You asked Patty Kerr, founder of Nurture My Body, all your questions about her products and green personal care. So read her answers and for the next few days, feel free to follow up with any comments or questions as Patty will be checking in to respond to all your posts.
Q: Entrepreneurs often have interesting stories about how/why they decided to stick their necks out and start something from nothing...what's Nurture My Body's story?
A: I always have known that events happen in our life are for a reason. My story is about working as a hairstylist and esthetician for many years and becoming chemical-sensitive from overexposure of all the chemicals used in salons. What was a life crisis became a blessing. It caused me to rethink my life and health. I changed the way I lived and worked to a healthier and more balanced approach. I studied holistic health and incorporated that in my salon by using only the safest of products. When I wanted better results from the products I realized it was up to me to make it happen. So I created my line, Nurture My Body. I am in love with the process. I feel so blessed to be able to create products that I know are contributing to the health and wellbeing of others as well as honoring our environment. There is nothing like living your bliss. Creating something out of nothing just takes following your heart. I am happy I have found my purpose.
Q: I noticed that you are a signer of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. What exactly does that mean?
A: Thank you for asking the question! I have signed a contract that requires me to promise that within the next 3 years all toxic ingredients will be out of my products. That was an easy one for me as my products never contained any! But I would like to outline for you the requirements so you can see what other companies must comply with:
1. To be compliant with the formulation of the EU Cosmetic Directive. This means removing the 1,100 toxic ingredients from their products that were banned from personal care products by the EU.
2. List all ingredients using the standard based on INCI listings. (I am working on that now). An example is this: “Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Essential Oil” instead of “Chamomile Essential Oil”.
3. Enter all ingredients and products into the Skin Deep database. Here is the link: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com
4. Substitute harmful ingredients and impurities for the safety of the consumer.
5. Develop a substitution plan.
6. Let consumers know which ingredients are used in their products by listing all of them on their websites and on the bottles.
Q: What green criteria do your products meet?
A: Well, nowadays that’s a loaded question. There are so many “green criterion” ~ either official with certificates, or you can get badges about being green by filling out questionnaires from companies. Some you pay for and then they allow you to post their badge on your Website and products. So to clarify, I belong to Coop America who has stringent qualifications on company practices and who they allow to be a part of their organization. These are the practices that our company uses that have allowed us to be a part of this organization: We use packing materials that are either biodegradable or contain recycled content. We also reuse shipping materials or recycle them. Our office supplies are made from recycled materials and we recycle all of our goods. Our office is run off of our own Solar Energy and when the sun doesn’t shine enough and we have to use electricity we buy Green energy from Puget Power. We use glass and #1 PETE plastic bottles and we are in the process of sourcing out recycled glass and replacing all of our plastic with that or aluminum bottles. We do not animal test. For our Gift Baskets and Sample Sets we use fair trade baskets and bags. Our products themselves contain Certified Organic Ingredients, Organic Ingredients, Wildcrafted Ingredients and a few naturally derived. We use no chemicals in our products. They are plant, herb and floral based. How cool is all of that?
Q: How do you choose which organic ingredients to use, and which conventional ingredients to use? In the Huddle, lately we've had some talk on the economics of going green and the cost of organics. Do you find that the organic ingredients that go into your products are more expensive than conventional ingredients?
(combined question) by nitedreamer and Deej
A: I love the fact that you all have discussed this. An informed consumer is the best. It is so exciting that everyone wants to take responsibility for their choices. And knowledge is the best way I have found to see through the hype and mistruths. It costs much more to buy Organic Ingredients. I first source out Certified Organic, then Organic then Wildcrafted. Certified Organic is the most expensive followed by Organic. An example is: I can buy 1 pound of Calendula for $7.50. To buy 1 pound of Certified Organic Calendula would cost around $40.00. I only use a few naturally derived ingredients in my products. That is when the natural alternatives do not meet my standard for performance and I am able to find a safe alternative. An example would be my surfactants. Natural surfactants such as castile soap leave a waxy residue on the hair shaft. I do not like that, so I use a surfactant that is derived from cornstarch, glucose and natural fatty acids.
Q: When choosing ingredients for your products, is it important to you to get local ingredients as well as organic ones?
A: Absolutely!!! I love to support local farmers. I get my hydrosols and lavender from local farmers in Washington and Oregon. As our company grows we will have more buying power and will be able to procure more ingredients from the larger farms that have high minimums. Because of the demand from our customers I do not use local ingredients that are not organic.
Q: [Indonesia and Malaysia are responsible for production of 83% of the world’s palm oil (UNEP); however, in those countries, there is a significant amount of deforestation caused by the transition of land to palm oil plantations.] Why do you use palm oil in some of your products?
A: Well to be honest I am not aware of this issue and I am glad you have brought it to my attention. There is so much to keep up on and I thought I was doing such a good job. I love it when someone kicks me in the bottom and points me in a direction that I need to stretch myself some more. We use the palm oils in our soaps and get it from a very picky distributor. I will definitely check into this and make the best choices once I go over the data for myself. Ah, Sunday reading.
Q: Beyond the ingredients that you use in your products, what makes Nurture My Body stand out from the crowd? What are other elements of your company that make you leaders in environmental stewardship?
A: We’re nice…No really, we live what we create. We live on a 5-acre farm that is self-sustainable. We grow most of our foods in our beautiful gardens; we have an orchard, herb gardens, chickens, goats and rabbits. We also have untouched woods on our property. We love and respect nature so it is not a philosophy for us, it is our truth. Our desire is to be a Steward with the earth and give back by living in harmony with her. That way of life affects the way we run our business. We don’t own an Organic Personal Care company and run home to our city apartment and live in a concrete based life separate from nature. We immerse ourselves in the ingredients we use and learn to understand their principles by even growing them ourselves. I have come to understand that our thoughts matter. Another thing that sets us apart is that each day we start out by being contemplative. We bless each of our products and our customers knowing that the frequency of thoughts can affect matter as proven by quantum physics. Each of our products comes with a beautiful inspirational saying. We do so knowing that when the recipient reads it, it will remind them of their greatness and help in the overall effectiveness and healing of the product and the person.
Q: I'm curious to hear about what business challenges you've faced that you do think you would have faced if the business weren't green. Do you think it has gotten any easier to start a green business today vs. when you started?
A: Quite frankly I can’t think of any challenges I would rather take on then the ability to make a difference in the future of our planet and other people’s lives. Being a business owner most of my life there has always been challenges because it is up to you to make the choices and stand behind them. It is up to you to hold the dream no matter what your external circumstances dictate so you don’t give up. Being an owner of a green business requires a lot of research! You have to be a closet chemist to keep abreast of all of the new data that comes out daily. You have to be wise to know the difference between hype and truth. You have to have a long-term vision to make sure the choices you make now will make you proud 100 years from now. Lastly I think being a green business owner now is a lot easier then it was ten years ago. It is more acceptable. Even our kids think we are cool now when they used to roll their eyes at us because our lifestyle used to make them different from their friends. Now they are proud to say their parents own an eco-friendly business. That brings great joy and hope to our hearts.
Q: Why did you choose to start an internet business instead of a "real world" shop?
A: Our reason for creating an online Boutique rather than a brick-and-mortar Storefront is simply due to the power of the Internet. We knew our products are among the safest in the world and we wanted to provide a healthy choice to more than our local community. There is something quite satisfying in knowing that our dream can contribute to the health and wellbeing of everyone anywhere in the world. The emails we receive from our customers in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Turkey, Israel, England, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Greece, Canada, Mexico and Spain have touched us in a way that no money could buy. This is what makes it so worth it for us! Besides that, it is very hard to leave our paradise here on our farm.
Q: How do you feel about companies like Clorox coming in and selling "Green" lines of products? Or in the other direction, Burt’s Bees being acquired by a much larger company. Is it important for green companies to go mainstream or do mass market pressures make it impossible to stay true to your roots?
A: Good question. I have never been one to hypothesize or generalize things but my feeling is it is a double-edged sword that I am taking a wait-and-see attitude about. If these larger corporations will ethically and honestly operate their companies to better the environment, then kudos for them. If it helps humanity and the earth in the long run, then great. If they fall prey to the temptation of taking shortcuts, hiding their chemicals they use, then once again it will cause confusion among consumers. I never think it has anything to do with the external temptations of the environment that cause a person or company to stray but the leader or individual themselves struggling with their own inner demons. Greed and notoriety has been a tough test for any human to tackle. I believe the meek, and the companies with the leaders that are grounded with their roots deep into the earth, no matter how big or small they are, will ultimately make the nobler choices. That’s what I am counting on.
Edited by stins - Mon, 23 Jun 2008 23:00:31 GMT
Edited by stins - Mon, 23 Jun 2008 23:08:14 GMT