Magic Dirt with Frankie Layton – Founder of The Dirt Company

Asking your customers to wash their clothes in dirt seems like a big ask, but for Frankie Layton, founder of The Dirt Company, it’s a gamble that’s paying off.

When Frankie Layton became dismayed at the lack of sustainable laundry liquid options in her supermarket aisle, she decided to create her own. No small feat for someone working in advertising with no laundry product development experience, but fortunately, she didn’t let that stop her.

Juggling a part-time job in advertising to keep the bills paid, Frankie embarked oncreating a product that uses only organic or plant-based cleaning ingredients, is 100% biodegradable and is delivered in sustainable packaging.

The result is Dirt – a laundry liquid that not only ticks all the boxes, but is also affordable, working out at between 33 and 48 cents per load.

“We realised that people are never going to choose what’s more difficult or what’s more expensive. Mostly your internal needs govern your choices and that’s ‘Can I afford it? Is it there when I need it?’” Frankie says.

To solve that problem, Dirt is available on subscription so that it’s always there when you need it. It comes with an aluminium dispenser bottle that is reused, the liquid delivered in pouches that can be posted back to the company for reuse.

Why Dirt? “We wanted to sit firmly in our own philosophy of less harm by focusing on the essential, of calling it as it is, and having some fun while we do it. We don’t see dirt as something that you need to be afraid of – it’s part of what makes the magic in life. Our philosophy is get messy, clean with Dirt.”

Did she ever imagine she’d be creating laundry liquid? “Not in a million years. Do you know why? Because I am such a grub. I’m that person who arrived at work having already spilled coffee down my top,” she says with a laugh. However, she’d always dreamt of inventing something and of creating something that made a positive difference to the environment.

It took nearly two years to get the product on the market. Frankie brought in three co-founders for their expertise and spent the time “creating formulas, exploring packaging options, building websites, washing clothes, doing business plans, designing and washing more clothes”.

She launched it via the website and it took about six months to take off, with sales flooding in so fast around Christmas that she questioned whether the business was ready to handle it.

“We had to have a long hard think about how and what we do, but the plastic thing that we’re crusading against and the sustainability message, making products that do less harm but still work … people just got it straight away.”

She decided to commit fully to The Dirt Company, and gave herself six months to make it work. It hasn’t been easy – things were on the brink of selling too fast for a couple of months, a problem when you have to order supplies up to 16 weeks in advance. “You can have a good idea, a good product and good intentions and you can still get it wrong.”

But then there are the customers. “They just lift your spirits so much. How often do you write an email to a brand saying, ‘Thanks so much I really enjoyed your product’, especially in a cleaning category as basic as ours. That’s our source of energy. We often pinch ourselves and go, ‘Oh my god, we’ve got laundry detergent fans!’”

The business is now going strong, and Frankie is looking at expanding the product range into other cleaning products.

“Our mission is to make products that do less harm. If you’re buying something, you’re having an impact, so we want to make sure that we offer choices that reduce harm and still give customers what they need,” Frankie says.

“You’ve got to buy things. You’ve got to use things. You need stuff to survive. Choose the product that does less harm.”

Check out their website and Instagram!

“We don’t see dirt as something that you need to be afraid of – it’s part of what makes the magic in life.”
“We don’t see dirt as something that you need to be afraid of – it’s part of what makes the magic in life.”

“We had to have a long hard think about how and what we do, but the plastic thing that we’re crusading against and the sustainability message, making products that do less harm but still work … people just got it straight away.”

She decided to commit fully to The Dirt Company, and gave herself six months to make it work. It hasn’t been easy – things were on the brink of selling too fast for a couple of months, a problem when you have to order supplies up to 16 weeks in advance. “You can have a good idea, a good product and good intentions and you can still get it wrong.”

But then there are the customers. “They just lift your spirits so much. How often do you write an email to a brand saying, ‘Thanks so much I really enjoyed your product’, especially in a cleaning category as basic as ours. That’s our source of energy. We often pinch ourselves and go, ‘Oh my god, we’ve got laundry detergent fans!’”

The business is now going strong, and Frankie is looking at expanding the product range into other cleaning products.

“Our mission is to make products that do less harm. If you’re buying something, you’re having an impact, so we want to make sure that we offer choices that reduce harm and still give customers what they need,” Frankie says.

“You’ve got to buy things. You’ve got to use things. You need stuff to survive. Choose the product that does less harm.”

Check out their website and Instagram!