Updated: May 10, 2021
Welcome to our second write up in the Ethical Kollektiv’s Ethical Business Series, where we share the stories of some incredibly driven humans who have committed to running their own for-purpose businesses that are having a positive impact within our community.
We are stoked about this episode, we get to tell the story of one of our favourite people Eva Kiriakoff, an ethical business advocate and Co-owner/Director at Nimbus Co Melbourne.
We first crossed paths with Eva in a pre-covid world as she was embarking on a mission to set up an Eco-Tourism venture in Lombok, a mission that was cut short due to the global Covid-19 Pandemic travel ban and health risks.
Now that Australia is slowly getting back on its feet, we travelled to Melbourne to visit Eva at her Nimbus Co Melbourne studio, a venture that she Directs and co-owns together with the visionaries behind the brand Su Tuttle and Neil O'Sullivan.
Eva, we have plenty to talk about......but first of all tell us about Nimbus Co and more importantly about Infrared Saunas!
EVA: The cornerstone of Nimbus Co is to offer our community state-of-the-art full spectrum infrared saunas across our three studios (Bondi, Byron Bay and Melbourne).
Infrared saunas are different to traditional saunas as they are a much lower heated environment. They utilise infrared technology to produce a deeply therapeutic sweat that offers support for anything from chronic conditions to mild health concerns, detoxification, immunity, skin health, muscle recovery, sleep, anxiety - the list of benefits is long!
Our intention is not only to utilise this transformative technology but also to provide our clients with a nurturing space to slow down and come back to self. While offering spaces that encourage (re)connection to self, we also endeavour to connect with our community through local collaborations and engagement with various causes we care deeply about.
One thing that inspires us about you is that you are in tune with the global community and the vulnerabilities faced by many people and places across the world. We'd love to hear more about the extensive work you've done in this space.
EVA: My professional background is in international aid and community development. I’ve worked in around fifteen countries across Asia, Africa, and North and South America focusing on projects related to sustainability and resource management, public health, social enterprise development and capacity building in vulnerable communities.
I’ve been lucky enough to work closely with some incredible people and organisations such as The Fred Hollows Foundation, Green School Bali Foundation, and various organisations implementing projects funded by the Australian aid program, Asian Development Bank and others.
This sort of work and exposure to incredible but often vulnerable locations has given me more of a global view of the impact our decisions have on a micro and a macro scale, especially when it comes to sustainability and economic responsibility.
The ethos of leaving a positive impact, not only on peoples lives but in the wider community is something I live for and felt immediately drawn to about the vision of Su and Neil with their Nimbus Co venture.
That leads us to our next questions, we have noticed that Nimbus Co has a strong ethical and environmental voice....tell us more about the community programs you facilitate.
EVA: We see it as a core responsibility as a collective to partner with a range of community organisations that are doing epic things to better the world. Across our studios, we contribute to local fundraising initiatives as well as implement more targeted engagement with charities and social enterprises.
Usually, a team member at one of the studios will make a suggestion about an initiative and it will be rolled out across all of the studios.
One example is a recent collaboration with Mettle (Click to learn more): a Perth-based organisation that supports survivors of domestic violence and homelessness due to abuse. As part of this partnership, they designed gift cards for us to sell in the studio and 100% of the proceeds go back to the organisation.
We are also working with Green Fleet Australia (click to learn more) on how to carbon offset our operations - something that is super straightforward and every business should be doing.
At a studio level, we engage with a range of other initiatives that our employees and customers are passionate about in their local communities.
I understand that you are rolling out a new staff program to support them in their journey's as well, can you shed some light on that?
EVA: Our staff are one of our most important assets and we consider ourselves a big family. Much like you would support the development and growth of your own family, we want to do the same for our staff. They are the Nimbus Co front line who hold space and create a safe environment for our community.
We are currently rolling out a national professional development initiative that will focus on mentoring, learning and education. The goal is to align their skill sets with what we need internally at the same time as supporting their growth for whatever awaits them.
Money is obviously not the only driver behind what you do, how do you measure the impact of your work?
EVA: Positive impact in the communities we work in is integral to our business strategy and planning.
Impact is a big word with so much potential, which is exciting when you’re in a position to lead your own business with this at the forefront of your thinking. We measure impact through what we can give back - whether this is providing safe spaces for our community for their own healing and self-care, through the engagement we have with community organisations such as Mettle and Green Fleet, our ability to support ethical health and wellness brands through our in-studio retail, and also through how Nimbus Co is perceived in the community.
When I meet someone who already knows about Nimbus Co and loves what we do and what we are about - empowerment, connection, vulnerability, self-love - that to me is among the greatest impact you can have. It is a way of living and the crucial message we are trying to cultivate and share.
It really sounds like you have got your finger on the pulse when it comes to using your business as a vehicle for good, tell us more about the concept, where it started, who with and what the steps you took to get the ball rolling were?
EVA: Su and I have been close friends since we were about fifteen. Although everyone always cautions against going into business with friends, for us it was this relationship that led to my investing in Nimbus Co Melbourne.
Su and I would have long, long chats over dinner about the importance of ethical and conscious business practices and what that meant for Nimbus Co 'which she had founded with her (now) husband Neil back in 2016 in Bondi.
Eventually, the idea sprouted for me to approach Su and Neil about the potential of me investing in a third Nimbus Co site with them. Our trust, history and mutual love and respect as friends meant that they were open to the idea - they knew me well, they knew where my values lay and that I also had my own skill set that was a good fit to join the Nimbus Co family and support the growth and evolution of the collective.
So how quickly did it go from idea to action?
EVA: I was living in Indonesia when we settled for Melbourne as the new studio site. Within six weeks of that decision, I had packed up and moved to Melbourne in the middle of winter to start location scouting. It was an absolute shock to the system but I also think this is key - at some point, you just have to jump in and back yourself, your business partners (if you have them) and your vision
Woah that's huge.....what’s the plan for Nimbus Co from here
EVA: Innovation is a constant topic of conversation within our team. We have some super exciting projects in the works that will see our online offering strengthen and expand. Community education and conversations with experts across many fields will be a big part of this.
In the studios, we will continue to focus on curating conscious spaces that support our community towards connection, healing and restoration.
We are constantly in talks about exciting collaborations like what we’ve previously done at Splendour in the Grass and Paramount Recreation Club.
We are so excited to keep following the Nimbus Co journey, it's a business that speaks our language and we can't wait to see the magic happen! So what's next for Eva?!
EVA: I’m quite obsessed with learning about social enterprise development and ethical business models so I’ll continue to expand my expertise in these areas.
I’m currently working on an eco-tourism project based in Lombok, Indonesia. It brings together concepts of sustainability, grassroots community engagement and empowerment, and social enterprise support for vulnerable communities.
Although it may be some time before I can physically get back into Indonesia, there is a lot of visioning, planning and groundwork that can be done in the lead up so we can hit the ground running with our local partners.
Incredible stuff Eva and thank you so much for your time today....one last question....what is your number one tip for anyone looking to start out?
EVA: Your offering needs to be aligned with your core values as a human. If that element isn’t there it will be such a challenge to find the motivation to keep going on the hardest days.
From there - plan, back yourself and show up consistently.