A BC Brand Committed to Planet Friendly Cleaning

Starting with dryer balls launched some 20 years ago, Nellie’s has grown to become one of the leading eco-friendly laundry and household cleaning product lines around.

Nellie’s products are free from toxins, hypoallergenic, and in biodegradable packaging, or that can be repurposed and refilled. Concentrated cleaners mean less use of water too. Proudly from North Vancouver, owner James Roberts is an entrepreneur with a vision, taking the brand to its present state of excellence. Contributor Catherine Dunwoody chatted with him recently.



What is your professional background prior to Nellie’s?

JR: Selling unique products through consumer trade shows, fairs, and exhibitions across Canada.



Who is the dog in the photos and on your packaging?

JR: The dog on Nellie’s packaging is Nugget, my actual childhood dog, and the dog in recent photos with me, is Ryder, my current pet and best furry friend.


The Dryerballs first product 20 years ago, and a game changer in laundry products. How were they first sold?

JR: Dryerballs were originally launched under a different brand name with a business partner that had access to big retail outlets.  They were a hit! Eventually we agreed to launch a slightly different version under the Nellie’s name and sell side by side with the original. The Dryerball’s success in multiple retail stores allowed us to continue launching products under the Nellie’s brand name. Outside of retail, we took them on the road to consumer trade shows (along with other products).

How long did it take to crack the retail market, and where was that?

JR: The partnership with the original Dryerballs allowed us access to the retail market pretty quick and their continued success under the Nellie’s brand name was a gateway to adding more Nellie’s products into those retail stores.  From there we built a sales team and went after retailers across North America and worldwide.  Locally, one of the first retailers to carry Nellie’s was London Drugs.

Rubber balls vs. wool – what are the differences between the 2 types of dryerballs you make?

JR: The traditional and original thermal plastic rubber dryerballs were a great alternate to toxic dryer sheets and fabric softeners and are still sold online and in retail today.  As the company moved towards more sustainable product production, we added handmade wool dryerballs and scented wool dryerballs.  The main difference is that they are softer and more sustainable (no plastic).



What is your top selling product?

JR: Our Laundry Soda. While competitors were focused on liquid soaps in plastic bottles, we found a way to deliver high-performing, concentrated laundry soap in a reusable metal tin.  We didn’t add fillers or phosphates and were able to put 100 loads into a pretty small tin. The packaging is very attractive to shoppers, but it was important the product work well for customer retention. It’s important to us not only to produce planet friendly and safe products, but that they actually work.


What is your newest product?

JR: We recently launched a dishwashing product called Nellie’s Dish Stick that eliminates plastic liquid soap bottles, sponges, and dish cloths.  It is a minimalistic looking dish brush that can be refilled with a concentrated and powerful semi-solid dish soap sticks.  It is safe for all cookware and the soap easily cuts grease and grime. The handle is endlessly reusable, and the heads can be replaced as needed. The refill soaps are available on a subscription basis.  A new venture for us.

What is your favourite product personally?

JR: The Dish Stick!  I have patent(s) pending on this product and am proud of this product and the impact It could have on the planet.

Anything in the works you can share or hint at?

JR: We always have something in the works.  We have a zero-waste laundry product being developed that will get our best-selling detergent into more hands regardless of age or budget.  The next generation is looking for products like Nellie’s and we are going to make it easy for them to access.

Do you see an uptick in customers concerned about cleaning products and the impact they have on the planet?

JR: I do, especially with the next generation. I think we were manufacturing planet friendly products long before it was ‘cool’.  Our products actually work, and we are always looking at new ways of getting it into the hands of customers regardless of age and budget.


Nellie’s products are available directly at nelliesclean.ca plus London Drugs, Amazon, Well.ca, Canadian Tire, Costco, Walmart, and traditional grocery stores.