At Koala, it’s always been important for us to be a globally aware and environmentally responsible business. Our founders started Koala with a belief that business can only thrive if society and nature also thrive. And that’s why we set out to be a B-Corp and contribute 1% for the Planet so we can do our bit for our customers, our people, our suppliers and our environment.
We’ve grown a lot since we launched back in 2015, and during this time we’ve had a number of manufacturing partners throughout Australia, Asia and Europe. We know that some customers would be happier if all of our products were made right here on Aussie soil but truth be told, that’s simply not possible…for a number of reasons we’ll get into, but mostly because we don’t believe consumers should have to choose between innovation, sustainability and affordability.
Despite trying for a significant period of time to find suitable Aussie manufacturers, we discovered that, for the most part, our local manufacturing industry doesn’t currently have the same level of investment in technology and innovation as overseas facilities, and would not necessarily be able to scale with our demand at times. It’s sad, but true.
As a proud Australian born and bred company, it was always our hope to keep manufacturing Down Under. Unfortunately, this hope wasn’t a viable reality so we needed to explore overseas partners and this process of discovery taught us a lot. We learnt very quickly who we didn’t want to work with and spent a significant period of time seeking out partners who shared our unwavering commitment to people and planet.
We hold all of our partners to our very high standards through factory and social audits to assess suppliers on a number of environmental and human rights non-negotiables. We know this is one of our fundamental responsibilities, and we take it very seriously, not just for our customers but also for our founders and their belief of what makes business thrive.
Our audits cover everything you’d expect any responsible company to be aware of, including human rights, health/hygiene and safety, hazardous materials use and storage, waste management (e.g. recycling, storage and disposal), waste water and air emissions, energy and water use and reductions.
As we grow and launch new categories and products, the number of partners we have and the locations they are based in, will continually evolve. Our mate Mike in Ballarat, Victoria continues to manufacture some exceptional pieces of furniture for us just as our other valued partners do in other parts of the world.
Honestly? We just want to make furniture, while looking after people and the planet too.
Our award-winning customer service team is based out of Australia, and with every Koala product purchased, we donate money to WWF-Australia to help support our endangered species like koalas, turtles and glossy black cockatoos.
That’s why we are all about creating furniture that is high quality, sustainably-sourced, ethically made and good value. Over the last two years, we have significantly bolstered our offering to customers; we’ve launched 44 new products and expanded beyond the bedroom, with the aim of delivering sustainable furniture options for homes across Australia and Japan. Excitingly, we’ve also recently launched into a new market in the Republic of Korea.
Quality, Innovation and Sustainability
It’s no accident that the Koala mattress is the most loved and highly rated mattress in the country. The decision to move some of our manufacturing offshore was driven by our desire to continue meeting the expectations of our customers while maintaining our strong values of being thoughtfully designed, sustainably made and simply sold. To create the most innovative and high quality mattress for our customers, we had to do our due diligence in researching to find the best solution possible, even if that solution wasn’t in our own backyard.
Manufacturing overseas means that our new mattress range which launched on July 26, is the first and only GECA certified mattress in the country. It meets the environmental, human health and ethical impact criteria set out by Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), the country’s only independent, not-for-profit, multi-sector environmental certification program.
One concern that continues to come up, rightly so we might add, is around the cost of labour being cheaper offshore. It’s worth sharing that our decision to manufacture specific products overseas was not driven by labour or any other costs that are perceived to be lower overseas. We were motivated by the capability of our manufacturing partners and their ability to bring to life our designs whilst upholding the environmental and ethical standards we will not compromise on. We use third party social audits as a primary check to ensure that our factories are compliant across a number of areas including (but not limited to) their environmental, ethical and quality responsibilities.
We know we aren’t perfect, but we are always trying to do better and have a positive impact. That is at the core of our business model and will never change.
Koala is an Aussie brand with global ambitions; excitingly, customers in new parts of the world can also purchase Koala furniture. Our mission of designing better furniture by Australia, for the world is becoming a reality and we know we have a big role to play in doing things right.
Of course, we still call Australia home
As a truly Aussie brand, we aim to support local jobs wherever we can, and we’re proud of the fact that our range will forever be designed in Australia. Aussie habitats mean the world to us, whether it’s your bedroom or an actual koala’s home among the gumtrees.
It’s our mission to continue to build a strong Aussie company that continues to hire more and more Australians. Our business model genuinely values environmental and social capital, and we’re committed to making sure the impact Koala has socially, economically and environmentally is positive, and contributes to humanity and our planet thriving.
We don’t stop dreaming about one day having our own factory right here on Aussie soil. Some would say a dream is just a dream, but they may also say putting Australia’s most loved mattress in a box is impossible, and we all know where that one landed.