Small Town Success: How Ucluelet-based Mint Cleaning blossomed into an award-winning brand

Mint Cleaning founders Robyn Mair and Monika Scott are wiping out competitors in the natural cleaning category

In 2016, Robyn Mair and Monika Scott met at a mom’s group in Ucluelet. They instantly clicked—so much so that the very next day they decided to start a business together: Mint Cleaning.

At the time, they were both finishing their maternity leave. Mair couldn’t return to her demanding restaurant job with twins at home, and Scott was also looking for more flexibility in her career. Mair had dabbled in home cleaning during her maternity leave and contemplated continuing, while Scott, intrigued by the lack of cleaning services in Ucluelet, was keen to explore a change.

After growing their cleaning business from a duo to a dozen-strong team, they soon realized the toll toxic cleaning products were taking on their health. Battling issues like lung scarring and skin irritation, they decided to shift toward non-toxic alternatives.

But they couldn’t find any non-toxic cleaning products that they liked, and even the natural store-bought cleaning products weren’t eco-friendly, as they came in single-use plastic bottles. They began crafting their own products during the COVID shutdown, sharing the process with their budding online community, which has since swelled to nearly 50,000 followers. Then, once their cleaning business reopened, they provided their staff with their homemade cleaning products to use. “We had our team act as the testers every day, which helped us formulate the perfect recipe for each product,” says Scott.

Although they were encouraging people to make the product recipes themselves, the company’s Instagram followers began asking if they could purchase the products instead. Scott and Mair jumped on the opportunity: they hired a graphic designer, got labels made and ordered packaging. “It became a super fun passion project,” says Scott.

As demand surged, they chose to transition away from cleaning services to focus on product development. Despite the initial financial risk, the founders’ gamble paid off as products gained traction in Ucluelet and Tofino, eventually landing on the shelves of over 200 retail stores across Canada.

In 2022, when the number of stores on their wait list reached over 100, they decided to hire a Canadian manufacturer based out of Kelowna. While they still make many of their own products in-house, they outsource their five biggest sellers to the manufacturer so that they can keep up with retail demand. In total, they now have 19 products and nine full-time staff.

The last couple of years have been huge for the brand; in 2022, Mint Cleaning made it into Canadian TV personality Jillian Harris’s famed Jilly Box. In 2023, they won a Small Business BC award and opened their flagship retail store in Ucluelet, where they sell and craft their products.

According to Scott, the duo received an incredible amount of support from Ucluelet along their business journey. “I always say that if we started this business in Vancouver, I don’t think we would have made it. At the beginning, everyone was knocking on our doors and picking up their mason jars of cleaning products,” says Scott.

Over the next few years, Mair and Scott are set on becoming a one-stop shop for hotels and B&Bs in the hope of removing single-use plastics in the cleaning industry.

The pair recommends that those in small towns who want to start a business take the leap.

“People spend so much time trying to make it perfect, but it’s not going to be perfect,” says Mair. “If you look at our first labels, you’d be embarrassed. But we often come back to that, saying that if you’re not embarrassed by your first launch, then you launched too late.”

“You will get rejection, you will get nos, you will have setbacks,” continues Mair. “You just have to keep believing in yourself and know that you have a good product.”