How did you get involved with paint? "As an enthusiastic decorator I got to know the manager of our local London paint shop, Rishi Subeathar. We both shared a passion for good-quality paint and decided to try to build a company, selling high-quality, environmentally friendly products."
"Paints that don't cost our earth" is your marketing slogan. What do you mean by this? "Our paint is manufactured in Iceland and Sweden. We try to do as little harm as possible to the environment in our day-to-day business. Every decision we make, from the eco credentials of the factory to the pure water in the paint, is bound by this. One hundred per cent of the energy utilised in the factory comes from geothermal and hydro-power sources; so no fossil fuels. The energy used is clean, pure and renewable. Our manufacturing process is 100 per cent carbon neutral."
How will you persuade people to use your product when there are cheaper alternatives? "There will always be owners and developers who care only about the bottom line and who won't pay for a superior-quality product. A good-quality paint gives better coverage and durability, which means you need to use less, less often, therefore it's kinder to the environment and your pocket. Eico is not more expensive than any other standard paint in Hong Kong. I believe education and customer demand is the way forward. If consumers continue to demand a safe living environment as an absolute minimum requirement, one day the only kind of paint to be found on walls anywhere will be a safe, kind, eco-friendly one."
How should we protect ourselves from toxic paint? "Different companies use different types of pigments and pigment compositions. Many, if not most, of these pigments are solvent-based and high in VOCs, with heavy metals such as copper, cobalt, cadmium and lead. A quick rule of thumb is that if there's a heavy metal in the pigment it's probably toxic. The titanium dioxide used as a base colour in our paints is the same as that which you'll find in good-quality cosmetics and dairy products."
What are VOCs? "Volatile organic compounds, which exist in everything from olive oil to dishwashers. They are released into the air when paint is applied, accounting for its distinctive smell, which can cause headaches, nausea and asthma. In a fire, it's the VOC fumes released by the heat that cause severe respiratory damage and can kill you. Our domestic paints have no smell and have zero VOC levels."
Do you customise colours? "We currently have more than 10,000 colours, with the ability to optically scan colours. We can safely say that we can make any colour."
Eico is at 15/F, Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 5367 6716. Alternatively, the paint can be bought from Tequila Kola stores.