Nicole Gibson's husband was frustrated that he could not wash his hands
in the laundry due to the sink since it always occupied with clothes soaking.
At the time she lived on acreage in Queensland with water restrictions, reduced
dam levels and with a grey water recycling system.
Nicole was told by her husband to stop wasting water in the laundry sink
and make it easier to use for him to wash his hands while she was soaking
clothes. Nicole accepted the challenge and designed a water saving laundry
soaking system, which she launched through setting up her company Soka
Determined to create an innovative concept that allowed multiple items to be separately soaked in different solutions, Nicole also wanted to design a product that could be the solution to many other household problems, reducing the need for impulse purchases contributing to household clutter.
“When you live in a drought-stricken country, every drop counts.”
Her concept was simple – boost the usability and functionality of the
laundry sink whilst saving water, detergent, space, time, money and sanity,
whilst allowing access to the drain and the tap for rinsing. She determined
that her innovation should solve the most common laundry complaints of mums,
- Having a wasted laundry sink space.
- Dripping water to the machine after soaking.
- Using too much water in the sink for one item.
- Using too much laundry solution.
- Not being able to recycle that water easily.
- Not being able to rinse things when an item is soaking in the sink.
- Having a backlog of various stained items waiting for soaking.
- Reducing skin contact with dirty water.
- Eliminating the risk of children drowning.
The outcome of Nicole's efforts is the Soka Tub, that is made up of one
large main tub and three removable, smaller compartments.
“This allows you to separately soak three different items in three
different laundry solutions, making multitasking easier in the laundry,” Nicole
The Soka Tub is ergonomically designed to lift lighter loads and when
individual compartments are lifted out, the draining lids reduce skin contact
with waste water. The draining lids also double up as an effective mixing tool
throughout the soaking process. The main tub may also be used for larger items
likewise the lid is also the perfect size for spot cleaning.
Every drop helps
The Soka Tub is ergonomically made to save water by having smaller
compartments for soaking and handwashing.
“By using less water means you'll need less laundry solution,” Nicole says.
“If you apply the internal litre measurement indicators it will also encourage a
more accurate water to detergent ratio conducive for cleaning and stain
removal. Team this up with earth friendly and biodegradable laundry solutions
after that it allows that wastewater to be recycled safely in the garden.”
By making this sustainable switch, the Soka Tub can help to save between four
and nine litres water in the laundering of a basic man's shirt.
“This might not sound like a lot, but when you reside in a drought-stricken
country, every drop counts,” Nicole opines. “If the typical Australian family
soaked one item once per week, and there are 6.7 million groups of two or more
people, that's between 23 – 60 million litres of potential water saving per
week. Incredible to think how such a small contribution may have a significant
impact on our environment and subsequently our dam levels.”
Adaptability brings greater reward
The Soka Tub can also be BPA free, increasing the versatility of its
applications. With a focus on a circular economy, the Soka Tub finds can solve
other problems around the house.
“One product with infinite uses is essential when space is a premium,”
Nicole says. “When space for storage in most homes, apartments, caravans and boats
is limited, it is great to have a stylish, practical and versatile homeware
that meets the needs of all ages and generations.”
With a detailed ethical business plan incorporating sustainability
development goals, it's pivotal for Nicole that that the Soka Tub's packaging
is made out of recycled cardboard boxes including biodegradable and
newly-implemented paper packing tape.
While so many businesses struggle with the impact of COVID, the
increased concentrate on the health and hygiene of the family home has seen Nicole
record significant growth, with record sales and engagement because the pandemic
“The ability to separately wash personal protective gear without
the fear of cross contamination is extremely important during pandemic
times,” Nicole says.
As the product is made in Brisbane Nicole hasn't experienced the
supply-chain problems that so many manufacturers have had to battle.
“This alone has been a blessing to not only be able to meet the needs of
my customers and suppliers, but more to the point continue to support local
businesses within my community along the way through difficult economic times,”
Nicole says. “I always express it takes the support of the village to stay in
business, and as a country we have certainly witnessed Australians supporting
local and purchasing Australian made.”
Paying it forward
Nicole says that her business is all about encouraging everyone to save
water and educating them concerning how to create an ecofriendly laundry space. She
can also be determined to support those living in water restricted areas with
strategies to save water around the house. In order to fulfill this mission,
Soka Australia launched the City to Bush campaign late in 2021.
“The campaign supports farming families affected by drought conditions who already realize how to make every drop go further,” Nicole says. “Australians will pay it forward by gifting a Soka Tub, distributed via community support network groups around the country, to help drought-affected families save water within the laundry and more, importantly, to exhibit that we care.”
This story first appeared in issue 30 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine