Four years ago Tim Kundinger’s infant daughter had a bad skin condition. Kundinger said the medicine the doctors gave him to use on his daughter didn’t help the skin condition.
“So I made the lotion and it got rid of her skin problem,” Kundinger said.
The lotion Kundinger created was made from ingredients that were all natural. To help him create the lotion Kundinger said he immersed himself into the industry, made connections with people who made similar products, and read a lot of books. He said there was also a lot of trial and error involved.
He also said his herbology background helped him when determining what went into the lotion.
Now, four years later, Kundinger and his cousin, Bob Weiss, run Green Envee Organics, a successful business that sells natural and organic soaps, lotions, body scrubs, and lip balms, just to name a few of the items.
“One thing led to another,” Kundinger said. “Here we are, four years later, and we have a shop here (New London). We have another shop in Chicago, and another one being built in Chicago. We have about 74 locations where our products are sold.”
His cousin, who owns the business with Kundinger, lives in Chicago and does the sales and marketing for the company.
The business didn’t immediately grow to what it is now it was more of a gradual growth.
“I went to a craft show at a high school and was set up in a hallway way off the beaten path,” Kundinger said. “I was just trying to sell some lotion and bars of soap to see how people would respond to it. What happened is people tried it and they’d come back and say, ‘Wow, this is great.’ I remember selling my first bar of soap and I was shaking, and it’s only a $4 item. It was that thrill of selling something.”
This led to setting up at more local craft shows.
“It wasn’t like wildfire but it was working. I kept stepping up to bigger and bigger shows,” Kundinger said.
Kundinger said he didn’t have to go through a lot of red tape to begin selling his products because it is considered a cosmetic product, and those are not regulated by the FDA.
“We have guidelines that we have to follow, but there really is no regulation,” Kundinger said. “That was disturbing to me then and it is now. Anybody can label their product natural or organic. There is no law that says you can’t.”
To help reassure customers, Kundinger said Green Envee is part of the Environmental Working Group.
He said he has signed a compact which states he must disclose every ingredient in his products.
Each ingredient is then assigned a danger level, 1-10, with 10 being the most dangerous.
“All our products are a one or below on that scale,” Kundinger said. “Anything up to a two is safe, water being a zero.”
Green Envee moved to its current location on North Water Street in New London about two years ago. But because Kundinger worked a fulltime job until the end of 2012, he wasn’t able to have business hours for the public.
He is now running Green Envee fulltime, and has business hours for the public to buy products, or to ask him any questions they have.
“The really great thing having the store is that people are able to come in here and then they can talk to me,” Kundinger said. “Natural products are best sold when you are able to talk to the creator or somebody who knows about what it can do for them.”
Kundinger said the success of the business and his health were factors that prompted him to turn all of his attention to the business.
“The job I was in prior to this required a lot of wear and tear on the body,” he said. “I didn’t want to be a 45 year old man who had a 60 year old body. This is healthier.”
Kundinger said having business hours has helped him meet customers, but most of Green Envee’s business is done through the mail. He said he ships product throughout the United States, and shipped the company’s first International order in November to Australia.
Kundinger and Weiss also travel to shows around the country selling Green Envee products.
“Since I have gone fulltime, orders have increased, as they should,” Kundinger said. “In two months we’ve done as much as the previous eight months.”
The increase in business falls within the goals Kundinger has for Green Envee.
“I want to get at least one percent of the market,” he said. “I want the name to be known. I want it to be known for the right reasons.”