÆR does not only rule out ingredients that are proven to be harmful, but also ingredients that are suspected of being harmful. The double certification guarantees that they are completely free of harmful substances and have a minimal impact on the environment.
To what extent are the wipes “eco-friendly?”
When we started to look into the environmental impact of a product, we realised how extremely complex it is to assess. We asked ourselves; “When can we claim that our wet wipes are eco-friendly?” Is it based on how they are produced? How can they be disposed of? Can the packaging material be recycled? A lot of brands are calling themselves eco-friendly but based on which parameters? We actually don’t know this as parents.
Unlike many others, we have partnered with Nordic Swan Ecolabel that are the official sustainability ecolabel in Denmark and the other Nordic countries. Together, we have taken a holistic approach and looked at the full product journey, meaning all aspects are considered from raw material, production, consumption and disposal and recycling of the product, and have certified VELVÆR wet wipes to be eco-friendly. Why? Because the total footprint is important for the environment and not only the footprint at one of the steps or in just one part of the product journey.
Our ultimate criteria has been to provide a wet wipe with superior performance, that is 100% safe and balanced with an eco-friendly profile delivered at an affordable price. They also need to work in critical situations, especially when you’re on the move and it cannot pose any risk whatsoever to your children. We need to take care of the environment and we need to provide it at a price that parents can afford. Being certified eco-friendly by the renowned and independent organisation, Nordic Swan Ecolabel, is your guarantee that we have minimized the environmental impact of VELVÆR wet wipes by considering all aspects of the product journey. Together with experts, we are looking at how we can make our next generation wet wipes even more eco-friendly.
Are the wipes suitable for all skin types, even those with dermatologic conditions such as eczema?
Yes! Some of our best friends suffer from eczema and it has been crucial for us to be able to look at them in the eyes and give them wet wipes they can trust and safely use! With a background in pharma and skin diseases, we have met numerous people suffering from skin diseases and have experienced the importance to be able to rely on the products they use. VELVÆR wet wipes are certified to be safe to use even if you suffer from skin diseases such as eczema and various skin allergies.
What are the potential long-term effects of exposing babies to products that include hormone disruptive substances, and why is it so important for parents to avoid these products?
Hormone disruptive substances can impact the natural hormone balance in the body and could have devastating effects such as genital malformation, testicular cancer or reduction of our ability to have children because of reduced sperm quality, for example. Fetuses and babies are especially sensitive to these substances because of their size and development stage. For our children and for our future generations, it’s necessary that we completely cut out all hormone disruptive substances where we can. With VELVÆR, we simply take the recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO), European Union (EU) and from research seriously. Fortunately, with the help of independent and officially recognised organisations such as Asthma Allergy Nordic and Nordic Swan Ecolabel, parents can pick products that are certified by them such as our VELVÆR wet wipes.
How much do the wipes retail for, and where can we find them here in Dubai?
We are offering VELVÆR wet wipes from 15 AED per pack. Plus, if you buy a bundle of 12, you will get free and same day delivery in Dubai (next day in other Emirates). They are currently available at www.velvaer.com or visit @velvaer_babycare on social media.
Do you have plans to introduce more products to the brand soon?
There is a massive need for products completely free of harmful substances, so we have major ambitions. We have a full pipeline of certified safe and eco-friendly baby care products lined up. As a start-up, it’s our sale performance of our initial product that determines how soon we launch the next products and which products that will be. Our dream is to provide parents with VELVÆR certified safe and eco-friendly diapers next.