Wimbledon chemist shortlisted for award after producing plant-based cleaning products

By Alexandra Warren

A chemist has been shortlisted for an award after being inspired to create plant-based child-friendly cleaning products by his baby niece.

Wimbledon-based Von Sy decided to find safe and effective soaps after seeing little Rhianne’s milk bottles stay cloudy and smelly after being cleaned with detergent.

His inventions have led to his nomination for the Health and Wellbeing Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the London and East of England Region in the 2020 Great British Entrepreneur awards.

Mr Sy said: “Life as an entrepreneur is very challenging, and there can be a lot of ‘downs’ before you see the ‘ups’. Being shortlisted for this award is certainly a huge ‘up’ and I’m thrilled to be recognised.”

Mr Sy formulated his products from ingredients derived from coconuts, corn and sugarcane, with the intention of cleaning effectively without using toxic chemicals.

Mr Sy’s company Nimble’s first creation was the Milk Buster, a spray which breaks down milk fats and proteins left on baby’s bottle.

The company now sells a range of family friendly cleaning products, including a bleach-free antibacterial spray called Sticky Stopper and a tough yet gentle washing liquid called Laundry Love.

Mr Sy said: “Choosing the right ingredients isn’t the most difficult aspect as sustainable, yet still effective, ingredients are becoming more common because of changes in the chemicals industry.

“If you lean towards highly effective ingredients, then it normally makes the environmental profile worse and cost higher. If you lean towards a very good environmental profile, then you could end up with less effective and very expensive products.

“The challenge is how to balance effectiveness, sustainability and cost in one equation – they are like the three points of a triangle.”

His own daughter Juliana motivated him even more.

He said: “Having my own child meant that I understood better the pains of being a parent, especially when I see my wife dealing with all the work involving feeding and cleaning up.

“Being a parent myself also allows me to see how best to communicate our products’ benefits to other parents as I understand and speak their language. It has also inspired me to come up with our new products launching very soon, so watch this space.”

Mr Sy said he always knew one day he would start his own company, after being born in the Philippines to Chinese migrants.

He said: “Historically the Chinese in the Philippines have been people who made their living by being in business. So growing up, I’ve been surrounded by adults who are in business – my parents, uncles and aunts, my friends’ parents.”

He showed an enterprising spirit from a young age, selling both ice lollies from his parents’ garden as a child and stationary as a teenager.

The Great British Entrepreneur Awards have recognised enterprising minds in the UK since 2013 with previous winners including JustEat and LADBible.

The regional winners will be announced at an online ceremony on September 23 and the national finalists will be revealed in November.

Pictured top: Von Sy

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