‘Body Bag Girls’ the brains behind biodegradable pet coffins

Map:
Kojonup 6395
(ABC Great Southern: Ellie Honeybone) ABC Great Southern

By

Ellie Honeybone

Posted

September 03, 2018 06:39:57

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Zoe Ednie-Brown with one of her biodegradable caskets.
“We have been approached by a number of horse owners and sadly, we just don’t have anything that big,” Ms Ednie-Brown said.”Our caskets are designed for small animals, the pocket-sized ones or the kids’ pets, and our cadaver bags are suitable for everything else up to 110kg.”

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Zoe is particularly proud of the company’s biodegradable body bags. (ABC Great Southern: Ellie Honeybone)
At home on the farmWhile Ms Ednie-Brown and Ms Trethowan never rule anything out, they are confident they will stay put in Kojonup for now.”We married two Kojonup farm boys, and this is where they live,” Ms Ednie-Brown said.”Our kids are getting to boarding school age so that opens up a new side of life in Perth but with the internet and modern communications, you can do anything from home.”I literally operate the business from my garden, surrounded by animals and I love life as it is now.” (ABC Great Southern: Ellie Honeybone)
The weird and the wonderfulUnderstanding the novelty aspect of their business has been important for Ms Ednie-Brown and Ms Trethowan.”We literally live surrounded by body bags,” Ms Ednie-Brown said.”Our pets at home are well practised in casually hopping into a casket or bag on request so we can check dimensions and I have even been inside a few bags myself, while demonstrating their strength and size at vet clinics.”We have even stopped the car on the way to weddings to jump out and measure road kill.”The pair have even laughed all the way to Shanghai, where they won an international packaging award.”We were surrounded by all these huge companies like Sony and Chanel and there we were, the body bag farmers’ wives from Kojonup,” Ms Ednie-Brown said.”We have had body bags been stuck in postal boxes and recently we spilled a huge load of clearly labelled animal cadaver bags across a major intersection in Perth.”We never expected this was how our lives would turn out, but we love what we do.”

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Zoe Ednie-Brown and Jahna Trethowan have sold their pet products all over the world. Zoe Ednie-Brown and Jahna Trethowan spend half their time mustering sheep with their husbands on the farm and the other half moonlighting as the ‘Body Bag Girls’.The young mothers are the brains behind biodegradable animal cadaver bags and coffins, and run their global operation, Orchid Valley Pet Co, from the small country town of Kojonup in Western Australia’s south-west.They have found their niche in a world where people spend thousands of dollars on their animals and it all began with a pair of precious rodents. Photo:
Best friends and business partners Zoe Ednie-Brown and Jahna Trethowan. (Supplied: Jahna Trethowan)
From Orchid Valley with loveMs Ednie-Brown said she knew her business name had to include a reference to the Kojonup suburb she calls home.”I wanted to put us on the map and the Valley really is as pretty and wonderful as it sounds,” she said.”The other residents are very excited to see the name getting out and about and the local community has been very supportive of the venture.”The duo made some prototypes at home and trialled a number of different materials and designs.Once perfected, their products were soon being created overseas and the company launched in 2016.”Initially we sold [the caskets] to a handful of vets, but we quickly had interest from national distributers,” Ms Ednie-Brown said.”We now send our caskets and body bags all over Australia and New Zealand and currently we are negotiating a contract to sell in the UK and northern Europe.”We also sell to a lot of pet crematoriums — I didn’t know how many of those existed until we started this business.”The Orchid Valley pair like to think there is nothing they can’t do, but as it turns out, horse-sized caskets are not something they have been able to manage. (Supplied: Zoe Ednie-Brown)
All because of Tex and TazeTex the guinea pig was the first animal to be buried in an Orchid Valley pet casket prototype and was the catalyst for the unusual business.Ms Ednie-Brown was driving home from a vet clinic in Perth following Tex’s admission into intensive care when she found herself wondering what happens to all the animals who don’t make it out.”I always get a little bit embarrassed at the question of how we started because it requires me to come out as a guinea pig fanatic,” she said.”I grew up in the country, so we usually just buried our animals under a tree but in the metro areas there are people who live in flats and apartments who can’t do that.”I rang a vet friend who said it was actually quite an awkward process — the animals are stuffed into horrible black plastic bags that leak and are not easy to handle.”There was no fancy alternative and nothing that was biodegradable or suitable for cremation.”It was then that Ms Ednie-Brown decided to come up with an eco-friendly solution to provide to vets.She teamed up with her best friend, Ms Trethowan, and together they developed a dignified product to address a very common problem.Just a year after Tex was buried at home, his brother Taze became the first pet laid to rest in an official Orchid Valley casket. Photo:
Taze the guinea pig was the first pet to be buried in an Orchid Valley casket.