Organic beauty products that are as pure as the food that you eat, in carbon-neutral, compostable packaging that does not leave any harmful chemicals behind. It almost sounds too good to be true. But they exist and OWN is thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce two groundbreaking entrepreneurs and their amazing brands to our readers!
The dynamic husband and wife duo, Ellery and Gail West, turned their concern for the health and well-being of people and the planet into two booming business ventures: Organic Essence, a range of organic beauty products for your face and body, all with organic USDA certification; and Eco Vision Packaging, a company that makes plastic-free, biodegradable jars for beauty products.
The Organic Essence trade dress was initially developed for the natural channel, but Ellery and Gail found that it was not a perfect fit for their brand because most ‘natural’ products are similar to conventional chemical products but with 20 percent higher pricing which is devoted towards additional marketing. Now they are changing the look of the Organic Essence beauty brand to communicate the superior qualities of the brand better and open it up to a broader audience, such as the beauty, gift, and emerging ‘refill’ channels.
“The products themselves will be unchanged," says Ellery West. “And we are trimming the number of deodorants on offer to provide a solid base to build upon.”
Currently, Organic Essence is offering eight different products, presented in sturdy, practical paper tubes and jars. With the new branding, fans of the brand will find new additions to the sustainable product line. “Our next product will be a muscle rub stick packaged similarly as our deodorants. We have superior formulations for hair care, for instance, but developing sustainable packaging is like trailblazing in the forest. Everything takes ten times longer!”The formulations in the Organic Essence line use shea butter as a base combined with other ingredients depending on the end use. In the beginning, developing formulas to comply with the strict USDA Organic regulations was complicated because the raw material supply chain was much more limited than today. Over the years this has become easier as more certified organic raw material became available.
“We only purchase raw materials from reputable USDA Organic certified suppliers,” Ellery explains. “Most of our production is shipped overseas. Europeans are far more receptive to sustainable products than Americans. The Chinese are very interested in USDA Organic, which is the world’s most important organic standard for cosmetic products. Despite the ominous sounds in the news, many Russians love American organic products and are especially hungry for sustainability since their environment took such a hard hit in the Soviet era.”
Ellery and Gail West created Organic Essence to help people avoid synthetic chemicals and became troubled by the limited sustainable packaging options available to them. They did not want their organic products getting contaminated by phthalates and other chemicals known to leach from plastics.
A tragedy with a thirty-foot juvenile sperm whale which had starved to death with its stomach filled with plastic further inspired them to work towards a solution to avoid this material. After a few years of hard work, Ellery and Gail developed and patented the plastic-free packaging used for Organic Essence, which is sold under the sister firm Eco Vision Packaging. The jars and tubes are made of paper, fully biodegradable and home compostable. They are light and are excellent alternatives to single-use plastic.
“Our quickest invention-to-production was about one month with handmade lip balm tubes; other packages took several months. We have a couple in the pipeline that are nearing their second and fourth birthdays. I believe that just about everything presented now in plastic can be packaged sustainably – and cost-effectively– in paper packaging with the proper production scale. As consumers, we lack rational price signals, which means that currently, all of us are complicit in massive environmental theft because we don’t pay the end of life costs of plastic pollution. Plastic seems cheap to buy, but it’s deadly expensive. If the cost of comprehensive recycling were built into the price of all plastic packaging and products, consumers would automatically make better purchasing decisions – and the environment would benefit immeasurably.”
The Eco Vision Packaging solutions are also available to other beauty brands willing to offer not only formulations free from synthetic and toxic substances but in a packaging that is non-toxic and will not harm the environment.
Currently, over 30 brands are using these innovative packaging solutions, and the number is continuously growing as consumers become more aware of the environmental cost of plastic pollution. To make their products more price competitive, Ellery and Gail West are developing equipment that will enable production automation. “Our handmade lip balm package will experience a drastic price improvement,” advises Ellery. “It’s about time since we have made over a half-million of them with California hand labor! A lot of our new package development is focused on utilizing and re-purposing existing packaging production equipment. The industry is waking up to the fact that bringing sustainability to consumer-packaged goods is becoming an existential requirement.”
Eco Vision Packaging started with paper packaging for anhydrous products, but Ellery and Gail are convinced that packaging liquids – without any plastic whatsoever – is achievable.
“This isn’t rocket science. I don’t know if we’ll be a part of it, but a non-plastic, paper bottle for liquids is coming because consumer demand eventually will become overwhelming.”
For most anhydrous products, Eco Vision Packaging's paper solution provides the same product protection and shelf life as plastic. For products that require enhanced oxidation protection, solutions exist that offer similar or better oxygen impermeability than PET plastic, which is one of the most commonly used plastics in the world. An oxygen-holdout package is also under development.
In addition to the fantastic advantage of reducing plastic waste, another excellent reason for choosing Eco Vision Packaging is that the products receive more shelf presence. All the exterior surfaces can be printed; the extra messaging space can range from 10 percent to 70 percent more than a comparable glass, plastic or metal package. Moreover, it is the perfect choice for any vegan product.
“Vegan products are experiencing a massive increase in consumer interest, and many brands are rushing to address this demand. However, many products marketed to Vegans are patently unsustainable and will suffer a backlash as the Vegan community matures, and considers all life as worthy of ethical treatment,” adds Ellery West.
The immediate goals for Organic Essence in 2019 are to flesh out the product lines and enhance brand presence and distribution in Europe. With Eco Vision Packaging, the goal is to start offering more competitive priced paper lip balm packages before year-end and to establish its production in Europe as well.