The global skincare market was worth nearly $135 billion in 2018. Over 20% of consumers bought organic products, and 88% reported that they would be more loyal to socially responsible brands. Unfortunately, some common skincare ingredients – such as the oxybenzones contained in many sunscreen products (now banned in Hawaii), as well as parabens and microplastics – can be harmful to the environment. Here are four female-founded and led companies working to make skincare more holistic, organic and sustainable.
1. FarmHouse Fresh
In addition to running FarmHouse Fresh, Shannon McLinden also grows the product ingredients on her … [+]
Margaret Wolf Studio
Shannon McLinden is the founder and president of the organic, natural skincare brand FarmHouse Fresh. Not only does she run a successful business that has grown rapidly for the past 15 years, but she also manages the ranch where her products are sourced from in McKinney, Texas. (In addition, she dedicates a percentage of profits to the animal sanctuary that she runs there.) Juggling these careers provides many challenges, but McLinden is determined to champion sustainability in the beauty industry.
FarmHouse Fresh focuses on using sustainable farming methods (hydroponic, aquaponic and organic) to grow microgreens, herbs and vegetables that get extracted quickly to become ingredients in the company’s nearly 200 products. They follow a novel zero-waste process that ensures vitamins are at their peak by harvesting and creating extracts the very same day. All the pulpy leftover rinds are fed to the farm’s chickens.
As a teenager, McLinden suffered from low self-esteem. She felt driven to help people look their best by crafting effective skincare products. Her life purpose came together when her very first product was selected for Oprah’s O List. “I grew up watching Oprah. She has been like a long-distance mentor. So, when she gave her stamp of approval to my craft, it was adding kerosene to a dream,” McLinden says. She also attributes the success of FarmHouse Fresh to her cofounder and sister-in-law, Delia McLinden.
Finally, building company headquarters on a ranch and farm animal sanctuary has “brought a whole other level of contentment to me and my team,” McLinden says. Naturally, they face challenging moments running their business. But having a purpose of creating earth-friendly products and saving neglected animals “keeps us all positive, optimistic, happy, healthy and enjoying our life’s work.”
Anyone who feels called to launch a sustainable brand should enjoy the challenges of lightning fast-paced days, meticulous planning and attention to detail, and continuous invention, McLinden states. “Think about partnering with another company or organization. Two entities working together often have a wider, louder voice, and both your companies may benefit from the collaboration. Also, don’t get discouraged. More companies contributing to a sustainable outcome improves life for all of us.”
Regardless of whether beauty or sustainability is your calling or not, McLinden urges you to find your purpose. “There is a role out there, in an everyday hobby or passion of yours, that you can thrive in,” she says. “As long as you begin with a passion, you can then determine if you like selling it or designing it, explaining it or teaching it, caretaking it or managing it, owning it or assisting in building it.”
Christn Powell and Alison Haljun are the founders of Kinship.
Alison Haljun and Christn Powell are the cofounders of Kinship, a new clean, sustainably-packaged skincare line. Powell already has been working in the space for 20 years, and felt it was time to develop something truly sustainable that aligns with today’s values of diversity, inclusivity, and wellness combined with conscious formulas and packaging. “We need to act versus just talk about what we’re going to do in the future,” says Powell. “My purpose is to help elevate people – mind, body and spirit.”
As a parent of a Gen Zer, Haljun felt an obligation to use her expertise to have a positive impact and create change in an industry that isn’t listening. “My life purpose is to choose optimism, lead with kindness and bring joy to others,” she says. “Kinship is about self-care. It’s not trying to fix you, but rather to support you.”
Both Powell and Haljun have had to sacrifice time, money, and availability to their family members in order to make their dreams come true. In addition, they’ve found it challenging to find strong, sustainable partners to work with who align with Kinship’s mission. Luckily, they came across a company in Copenhagen that works with fishermen to collect plastic, which is killing our sea life and threatening our climate, from the world’s ocean. This ocean waste plastic (OWP) gets converted into pellets which Kinship uses to make its jars. Already this year, Kinship has eliminated 1.5 tons of plastic from our oceans.
“It’s just a start. We know there’s a lot more to do,” say the founders. “But it was critical to us that Kinship have a tangible impact on the planet and our global climate crisis.” Kinship also uses only clean ingredients and works to reduce unnecessary waste in its shipping materials. All packaging materials are FSC-certified, post-consumer recycled cardboard and paper – no bubble wrap or plastic tape. All materials are recyclable.
To aspiring entrepreneurs, Powell says, “Successful people put their own wellness first. If you can figure out how to nourish yourself in mind, body and spirit along the journey, it will be not only be more enjoyable but you can help others fill their cup. Also, put these words up on your mirror: Keep going. They help tremendously on days when your doubts creep in or things feel too hard to overcome. Starting a business is like a marathon, and you need faith to push you through the valleys so you can get to the peaks.”
Haljun says, “You have to put yourself out there. Do those things that make you uncomfortable. Don’t get discouraged when you fail or when you strike out. Embrace it and keep going. Believe in yourself.” She also counsels aspiring entrepreneurs to have a support system in place before launching a business. People who can give you extra encouragement or a pep talk when times are tough.
3. Lulu’s Holistics
Mother-daughter team Deannee Santiago and Jahnet Frederick launched LuLu’s Holistics to create … [+]
Deannee Santiago and Jahnet Frederick are a mother-daughter duo who have generated over a million dollars in sales since launching their skincare line, Lulu’s Holistics, two years ago. A vegan and believer in the power of holistic healing, Frederick enjoyed making shea butter products in her living room. After watching this for years, Santiago decided to turn her mother’s talent into a business. With two younger sisters who are autistic, Santiago also felt driven to increase awareness of autism. She therefore dedicates a percentage of profits to sponsoring a school that works with autistic children in the Caribbean.
Lulu’s Holistics crafts each product from scratch and by hand, out of safe, organic ingredients with no additives or chemicals. Since the launch in 2017, two stores have opened, one in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and one in the Bronx. Santiago typically works 10-hour days six days a week overseeing production at the New York warehouse and visiting the various locations, as well as promoting the brand on social media. Her mother has taken online business courses in order to support the growth of the company.
“It is great to work with family,” Santiago says. “The harder I work, the more rewards I can see for me and my family. Also, being a black woman who is in control of her own destiny gives me pride. I’m all about positive vibes, meditating and manifesting. Lulu’s Holistics reflects that. We are all about healing ourselves and the earth through natural, chemical-free products.”
Time management, meeting deadlines, customer service, motivating employees, and dealing with disgruntled employees all prove challenging at times. But Santiago remains optimistic. “Everything I’ve ever wanted, I see it, feel it and believe it. Nothing can stop me. If you really want something, do it. If you’re very passionate, you’ll make it happen.”
4. Shea Terra Organics
Tammie Umbel is the founder and head of Shea Terra Organics, and as well a mother of 14 children.
Shea Terra Organics
Tammie Umbel is a mother of 14 who home schools her children. She is also the founder of Shea Terra Organics, a multi-million dollar natural skincare business that she started in 2000 with just $1,500.
A naturalist and environmentalist at heart with a background in politics and international peacekeeping, Umbel started off marketing many of the exotic natural products from developing countries that she herself enjoyed, particularly shea butter. Realizing the potential this single butter had to impact millions of people across the globe, she embarked upon her quest to help communities throughout Africa market their indigenous ingredients by creating the Shea Terra Organics line. Today, Umbel continues to work closely with habitat conservation groups and traditional herbalists to discover botanicals indigenously valued for their healing powers. She runs her business from her organic farm in Virginia, where she lives with her husband and children.
Umbel first became interested both in crafting traditional herbs and ingredients into skincare products and social activism at a young age. She was very concerned about the destruction of wildlife habitats, and vowed to help eradicate the suffering. As she grew older, she realized that she could share the skincare rituals of indigenous peoples with the modern world and help native people as well as animals by creating organic, natural beauty products.
Her greatest challenge is balancing her priorities as a mother, teacher, and business owner. But, Umbel says, “I love what I am doing so much. I wake up early and sometimes even during the middle of the night to attend to Shea Terra as though it were an infant.”
To other people looking to tap into their life purpose, Umbel offers this advice. “First and foremost, you have to believe in yourself. You cannot expect others to believe in you. We often fall into the trap of believing that accomplished people are successful because they are somehow better than everyone else, perhaps more talented or smarter. What we often fail to realize is that their success is most likely the result of hard work and motivation, and this can only be achieved when they first believe in themselves.”