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The making of a small global brand - the sustainable story of bambu

How bamboo inspired the creation of a small global brand.

Bambu. It started with a simple idea and passion

“We launched bambu with a simple idea. To create interest and excitement in renewable materials and to lessen the impact we place on the earth’s limited natural resources," remarks co-founder, Jeff Delkin excitedly when asked what inspired he and his partner, Rachel Speth to start bambu nearly 10 years ago.

Bambu is the pioneer in introducing bamboo into the kitchen and home. “We were inspired by a marvelous material that forms the foundation of our company, and the first step towards creating a remarkable renewable ideas company.”

Today, Bambu is the leading ‘green’ company in the homewares and gift segment, designing and creating home and lifestyle products made from renewable resources. The founders of Bambu believe ‘renewables’ are the most sustainable, least impactful materials that we can create beautiful functional products from.

Products range from bamboo cutting boards, cork cutting boards, serving pieces, and bamboo kitchen tools. Bambu is the only company that uses Certified Organic bamboo. The company initiated the first organic certification audit for bamboo four years ago.

The company also designs a line of baby and toddler products for feeding. The bambu KIDS range is also made from Certified Organic bamboo and fully CPSA tested and approved.

One of the more popular products is the All Occasion Veneerware® range of compostable dinnerware. This natural and elegant range is Biobased certified by USDA, Organic Certified and ‘compostable’ approved by Cedar Grove, Washington, the largest compost facility in the US. Check out our plates and other great green products here.

Other products include a unique collection of products made from cork fabric, a sustainable material that is both luxurious and durable. Or reclaimed coconut shells that are made into beautiful serving pieces. Everything in the range is handmade, or has a high degree of ‘handmadeness’ in the creation and finish of these products.

“Bamboo is the poster child for renewable materials,” says co-founder, Rachel Speth. “We are fascinated with creating new and meaningful ways to bring renewable ideas into our everyday lives.” Learn more about the company's philosophy here.

The Product We Create – It starts with bamboo

We started with bamboo, and continue to expand our palate of materials; renewable, reclaimed and recycled. The sources of our design inspirations are many – Japanese art and culture, Scandinavian design, glassware, everyday use items, and of course, nature. Bambu is the only company using bamboo that is Certified Organic. This ensures the material we use is grown without chemicals, or fertilizers. Our bamboo is grown in the wild, not in plantations, and are audited annually by IMO Switzerland.

Before forming the company in 2003, Rachel Speth and Jeff Delkin spent three years traveling to over six countries, learning about bamboo and other renewable materials. They worked with, and learned from artisans, academics, government organizations, as well as numerous other bamboo enthusiasts. They gained an in-depth knowledge into every aspect of bamboo – from farming and harvesting to preparation and developing numerous applications. “We apply our design ideas to numerous applications – coiled, peeled, carved, laminated and woven bamboo,” adds Rachel. Today, bambu has extended the range to other renewable materials, including coconut, soy and cotton.

Rachel is a former Nike director and Jeff, an international advertising executive. Together they bring a unique mix of experience in product design, research and development, marketing and brand strategy.

Values-Driven Business Approach

It isn’t simply about the end product, but about the entire process. Bambu takes a socially responsible approach to the products, processes, people and to the business practices. They seek to benefit everyone in the value chain. Bambu leads with integrity – honest in intent, and transparent in action.

‘We strive to be a positive example for others.’
states owner, Rachel Speth.

“Living in China allows us the opportunity to work directly and continuously with our production partners. We guide, learn and interact with the craftspeople on a daily basis, and work to build in high quality standards, social responsibility practices, and greater efficiencies into our processes,” adds Rachel Speth.

“We believe that bambu, and business in general have the responsibility and ability to push for positive change. We want to motivate people towards more conscious consumption. And encourage producers to produce more conscientiously by eliminating waste and poor utilization of our natural resources,” adds, Jeff Delkin

bambu is a proud member of Green America, and is only one of a handful of companies which has earned Green America’s Gold Seal of Approval.

Unique Model Puts Design & Development at the Forefront

We refer to Bambu as a Renewable Ideas® company. “It is a concept that extends beyond simply the products we create or the specific materials we use.”

“It includes creating products from waste, or designing products that have multiple uses, or that can be disposed of easily, or that requires little or no packaging. We try and consider all aspects of a product from the very beginning of our design process,” Rachel adds.

The principals reside in China and work directly with their producer groups in China and Vietnam. “Creating a production base ‘at the source’ provides us numerous advantages in terms of production quality and consistency, material research, and product development,” remarks Jeff. The company has its own QC team which oversees every order that is shipped. "We work with a committed group of individuals helping to produce the highest quality product we can.

Bambu also owns and operate their own small factory in China. “It’s really more of a workshop where we can produce a selected portion of our range. It is our ‘bambu Lab’ where we can develop new ideas, and find ways to work and create more efficiently.

The bambu team is constantly developing new products and exploring the use of new materials. The reception to what we are doing has been outstanding. Bambu now sells in over 12 countries. “Ten years into it, and we are really just getting started,” added Jeff.

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