“Every brand has the ability to move the needle on sustainability,” Ashley Prange, founder and CEO of Au Naturale Cosmetics, tells Cosmetics Design.
And, she explains that for personal care and beauty brands, it’s not simply a matter of business strategy or environmental ethics, it’s about meeting consumer demand: “People need to look broad spectrum at the impact that they’re creating with their brand and their consumer….and we all have to be mindful that we can be the change our consumers want us to be!”
Intention and motivation
Prange moved from Washington DC to Wisconsin to be able to source and manufacture her brand’s color cosmetics products locally. In fact, she sources more than just ingredients like organic sunflower and lavender oil from the area. Au Naturale Cosmetics works to have a very short supply chain and uses local packaging, local marketing collateral, local labor, and local manufacturing, operations, and fulfillment facilities too.
“There’s so much that goes into a finished product beyond ingredients,” she explains. “We have worked hard to create a footprint with nominal impact on the environment. By keeping everything -work force, fulfillment, manufacturing - right here - we are reducing our carbon footprint and proving that incorporating sustainability into your business model is feasible.”
Ann Leslie and her husband are even closer to the source of their skin care brand’s hero ingredients: “We are macadamia farmers ourselves, so our key ingredient in all our [Pure Nut]products is macadamia oil,” she tells Cosmetics Design. “We also source Manuka honey from a local Bee Keeper. He brings his bees to our farm in the Spring and in return he sells us his Manuka honey for a better price.”
“Personally I think it helps make the brand more credible,” says Leslie. “Knowing where my ingredients come from and the quality makes it easier to stand confidently behind my brand.”
Verification and certification
Local doesn’t automatically equate to natural or to pure or to quality. But verifying the details of ingredient production can be easier when it’s all happening nearby.
In the case of Pure Nut “the cosmetic lab is happy to use our locally sourced key ingredients (Macadamia oil and Manuka honey) in the formulation of our products. The ingredients need to come with the correct certification to be able to enter the lab though i.e., A Certificate of Analysis. This also helps ensure the ingredients meet the high standards,” explains Leslie.
Prange seems to agree. “You have to vet your suppliers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it is that even if someone is making natural and organic claims, until you go to where they are producing the product you can’t know for sure,” she tells Cosmetics Design, adding this for-instance: “Are they using solvents to extract oil from a plant? Hexane is regularly used in the production of oil and this compromises the word natural. If you want to source locally, you need to understand all of the facts before you make any claims.”
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.