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Beauty & the SCC: Earth Month Panel with Dip & Dew Mighty

Posted by Kate Assaraf on
Beauty & the SCC:  Earth Month Panel with Dip & Dew Mighty

Do you want to know what is happening behind the scenes in Beauty & Cosmetics?  This is a raw transcription from our chat at the California Society of Cosmetic Chemists' Earth Month meeting in Los Angeles. 

 Pour yourself a cup of tea and relax, it's a long read. We cover lots of topics including:

  • Sustainability
  • Packaging
  • Palm Oil
  • Organic certs
  • and more...

 Michelle Carrillo of Actera Ingredients is the Oprah in this situation, asking both Tiffany Buzzatto from Dew Mighty & Kate Assaraf from Dip Sustainable Hair Care about what Sustainability even is.

Michelle:

Because it is Earth Month, today's panel is about the cosmetic industry making impactful moves to become a waste free/zero consumption and whatnot. Do we have responsibility to do that? So, I was lucky enough to contact these two lovely ladies. What they've done was create a brand, not just for zero waste and sustainability, but they've dedicated their lives & abandoned their other careers for it. So first off, I'm going introduce this wonderful lady to my right. I'm pretty sure you guys all know her. Her name is Tiffany Buzzatto with two Zs, two Ts. And she actually is the CEO and founder of Dew Mighty. So if you don't know, Dew Mighty is clean and effective skincare products while striving for zero waste. Okay. Products are to be designed to build up a higher performance without plastic, same with water and contain minimal packaging. So, sustainability was not an afterthought but really a primary reason why this brand was born. So, give it up for Tiffany. 

Michelle:

Our second panelist here is Kate Assaraf. And she is the founder of Dip Sustainable Haircare. So if you don't know what that is, you need to look her up right now. But Dip sustainable haircare is an environmental awareness company parading around as a darn good personal care company, not the other way around. That's actually on her website. The haircare bar she has is one bar for all hair types and genuinely performs like luxury salon brands. The goal of Dip is to inspire you to buy better and buy less, and shop small. So with that, we will start our questions.

Michelle:

So, the way this is going to work is I'll ask a question and either one will answer in their own opinions. And if anyone has questions, that will be at the very end. Okay? So with that, the first question is, to both of you, tell us a little bit about yourselves. Who are you, your background?

Kate:

Hello. I'm Kate. I started my beauty career here in LA, actually. But I flew in here from New Jersey for the talk. I worked with Jim Earnest all the way over there in the back! There he is. Hey Jim! At Skinn Cosmetics. And then I worked with the Kardashians, and then in the toy industry--moved overseas to the UK & Paris. And then I kind of did the mom thing for a while consulting behind the scenes for beauty brands--and now I'm doing...the dip. So that's the path. I started Dip because I think there's nothing worse than trying to do the right thing and buying sustainable products and then just ending up with a product that doesn't work. A lot of people are sold sustainable products and a lot of them just stink. So, it's like the nicest way to put it, but it's not zero waste if it doesn't work. That's just the long and short of it.

Kate:

So, I challenged my chemist, my company would be nothing without my cosmetic chemist by the way, who is amazing, how can we make that a bar that works for all hair types that genuinely performs and doesn't leave people feeling like they've been duped? So, that's what I did. With our shampoo bar, I don't think anyone really genuinely likes rubbing a shampoo bar on their head. So, I challenged him like, "What if we could make something that, the less you press to your head, the more it lathers?" And that's what we did together. So for anyone with thinning hair or even type four hair that's more prone to breakage, the shampoo bar is godsend. And it's fun to use. The conditioner bar really just... it performs like real luxury brands. And for someone like me that was buying very expensive salon brands, probably spending between 50 to 70 bucks a month just in conditioner alone, my one conditioner bar replaces 12 tubes of that stuff. So, that's a lot of plastic off the shelf that doesn't need to be created in the first place.

Tiffany:

Hi, guys. I started in ingredients. We have DD Chem Co here. I was in the gang! But no seriously, so many of you already know me. It's been a long time of learning about science, being on the inside of beauty. Ingredients were probably the greater part of my career at DD Chem Co and DSM before moving on to manufacturing and then also consulting for beauty brands. After many years of doing different roles in business development, science based roles, and just understanding marketing and what consumers wanted, I realized there was a large problem with how we develop products, how thoughtfully they were designed, and how long they lasted. But I didn't want to sacrifice my skincare routine or the performance of these products just because I wanted to do something better.

Tiffany:

And that was really when Dew Mighty was born and I decided to create the first and only product, our solid serum, and up until Friday, April 22nd, we launched a second product. So if you can believe it, or solid serum was the one and only product for two years in the company when, April 2020, we launched. But that's really our mission, that we can change people's mind, offer high performance products, and solve something for people who don't want to just rub bare oils and coconuts on their face because, you know what? There's a lot of people who care about our environment, what we put into it, and a little more a circular way of producing and consuming products. And those are the people that we talk to and cater to.

Michelle:

Wonderful. So, I love both of your stories. I think it's very fascinating. I think you, you being a beauty supplier and now owning a brand. The next question is about sustainability and zero waste. So, this has been a topic of conversation for a while now. And more companies are making an effort towards this. Now "clean beauty" is being seen everywhere. Basically, companies the way of being environmentally conscious and responsible. Can you define what truly sustainable is to you? And does clean beauty fall in line with this?

Tiffany:

Do you want go first? I think we have a very common thread in this. I'll hand it over to Kate because she's got a great way of speaking to this that's... she's not from the chemical world. But obviously, clean beauty was a mega trend and is or continues to be so. But never really considered materials and packaging or impact of those materials with the product. So, there's a little bit lacking there. And it was a standard created not necessarily by science. So, with that...

Kate:

So, I guess the root is, what does sustainability mean to me, right? So, sustainability obviously is something that is fluid and changing all the time. So, for me anyway, it's using the knowledge that we have today to make the best thing within those constraints right now. I think all of the things that we're discovering that are not good for us, or just kind of wreaking havoc on our endocrine systems and everything, they were not made with bad intentions. And I don't think that things came into production because there was a Dr. Claw out there trying to ruin it for all of us. Right now, we're just trying to work in the best way with what we have. So, sustainability is going to be a fluid conversation. It's not something that's a hard line in the sand. And I think that it gets hijacked often by people that draw these lines in the sand that really don't make a lot of sense to someone who speaks in science, or to someone who speaks in doses, materials or manufacturing. And I think that because it's changing all the time, it's very hard to define.

Kate:

The biggest thing for me is plastics. That's my crusade. Plastics and any kind of thing that's a known endocrine disruptor, kind of just changing the way we're moving along on this spinning rock, you know? And then the second part of that... oh, clean beauty. So, clean beauty is one of these funny things that, again, is hijacked by, I want to say, people not of science. Right? And I see a couple people nodding in here because you know that people take little pieces of a study and then throw it into a blogosphere with a couple characters and before you know it, it turns into something that it isn't. It's not done or looked at in a thoughtful way. 

Kate:

So for me on my website, I actually have a page that's called The End of Clean Beauty, and I think that right now, you can't cherry pick science when it's convenient for you. And lots of people are starting to catch on that there's a lot of fear marketing out there and there's a lot that's rightly justified and then there's a lot that's not. So, I think it's very cool that "clean beauty" is tapering off as a term because it really doesn't mean anything unless someone else wants to take the mic and tell me that it really means something. That's kind of where I stand on those things.

Tiffany:

Yeah. And I just want to say, we're also very lucky in the time that we're developing products as a company because both of our companies, hers being in October, right? Of 2021. And ours being April 2020. We kind of built from the ground up. So, we had the knowledge and the people around us to do the research and to look at materials to formulate and just do it differently. We're not in a system where we had to bandaid things together. We just were able to build. And so that really makes a difference. So, when clean beauty came along, they were building based off of ingredients and cherry picking studies or looking at only what is banned or used in the EU, which by the way, is constantly changing, right? We're going to have a regulatory update, where they're always updated, but we're self regulated here.

Tiffany:

So what does that mean? We're the wild west of cosmetics. But all of the US. I think we're going to make something and sell it and say that's it's safe but that's not the case in other areas of the world. So, when I look and see "clean beauty", we really try to talk about our ingredients transparently. We have an entire page, actually, dedicated to it. And probably more than 50% of our questions coming in about our products are about those items. But we answer most of them before they come in. So, it's just a unique way of being and thinking. But I would hope that every company moving forward looks at their products that way as well. And maybe when you're formulating also, we know that there's hidden plastics and sprayed coatings that don't get included in ingredient lists and all these fun nuances when you look at the whole picture.

Michelle:

All right. Thank you. Let's talk about taking responsibility for our planet. Now, who bears the most responsibility in helping the mission? Is it through corporation's messaging? Is it ingredient packaging suppliers? Is it development process, manufacturers, or all of the above?

Tiffany:

Well, I would honestly hope that everybody kind of looks at maybe what they consume. And I would just say right off the bat, right now with kind of how we all live our lives and the number of products that we purchase, whether it's fashion or beauty or food, we're very lucky to be here. Just know that like, our country consumes eight times more in resource than in any other country, which is significant. And also, that manufacturers need to be held accountable with different programs and responsibility regulations that really go through the whole life cycle of what's being made, how long it lasts on this planet.

Tiffany:

It's not on the shoulders of only a consumer if you don't have the options out there. But that being said, if many of you have young children at home who are paying attention to the strikes that are going on in the UK about oil pipelines and some of the other really hot topics right now for environmental justice, there's a lot of eco anxiety. And I say this not as a joke, but literally, they don't necessarily see a future. And not everyone understands that because I heard a scoff. And that happens. We're in an age where we've produced plastics for 70 years. It was created and then hockey stick manufactured in a short amount of time. And how do we know how long it's going to last? Are we just going to burn it all? It's a very complicated topic. But those are all things that I think we like talking about, so we hope there's a lot of questions afterwards. And I think the entire life cycle and who produces it and how to have pieces of that actually reflected in the pricing of the product in a genuine way is going to be very important.

Kate:

And I guess for me, I think the responsibility really falls on the shoulders of both the brands and the consumers, actually. I think consumers drive what brands produce. And I also think that brands have to have some courage to deliver that. It's very, very easy to... I don't know how many of you have been in these marketing meetings where someone brings a benchmark of another product and they're like, "Just make this and do this and we'll repurpose this." But that's really not what moves the needle in any which way. And I think that brands have to start listening to what the consumer wants.

Kate:

The consumer wants not something that's ambiguously "clean". They want something effective and they want something that's not going to leave a lot of garbage behind. And we're able to because we're all... this room is full of super smart chemists. And it's so cool that we're all in this position to problem solve in this industry and make it so that there's not a lot of garbage left behind. And I think that there's also another layer, for me anyway, is if you're listening, people are demanding to know with full transparency the byproducts of everything. Right? So all the externalities of what we are making.

Kate:

For me, I'm trying to fight palletized goods, which someone would scoff at because they're like, "Then how the hell do you get something shipped somewhere?" But I think that really means there's need for innovation because you could have products, materials transported eight different times wrapped in single use plastic five or six times to get there. And that's the stuff that's happening behind the scenes that consumers don't really know about that I'm trying to bring to the surface and make people aware, that there's this extra waste that's just kind of hidden.

Michelle:

Good to know. So, every company has a unique story on how they started and how they became successful. So, can you elaborate a little bit on what challenges you faced back when you started and how have these challenges really are today?

Tiffany:

I kind of already insinuated this, but after many months and countless formulas, and I can't even imagine how many hours now, if I look back, of creating and designing packaging and formula, that we had unlucky/lucky circumstance of launching April 2020, which originally was supposed to be March 2020. It was a Tuesday when we all heard that we were going to have lockdowns. So, the world really changed. And here we are two years later, and I'm probably more resilient and stronger for it. Had to learn more about digital marketing than I'd ever thought possible. And more about computer programs than I ever thought possible.

Tiffany:

But I also think the door was open at that point for people to feel like they could buy products online, understand brands that had messaging that really resonated with them, and kind of have that ability to give attention to something that was so important. And what was unique about that time as well, I'm sure instilled in everyone's memory, was just how much fear there was around what could happen and passing along this virus and how it was transmitted. So, single use plastics and material use of many different things went up tremendously. Really impacted everyone everywhere, and still does now.

Tiffany:

So, I would say that learning quickly and pivoting and still sticking to our core values, not really changing who we were, but really finding that community was so important. And even now, doing in person events, really makes the difference for our brand. We have amazing local retailers all across the US, Canada, Japan, and some other markets like Shanghai, and I can't even name all of them now. But being able to go and see them and talk to them and just see these other very passionate people sharing the same want to do better is just amazing. So, it started in one place and now that things are open and people are feeling very strong and being able to message one another and connect in person, it's now going in another direction, which is really nice. And just makes you appreciate even more the work that we put in and the thoughtfulness and how many people understand what we're trying to achieve in reducing packaging waste but still offering great product.

Kate:

So, it was about how we start, right?

Michelle:

Yes.

Kate:

Okay. So, I guess I had a villain origin story that starts with when I first found out I was pregnant with my son in 2014. I'm Middle Eastern and my older brother gave me this book. He already had four kids. And it was called Boys Adrift, and it was just about how to avoid 5 different factors that contribute to sons being non-productive. So it's a very Middle Eastern thing for my brother to give to me, like how to have a son that becomes a productive member of society. But I am a reader & so I read this book Boys Adrift and the author talks about video games and children no longer spending time outside and being over-prescribed. And the author also said that someone kind of tugged on his sleeve in a forum somewhere and started talking to him about plastics. And at first he shrugged her off. He was a doctor in Maryland, but he later started to deep dive into it a little bit and he discovered that there was a plastics factory in Maryland with run off into the waterways and it actually changed all of the fish in the Potomac River from male to female. 

Kate:

And he said that this was like, one of the contributing factors of these five that he maps out. And it just frightened me so much. It wasn't the point of the book. You know when there's a small scene in a movie and it scares you forever? It was like one of those moments where you kind of find out Santa Claus isn't real. You're like, "I can't believe that I've been drinking out of bottled water, doing all these things, and the whole time I have been blissfully ignorant of this!" When you get information like that, you go down the rabbit hole and you see what else you can find. And it is a dangerous rabbit hole to go down if you go down this plastics stuff.  This was 2014.  Almost a decade later, people are finally paying attention to plastic and phthalates.

Kate:

So, that's kind of where I started. And then I started a zero waste journey, if you could call it that, because you never really can be zero waste, to be honest. So, I started to reuse everything I could. But the thing I really can't sacrifice is... your hair is the curtains of the face. It's got to look good. And I tried every single bar that was on the market, and they were all kind of catering to the same, for lack of a better term, this very crunchy granola type person. Or when you're in marketing meetings, they just call them "tree huggers", right? But that's not what I think I am. I'm a regular person that just wants to reduce my plastic.

Kate:

So, yeah. My brand was completely built out of frustration because I've been in the beauty industry for a long time and I know that there's ingredients out there that perform, that work, and my single-focused problem is plastic. I didn't want an all natural brand that didn't work. I mean, the graveyard in my shower of just bad bar products was just... it was obscene, almost. At that point, I was projecting out to the world, because we all have social media, that I was reducing my plastic. But I was almost shamefully in my shower alone using the bottles. That's how it came about. I just launched at the very end of October. And now in just about 70 stores around the country. And it's catching on its own because I'm not alone in that frustration. And people want just something really that works that they can feel good about, without the scary finger waggling at them all the time.

Michelle:

Wow. I love that. Interesting journey. So on a side note, some companies are talking about this anti-clean beauty revolution, specifically targeting sulfates. And saying that sulfates are actually good for you. Okay? So what are your thoughts on any anti-clean movement, and is this message helping or hurting any progress you've made with both of your brands' mission?

Kate:

I don't necessarily have a problem with an anti-clean movement, because as I said before, I don't think you can cherry pick science and I think that there's chemists out there creating really cool stuff that works. And just because there was that crazy time when people were like, "If you can't read the back of the label, you shouldn't use it," and it's like, it's not my fault you can't read it. You know? 

Kate:

Most people I know are not in that extreme of clean, clean, clean. Most people I know are just trying to do their best. And they're okay with some science in their products. And it's just unfortunate that the loudest people that kind of show up the most on our feeds are the ones that are kind of taking a little piece of information and broadcasting it without a science background, basically.

Tiffany:

Sensationalizers. Yeah. I agree as well. There's a lot of technologies I think based off of petroleum derived materials that we need to figure out. I know that synthetic processes is a very wide range of broad brush stroke of different items. But as unsustainable as many petroleum items are, although we know it comes from the earth, which is a natural resource, it still categorizes synthetic. And you guys know better than probably us on a lot of these different processes, that that would be considered somewhat unclean. But to trace sourcing and to do all of these things, you would need to know proprietary manufacturing information that a lot of companies don't want to share. So, it's tricky. It's not as easy as it sounds, right? It must be or else we would have had it figured it out already.

Tiffany:

Yeah. I would say the brands that are doing specific education around non-clean or anti-clean, I also don't really have a problem with it. If you buy a certain way and it has to do with application and dosage, but it's a lot of education. Breaking cycle or a way of sort of marketing that's been very strong for a few decades now. So, most people just avoid so that they don't have to have that conversation whatsoever. And that is not what we probably would focus on it as a company, except to spread information for a product team lead.

Michelle:

Great. Thank you for that. The next question now is, if you had to choose, what top things would the bigger companies be doing? Are they missing the mark in so-called clean washing? Do they have responsibility to do more education? I know this is an open ended question. We've had a conversation about it in the past.

Tiffany:

Well, this is a big one to us. I think everyone knows here that when you make billions of dollars and have thousands of chemists on staff, and the best thing you can do is PCR, that's a problem.

Kate:

Yeah. The problem with big companies, and I don't know how many people here have worked for one, they're kind of either very slow moving, or it's always a scramble to get something done or get something to the next retail milestone and to do that as fast as possible and you're always behind. That's any company I've ever worked for ever. So, I think the problem is trying to rush human beings who want to be thoughtful and do better because I don't think everyone is out there trying to make stuff worse. It's trying to rush people and scramble them into these retail standards and timelines and to grow, grow, grow. And even to grow in a way, like grow shelf space for example, grow in a way that stops the thoughtfulness and stops innovation really... just because you're a sustainable brand doesn't mean you need to add a lip balm in a paper tube, you know?

Kate:

It's that kind of thing. But that's kind of how it works in a big company that just wants to increase that shelf space or SKU count. And it would be so much better if they just did a little bit less and focused on making goods a lot better. That's how I feel.

Tiffany:

I thought it was a poignant statement. I guess, so in general, green washing, the very definition of it, if you guys are not already familiar with this term, would be if you spend more of your marketing time and dollars convincing people of your very slight eco friendly ways versus the research and time development it would take to actually create eco friendly products, which now is kind of a green washing term as well. Because really, what it means is that it's only marketing one product out of maybe a line of thousands of products or thousands of brands underneath the umbrella. Refill is a great start. If you're still refilling plastic and 99% of your line of products is single use, what does that really mean? So, it's just a little bit of food for thought there on what brands might consider to do a little bit better and how to really truly look at looking at reducing their footprint.

Tiffany:

Don't produce a billion single use razors a year and then go plastic negative by pulling ocean bound, not-ocean bound plastic out of the ocean. Don't perhaps start manufacturing many units of product and then buying carbon credits or planting trees that never get planted. The list goes on and on. But that's the problem, right? It looks good on paper. It's a good, purposeful way of trying to do something. But it's just the bare minimum. So it's not raising the bar now like, what can we really do? And how do we look at companies and the resource that they have so that we can thoughtfully say whether or not they're trying to make true change or if they're just trying to make a little bit more money. Because another billion dollars sounds nice.

Michelle:

Thank you. Okay. So, let's continue this portion by asking, how can we help? What can we do as suppliers, manufacturers, to be truly sustainable?

Kate:

When a company or marketing client or whoever comes to you knocking on your door, I think the best thing you can do is, if they're coming with like a zero waste idea or sustainable idea, is really educate them on really how things are sourced, like how ingredients are sourced. But also challenge yourself to do it without plastic if you can. There's lots of ways to do it. Personally for my company, I found a bunch of dead stock plastic, so I have used repurposing stuff that old brands have left behind, so I don't have to make any more and I can give these bottles a second life.

Kate:

I know all over the country there's warehouses full of abandoned, just dead stock plastic packaging. If your formula can only exist in a component--whether it's plastic, aluminum or glass, understandably not wanting glass because glass has its own issues, there's a cool way to problem solve. And I just challenge everyone to think about that when you're making something new, basically. And if you can do it in a bar or waterless form, that's even better.

Tiffany:

I'm really happy to say we have some really great suppliers that are in this room and they're open to the conversation already, which is fantastic. There's circumstances. We talk about striving zero waste, which I'll say, zero waste is not really considered to be very difficult to at all achieve. But always looking at how to reduce, using recycling as your last resort, because we already know that that system is somewhat malfunctioning and I call it broken in a lot of my blogs. Our suppliers care. They get an email to receive that something what packed a certain way because it was reported that we don't want something and someone down the chain made a mistake, so they'll take it back and reuse it. I mean, that's really incredible.

Tiffany:

And then we always hope that by making these sorts of communications in a positive way, just saying this is happening, that maybe it doesn't even need to exist because honestly, do we even need bubble wrap if we have paper and corn starch peanuts? Do we need something that's going to sit on our planet for 400 years so that a tiny glass jar with some peptides in it makes it across the US? Probably not. So, that's what we do with our suppliers. And the ones that understand that don't laugh or have funny comments are the ones that get our business and the ones that we recommend to other people, and then it continues on. Yeah. I would just say listening to what someone needs and if it's actually physically possible to adjust, why not? It doesn't hurt anyone.

Michelle:

Great. Thank you for that. So, in this part of the talk, it's called the rapid fire portion. So what I'm going to do is take common names that we see on labels and you two ladies are going to put a thumbs up or a thumbs down, whether they think it's helping or harming the zero waste initiative. The first thing that you all see is "clean plus planet positive". What are your thoughts? Harmful or helpful?

Tiffany:

It's one of these, right? 

Kate:

We're going to say thumbs down.

Tiffany:

I'll say thumbs down.

Kate:

Mostly because it's more of a category of green washing. It's like taking what you already have on the shelf and saying, "Which one is the best of the worst?" You never really want to do that. You kind of want to actually pick the best of the best.

Tiffany:

Yeah. And also when I look at Sephora, it's all plastic anyways, so that's kind of the thing that gets me the most angry. It's not the stuff inside. It's really the stuff that it's all encased in. So it's hard to really be what I consider a cleaner, better earth, if you're just kind of churning out these things.

Michelle:

Thank you.

Tiffany:

Yeah. Well then, a thumbs down. 

Michelle:

The second one is RSPO. Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

Kate:

I'll say thumbs up.

Michelle:

Why?

Kate:

Well, it's tricky because there's all these reports of  regrowth not being responsibly grown, but also there's enough people keeping an eye on it and regulating it. But palm is one of those crops that takes much less land mass and it has a higher yield than its counterparts. Right? It's better than the substitutions--many of which are not regulated. So, we can keep an eye on those crops and make sure that that certification actually means something and it's not the same as the Seaspiracy situation of unregulated certs. But honestly, I put palm in my oil in my shampoo bar, and I know that that annoys a lot of people. I lose customers over it. But I don't care because I know that it needs less land--and that's very important to me because more land means more fertilizer, more labor, and less biodiversity. It's less room for just animals in general. I don't know. It's everything. It's so strange to me that people don't think of what the byproducts & externalities of those decisions are if they want to switch to another oil or any of those things. Yeah. Thumbs up.

Tiffany:

Yeah. We ask all the time about certifications and things like RSPO, I know it's not a perfect system. I know that deforestation is real in these areas of the world where you might not be able to trace everything 100% from dot to dot, but it's all that we really have. I think the big question here is the huge consumer of the product in the food industry. So it's tough because we do our best and we try to have these certifications and use a product that is sustainably sourced, but at the end of the day, a lot of where the volume is, where the problems really arise are from an industry that uses it the most, which would be food. So, I would say I believe in it and I also believe in it for the reasons that Kate has mentioned about best resource use and water and land. But it's one of those certifications that makes more sense than some of the ones that we're probably going to talk about soon.

Michelle:

Vegan. Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

Tiffany:

Can I say first?

Kate:

Yeah, go for it.

Tiffany:

This is a hard one because I do think reducing eating animal products generally is better for the environment. But the studies that are cited that talk about veganism reducing your overall carbon footprint by 73% didn't look at everything. So, we're looking that numbers and studies that are a bit older and don't talk about how when you work with plant based products, how they're mostly packaged in plastic. And we are actually not doing a life cycle analysis on products past when they're made and the resource consumption on the front end and the back end are just like, "Oh, now it goes away." It's lighter to ship and it doesn't matter if it lives on this planet for hundreds if not thousands of years. So, I actually believe more in conscious consuming, which is that you have to reduce some things. There are unsustainable farming practices. There are a lot of things wrong with the meat industry.

Tiffany:

I just saw an article that said that Tyson was going to be a zero waste farmer this year. I think there's just all of these different things that are happening that just don't seem real. So I just think doing better and understanding that the level in which we're butchering and eating animals is so high and the quantity that we have here in the US especially is so high and it's mostly because we're doing it in a way where we're pumping them full of hormones and nutrients that they wouldn't normally ever have. I don't know. I've worked at DSM, so we saw a lot of nutrition and health studies about how we can quickly expand the size of a chicken from 14 days to six days. And that's what we're eating. Oh my God.

Kate:

I think I'm going to switch from the chicken :)

Michelle:

Good to know.

Kate:

Yeah. Honestly, the vegan label, for me, when it comes to cosmetics, doesn't mean a lot. And I am working on a boar bristled brush in my line, so it's not going to be vegan at all. And the reason I am ok with that is because we're using byproduct from another industry that uses the rest of the animal, so I like to think that that is helpful. Because I don't think we can challenge the world to go vegan, and especially in areas of the world who do not have that luxury to suddenly switch diets. And I'm certainly not vegan and I can't lead by example there. Yeah. As far as cosmetics, the vegan label just kind of hides other stuff. It's just a cloaking thing to me to make your product sound plant based and wholesome even if it's not.

Michelle:

So is it thumbs up or down?

Tiffany:

Yeah. I'll give it a side thumb. Yeah. It's not a well defined way saying I'm sustainable. Basically, don't lord over all your friends that you're given and you're the best. 

Kate:

It's a very exciting label to see for someone who is very, very passionate about veganism.

Tiffany:

Yeah. 

Michelle:

Okay. Organic on a label, helpful or harmful?

Tiffany:

It's helpful if you have a lot of money to do it.

Kate:

Yeah. Just the label doesn't control whether something in my formula or my product says organic or not. So I think that because it's an expensive label to get, I just ignore a lot of the labels. I don't have a leaping bunny on my products mostly because I don't want to pay for it. People don't seem to care. So for me, I think "organic" is a barrier to entry for people that want to make change and enter the market. So I'll give it a thumbs down.

Tiffany:

I would say thumbs down. Some of our ingredients are actually sustainably harvested, like the new product from family co-ops that, admittedly, will make statements that say, "this farm uses no herbicides and pesticides." But to get the USDA label, and this is the writing which I thought was really interesting, you have to have the agricultural ministry to come out. It's just a whole big thing. So, I don't think it's the end all, be all. I think it's a great thing to have if your products are easy to find and don't have any other areas in the world that might be farming it and manufacturing it. Thumbs down. Sorry to say.

Michelle:

Okay, last one. Sulfate free.

Kate:

Yeah. I'll take. I don't mind sulfates. Sulfates can come hang with me, I don't take issue with them. But I do have to make products that people will buy and the market is conditioned to buy sulfate free. So, that is my stance on sulfates. It doesn't hurt or help at all. Unless someone else has something to say. Do you?

Tiffany:

Yeah. I think it's just, people are trained not to like it now.

Kate:

Yeah. The market has been a training people to not like sulfates and what I've talked about before is like, a little bit of information kind of snowballs into something else. And now we have a whole industry that doesn't want sulfates. And I guess they're rolling back in.

Tiffany:

Yeah.

Michelle:

Okay. All right. Well, thank you both for your time. I'm going to open it up to any questions from the audience members. Does anyone have any questions for... of course you do. The first one.

Speaker 5:

Right here. Talking about packaging and talking about plastic and you're saying against plastic, sustainability, you can kind of see it as a spider diagram that's got lots of points on there. One is biodegradability but also energy use, also land use. What spider diagram of packaging from your products? What role does this play about the options?

Tiffany:

For packaging?

 

Tiffany:

Is this for either of us to answer?

Speaker 5:

For either of you.

Tiffany:

Okay. Do you want to start?

Kate:

I am a big fan of just refilling the components you have to minimize energy use and raw materials use. I think for my own personal choice, I do a lot of refilling. And for items that I do not put on my body, like hand soap, laundry detergent, all those things. And a lot of the things that I don't... because what's tricky with refilling in beauty is that you want it to be as sterile as possible. I don't want someone who tampered with it and I don't want product exposed to air, all those things. Waterless would be the best because it's the best to ship. But other than that, I hope that the refill revolution moves forward a little bit. And for me anyway, I think a lot of "plastic negative" stuff and the buying back carbon marketing is just kind of a way to disguise the real issues. So that's my suggestion--embrace refills so packaging & energy isn't an issue.

Tiffany:

We looked at actually quite a few things. Waterless, we knew, was going to be a large part of our company toward the formulating. The packaging was actually quite complicated for skincare. We don't use waxes or butters. Our formula is patent pending right now. So we had to develop something completely different. Our, I guess, lines that we looked at was weight in shipping, resource consumption, being plastic free because of the materials that came in plastic are priced at petroleum rates. And then we believe in composting. So we don't see biodegradability as a category, but mostly not tampering with the nutrient content of soil, since we don't want something braking down into micro plastics.

Tiffany:

So, after all of that, we basically ruled out glass. It was too heavy and it was too intensive in resource to make in the beginning. And it was breakable. And we kind of went down the road of lightweight FSP coated paper that would be for shipping. And then metal containers that were made with different recyclable alleyways for our bar, and then now our powder. But that's kind of what we looked at. So it was a very thoughtful kind of way of trying to put it together instead of falling back on just what was stock packaging, which can be  vegan, so we just custom made everything that we had and just made sure that it would be fillable, but if for some reason would ever break, that item would be able to actually put into recycling stream. And composted. 

Michelle:

We have another question.

Tiffany:

Last questions

Speaker 6:

Oh. It's actually just for you.

Tiffany:

Oh, for me? Okay.

Speaker 6:

Yes, it is. No, it's for both of you. So, we talked about your ingredients that are sustainable, right? Are they all up cycled stream ingredients? Do you have traceability of those ingredients? They have to say there are up cycled?

Tiffany:

We don't actually talk too much about up cycling. At least for my brand, that's not what we're about. We think that up cycling is actually a great way to reuse food waste and other products that might be byproducts. But we also know right now, it's not really realistic with what's available in the marketplace. I do know a couple companies that do it, like UpCircle, where they'll pick and trace their ingredients. But I will say that we have worked with many suppliers that, once we sign NDAs, we get to see a lot of information. Everything from manufacturing to catalysts to talking directly with the scientists that synthesize molecules. So at least for me, I feel very blessed in that I knew enough about that world that I could do that with the people that became our suppliers.

Tiffany:

I don't think it's that way for everybody, but that's why I can sit up here and say that I literally believe our product choices are very sustainable. We reduce the carbon footprint of a normal serum product by more than 95%, being our technology waterless and the packaging being refillable. Which I know a lot of people can't do. But that's what I have seen in our analysis of the product. And maybe some day if up cycled ingredients are more available, we would actually consider switching some of the technologies to things like that, if they were available.

Speaker 6:

So, are your products made with sustainable, or your products aren't sustainable?

Tiffany:

No. The claims that we make is that the company is built on sustainability pillars and that we have an ethos that we run the company by that is mostly striving zero waste, plastic free, and we look at every piece of every ingredient and material that comes in and how we put it together to make a sustainable brand. That's the claim.

Speaker 6:

So, are you following the UN guidelines for sustainability or you have your own metric?

Tiffany:

Well, do you want to tell me what clear metrics are and I can let you know?

Speaker 6:

Those are 17 different pillars about sustainability-

Tiffany:

And what are they, the 17 pillars?

Speaker 6:

You should know.

Tiffany:

You're asking me the question, so I'm asking you the question--do you not know what they are either.

Speaker 6:

[inaudible 00:49:20].

Tiffany:

Okay. [crosstalk 00:49:20].

Michelle:

I think we should wrap up the Q&A.

Tiffany:

We can talk later.

Michelle:

And that's it. I'm going to close this out. Thank you for your time and perspectives Tiffany and Kate. We talk about diversity and inclusivity. and it's an honor to have you here, who happen to be women and both minorities, Tiffany being part-Taiwanese and Kate being half-Persian. And I think that makes them even more incredible than they already are. That does not define accomplished individuals in and of itself, but their stories and e verything they strive for is indicative of their journey and we are inspired by the path that they're on.

 

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