Meet the women that embody the Gojek spirit of empowerment. This March, as we celebrate IWD, we put the spotlight on those who are re-shaping the industries they are in, marching to the beat of their own drums, and/or simply redefining what it means to be a woman.
The first thing we notice about Jacqueline Wong is her warmth and empathy. The second is a passion that seems bottomless, for everything from her many years as a human resources consultant, to being a mother, and even her hobbies.
All these qualities come together in The Clean Attempt (TCA) – with the emphasis on attempt. What was once her way of documenting her own journey to lessen waste – and share with others tips and tricks for doing so – has since grown into an online sustainable shop: one she runs with her friends, Carol and Steve.
Jacqueline tells us more on the process of ensuring low-waste products remain convenient for the modern clientele; her adventures in being TCA’s very own test subject, and the importance of making these small attempts.
Gojek team (GT): How did TCA begin?
Jacqueline Wong (JW): One day, I read somewhere that the very first toothbrush ever made still exists to this day. I went crazy. I thought, “no way it does, right?” But I checked, and it did.
So I started my own attempt at a zero-waste life, and then I documented it on Instagram. In the process, I took 9 months to create a toothbrush that I thought people would want to display on their countertop. One that is self-standing, quick-drying, ergonomic, and biodegradable. That started the ball rolling.
GT: Why the name The Clean Attempt?
JW: The thing about TCA is that it was a documentation of my own journey – one that is unique to me. Everyone’s journey to low-waste is different, so it’s okay if it’s just an “attempt”. It’s never just all or nothing – you don’t have to be absolutely zero-waste to make a difference. These small things matter.
The first TCA product, the (out)standing toothbrush, took 9 months to create.
GT: We’ve noticed that most of TCA’s products aren’t sourced from elsewhere, but rather created by your own team. Where do your ideas come from?
JW: I mean, at the end of the day, it’s important for me that we don’t follow trends. A lot of my ideas rely on how people lived in the past, especially their reliance on organic, natural materials. How people never needed a 10-step beauty routine and still had good skin. That’s why we have a multi-purpose travel soap that cleanses all that need to be cleansed.
But I’m also interested in offering products that aren’t seen elsewhere. I hated the smell of apple cider vinegar so we created hair-rinse crystals based on citric acid, which we’ve never seen done by anyone else before.
GT: Yeah, saying you use the same soap for everything feels extremely controversial these days.
JW: *laughs* It’s weird, telling people that I often just use one product for many things. It’s the same soap for my face, laundry, and baby’s bottles. I often have to brace myself for shocked faces.
GT: What’s the most difficult part about creating your own products?
JW: I’ve always made my own things and I already knew how to make soap before TCA began. I’d say it’s the testing that’s a bit more tedious. I am my own lab rat, after all. I started using my own tooth powder for more than a year before it was launched on the store. When we designed our menstrual cups, it was 20 different prototypes I had to schedule testing over 5 days every month (go figure)!
GT: How do you think TCA has changed you?
JW: I stayed with my full-time job because TCA started out as a hobby, so the fact that I did not have to think too much about revenue helped me be a lot more fearless. I was able to get very creative with the products, experimented a lot more, and I think I managed to develop more meaningful, impactful ones.
GT: What are your future plans for TCA?
JW: I absolutely hate competition, so I don’t think we’ll scale up the way retail shops do traditionally in Singapore. Maybe we’ll focus more on our regional online presence – how to, for one, raise awareness by partnering with the right organizations, and maybe figure out how to ensure people have access to my products should they need them for their own journey to a more sustainable life.