Left: Monica Nassif, founder of Caldrea and Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day. Right: Thelma A. Meyer, her mother and the inspiration behind the Mrs. Meyer's line.
Last week I was invited to tour the office and lab of Mrs. Meyer's (and parent company Caldrea) in Minneapolis. Since we've written about Mrs. Meyer's before, I thought it'd be a great opportunity to get down and dirty (or rather, clean and aromatherapeutic) with this non-toxic cleaning company. I'll be writing a couple posts on what I learned—how the company started, what goes into their cleaners, and the scoop on their fragrances—but I'll start by introducing you to the REAL Mrs. Meyer, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person. (And I also tasted her homemade peach kuchen!)
Make sure to check out a video of Mrs. Thelma Meyer below that I recorded. It's a hoot!
How The Oldest of Ten Children Started a Company
It's one thing to see a product on a shelf, and quite another thing to understand the backstory of that product and how it came to be there. Monica Nassif, founder and former CEO of Caldrea and Mrs. Meyer, told us her eureka! moment came in 1999 when she was in Linens 'N Things and saw a bunch of cleaners in a pile on the floor. She thought it was just "the most pathetic thing," these cleaners sprawled out over the floor, with their ugly packaging and toxic ingredients. She began to wonder: why couldn't cleaning products be great? So, inspired by the beautiful, high-quality cleaning tools you find in Europe and her desire to make cleaners healthy and luxurious, she started Caldrea in January 2000, a line of household, non-toxic cleaners specializing in aromatherapy fragrance. Caldrea launched with 21 items in three fragrances (citrus mint, ylang ylang, and green tea patchouli) that were inspired by recipes Ms. Nassif found in old housekeeping books and ingredients you could "pluck from the garden."
Uh oh... My Mother Thinks These Products Are Too Expensive
Caldrea was priced at a higher price point and, according to Ms. Nassif, when she told her mother, Thelma Meyer, about the products, Thelma is reported to have defiantly declared that she'd never spend $8 on a bottle of dish soap! Thus, the more affordable line, Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day, was born, inspired through and through by Thelma A. Meyer, as evidenced in the Mrs. Meyer's mission statement:
Who said that homemaking—cleaning, organizing and daily tending—had to be tedious and unimaginative? Time spent at home is enjoyable, so why shouldn't caring for it be too? In this topsy-turvy world, tending to our surroundings should be first on our to-do lists.
The real Mrs. Meyer is an Iowa mother of nine—our founder included—who knows her way around a broom closet. With good humor and plenty of get-up-and-go, Mrs. Thelma Meyer is the conscience of clean and common sense that guides everything we do. Grit and grime don't stand a chance against this kind of gumption.
That all sounds well and good, and I may have pushed that aside as an interesting tidbit had I not met Mrs. Meyer in person and seen exactly what a feisty, no-nonsense person she is. Since becoming a household "brand," she has traveled far beyond the small Iowa town she's lived in with her husband of 50+ years. And this mother of nine is a natural spokeswoman, full of tidbits and little anecdotes about how you can live and clean better. Check out a few things she had to say below when asked what advice she'd offer to today's young men and women:
Coming Up: All about the ingredients in Mrs. Meyer's, how they make them, why they don't have unscented cleaners, and chemical questions and concerns answered!
(Images: Cambria Bold)