Import Ants and ECOMAX Brushes: About the Makers

Import Ants Maker Photo Sri Lanka


Where: Wattala and Kurunegala, Sri Lanka
When: Established in 2008
Who: Founded by Kim Good (Australia)
Demographics of Workers: Women from rural areas with low socioeconomic backgrounds
Products: Cleaning brushes and other kitchen, bathroom and household products
Materials Used: Coconut fibre, sisal fibre, Luffa aegyptiaca plant, jute, timber, natural rubber, bamboo, tampico, rice root, galvanised steel.
Values: Fair Trade, sustainability, plastic free, supporting disadvantaged women, vegan, organic and natural materials
Memberships and Certifications: Endorsed by The Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand, the Vegan Society registered

Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand Logo

“Eco Max Brushes are completely natural, with no plastics or chemicals. And coconut fibre is naturally anti-bacterial, so it is such an awesome natural fibre for cleaning. Plus plant fibres are sustainable and biodegradable,”

“Not only are they a natural alternative to plastics in the home, they are also ethically handmade. They provide a sustainable industry in Sri Lanka, which means you are not only helping the environment but the women that make them as well.” 

- Kim Good

Kim Good, founder of Import Ants and Ecomax

Pictured: Kim Good, Import Ants founder

The story behind Import Ants

There was an unlikely source of inspiration behind the creation of Import Ants: elephant poo. Or more specifically, paper made from it.

It was 2008, and Sydney based entrepreneur Kim Good was sick and tired of Australia’s reliance on plastic. On a trip to Sri Lanka, Kim discovered that locals were making paper from elephant dung. Elephants’ plant based diet means that their dung contains grass and other vegetable fibres. Rinsed and recovered, these fibres can be upcycled into tree-less paper. And so Import Ants began with Kim working directly with disadvantaged artisans in Sri Lanka, creating recycled and plastic free products.

Ecomax brushes maker Sri Lanka

Import Ants continued to evolve and soon EcoMax was born, a collection of household brushes inspired by the natural fibre brushes commonly used in Sri Lanka. Working with a team of Sri Lankan women, Import Ants began manufacturing cleaning and body brushes made from coconut fibre and sisal, as well as other household products like soap holders crafted from metal. The grassroots model of Kim partnering directly with local artisans means that she knows exactly who she is working with and has inspected the workshops herself. Import Ants have been endorsed as having Fair Trade principles at the core of their business by the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand.

About the Makers

 Eco Max Brushes Makers in Sri Lanka

Import Ants works with two producer groups in Sri Lanka - one factory is located in Wattala, just north of the capital Colombo, and the other is in the rural area of Kurunegala. The workforce is made up entirely of women with ages ranging from 17 to 72. The women receive a living wage as well as superannuation, and the factories have plenty of natural light and ventilation. The artisans are trained in all areas of the production process including making the brushes and packaging them to be shipped.

Flexible work arrangements give artisans the option to work from home, work part time or work full time, allowing the women to balance their job with caring for their children and elderly family members. In 2019, an onsite daycare facility was built at one of the factories, providing free daycare, after school care and English classes for the artisans’ children. This gave many of the women the freedom to return to full time work.

Import Ants pay a Fair Trade premium on top of the prices paid for the brushes. This premium is a sum of money for the producers to use on things that they decide will benefit their community. When Import Ants began, the women artisans lived in a shanty town that regularly flooded. The community was able to negotiate with the government and use the Fair Trade premiums to rebuild their houses on new land that wasn’t flood prone.

An Eco Friendly Business Model

Coconut fibre

Photo by Jonas Dücker

One of the central values of Import Ants is caring for the environment and they approach this in a holistic way that takes into account the entire life cycle of their products.

1. Sustainable Materials

The products are made from sustainably sourced, 100% plant based materials including waste material from the local building industry, plantation timbers from local FSC certified forests and rubber wood sourced from trees at the end of their rubber (latex) producing lives

2. Built to Last

High quality materials and craftsmanship means the brushes are sturdy and built to last

3. Biodegradable

When the brushes reach the end of their usable life, they can be thrown in the compost to biodegrade

Import Ants products - Ecomax brushes and wire soap caddy

Support these makers by purchasing Import Ants and ECOMAX products here.