Q&A

Axiology founder on focusing on hero SCUs to become plastic-free

By Ravyn Cullor contact

- Last updated on GMT

Axiology is expanding from 100 Ulta locations to 200 with their lip balm and highlighter. Image courtesy of Axiology
Axiology is expanding from 100 Ulta locations to 200 with their lip balm and highlighter. Image courtesy of Axiology

Related tags: vegan, Color cosmetics, plastic-free, Sustainable packaging, sustainable beauty, paper packaging

Vegan beauty brand Axiology recently pared down their listings in order to become plastic-free and is now doubling its Ulta in-store footprint.

CosmeticsDesign spoke with brand founder Ericka Rodriguez about making the transition and the next steps for the brand.

To start out, tell me a little bit about your brand.

We're a vegan, cruelty-free and clean makeup brand. All of our products contain 10 ingredients or less and we recently transitioned to becoming a 100% plastic-free beauty brand. We're most well known for our zero waste balmies. 

We're also palm oil-free, which is not easy to do, and people can understand what most of our ingredients are. They’re common ingredients like avocado oil, coconut oil and castor oil.

Tell me a little bit about the decision to scale back your SCUs.

Circle of axiology products
Image courtesy of Axiology

I started this brand because I'm a lifetime animal welfare advocate. I stopped eating meat when I was 11 years old and I’ve really focused on animals my whole life. I was in my early 20s when I discovered that animal testing was still a thing in cosmetics and that horrified me. I thought that that was a thing of the past. 

My brand started as a vegan brand. As the brand has slowly grown, I've maintained an interest in environmentalism. Recently, I heard that the beauty industry is responsible for 120 billion units of packaging waste every single year. 

That really triggered me, especially when I was already feeling icky about all of the waste. We inevitably have to produce waste as a brand. That just kind of sealed the deal for me, I really don't want to be part of that anymore. 

I still wanted to keep Axiology alive, I still wanted to offer a better, safer alternative to plastic. So we decided just to ditch plastic and become plastic-free.

Can you tell me a little bit more about what the ‘rose and thorn’ of making that transition was?

The hard part is finding manufacturers to help us. That's actually how we ended up creating our balmies because we were looking for manufacturers who could make a 100% recycled lipstick a few years ago. We couldn't find any manufacturers to do that. 

The closest we got to our sustainability goal was lipstick tubes with 50% post-consumer recycled plastic that is not recycled after that. At the time, we thought we'd just do that for the lipsticks. 

But we still were not meeting our goal of what we wanted to put out into the world. That's how we started developing our balmies. We just had to do it ourselves, without any manufacturers involved. Now it's on us to innovate and find the right partners or just do it ourselves. 

Tell me a little bit about your kind of retail expansion into Ulta.

We launched the balmies in Ulta with 100 doors in October 2020. We recently expanded this month in May into 100 more doors with our balmies

What's the next step for your plastic-free transition and this focus on your hero SCUs?

We are working on plastic negative certification right now. We discontinued all of our lipstick tubes that are plastic and we are relaunching those in paper tubes this coming fall. Then we have a new product launching in early 2023 which will be in paper. This product is not traditionally in paper, so it should be pretty exciting.

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