“Life is no brief candle, but a splendid torch” is a quote from George Bernard Shaw and I believe it captures the mind and spirit of many ‘Passioneers” in the beauty, health and wellness community. Their passion is infectious and larger than life but it’s their ideal values fueling their passion that is so relevant to us personally and culturally. Tapping into our collective altruism, Passioneers illuminate our interconnectedness to each other and the earth. At ‘Ideal Finds’ I chat with founders of companies in wellness culture who are driven by their ideal values and commit to those values in everything they do in their business. Their key motivation was not to become rich (although they may have) but to share their passion and values with others. When you get to know these Passioneers more intimately you discover just how altruistic they are and how deeply they care about the positive impact their businesses have on the world.
Today I honor two pioneers and ‘Passioneers of Beauty’ who lived to inspire us and improve our world through their educational beauty concepts. Aveda and The Body Shop are world ‘wise’ brands and have since been bought by behemoth corporations, but not before they changed the culture of beauty with their passionate values and socially conscious business practices. It is sad these two founders are no longer with us, but their values and philosophy live on in today’s ‘Passioneers of Beauty’ who carry the torch and continue to advance wellness culture with their new socially conscious ventures. My post is dedicated to all the ‘Passioneers of Beauty’ past and present ( see below for new companies to follow) who don’t just ‘beautify’ us, but also attempt to educate and enlighten us, so we can live more safely, collaboratively and harmoniously with each other and the planet. Because life is too short for business as usual…
On February 15, 2014 Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72. Horst was a sustainable beauty industry pioneer and environmental activist but for me in essence he was a true “Passioneer”. His passion was for ‘plants’ and he credits his mother who was a herbalist for his great interest in the healing power of plants. This would not be so remarkable if he was a biologist or scientist, except Horst was a hairdresser. What happens when you have a hairdresser with a passion for plants? You get a shampoo line called ‘Aveda’ that would revolutionize not only the beauty business but the culture of beauty and many other industries too.
Horst Rechelbacher, a student of nature, became a successful entrepreneur and signed all his correspondence “Yours in service for a green, healthy and non-violent planet”. Bringing ‘wellness culture’ to the main stream consumer through the experience of natural aromatherapy, he believed his ‘ideal values’ could carry the message of shared purpose and standards. He is one of the three original founders of Business for Social Responsibility, which focused its mission on business and the sustainability of all living species. In 2004, he became a founding member of the Organic Center, a non-profit dedicated to organic education, research and promotion and also received the Rachel Carson Award for a Lifetime Commitment to Environmental Ethics & Integrity. His passion became a beautiful mission we would all benefit from.
Passion for plant-based beauty products paired with his vision for creating safer and healthier products for consumers led him further into a life long search for greater traditional wisdom and plant study, which spawned another company he created called ‘Intelligent Nutrients’. Constantly growing and evolving he now was focused on certified organic products using food-grade ingredients and plant stem-cell science for his new line. He left his company to his longtime partner Kiran Stordalen and daughter Nicole Thomas. Under their leadership the company will continue to advance his life’s work and mission. They now carry the torch and Horst’s passions, values, and mission live on…
There is no better way to capture the essence of a Passioneer than quoting the founder of The Body Shop “My vision, my hope, is simply this: that many business leaders will come to see a primary role of business as incubators of the human spirit, rather than factories for the production of more material goods and services.” Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop died on September 10, 2007 of a brain aneurysm but her ‘splendid torch’ lives on with her company and many other beauty companies who followed her lead. In today’s business world she would cheerfully be called a “disruptor’, but when she introduced The Body Shop to the world back in the early 1990′s her business was “UNusual and she was considered the most outspoken and controversial business woman of her time. She changed the culture of the beauty business and also brought global Human Rights issues to the world stage.
Being not only a woman, but a woman with a very big mission she rattled the cages of capitalism and challenged the global business markets to reevaluate their business practices by educating the consumer on the abuses of human rights occurring world-wide in business industry. In 1976 Anita had nothing more than an enterprising spirit when she opened her first Body Shop store in Brighton, UK , but it was her passion fueled by her values that made her the most successful business woman in the world and put social capitalism in ‘vogue’ around the world. She was a true World Wise Beauty ‘comfortable in her own skin’ and she passionately put social ethics back into the business culture.
” We need a redefinition of beauty from the beauty business–an endorsement of character and diversity rather than the promotion of a physical ideal. I think it is much more appropriate to take a holistic view, to look at the whole, body and soul, spirit and character”. Well if she didn’t rattle the cages, who else could! On the back jacket of her book ‘Business As Unusual”, the USA Today newspaper said ‘The Body Shop isn’t just a shop, it’s an arena of education’. This powerful quote gets to the heart of Anita’s mission. Information and education is power and she began to teach consumers how to assess what ingredients were in beauty products, where they came from and how they were produced in the manufacturing process. The beauty consumer would never be the same and there would be many more beauty companies capitalizing on her business concept by claiming ‘natural and exotic ingredients’. The Body Shop was sold to the beauty giant L’Oreal because if you can’t beat them –buy them! As it turned out, transparency and social consciousness SELLS and the bottom line is what corporations really care about. Profits with principles was the back bone of Anita’s company but it was her personal passion for education and fair business ethics that drove her business to global success. This ‘Passioneer’ changed the beauty industry and culture forever…
Passioneers are independent spirits who have a highly developed sense of ‘mission’. They of course want to please you but their main goal is often a much larger call to action which transcends both their personal needs and any quarterly revenue report you put in front of them. In spiritual terms they are a ‘vessel’ for the message they are called to share and this is so evident when you meet Joshua Onysko, Founder of Pangea Organics. I chatted with Joshua recently for my Ideal Finds department at World Wise Beauty and asked him “How do you maintain your business virtues as your company continues to grow worldwide”? His response was this “My values were not created by a marketing team, they are in fact actually who I am and what I care about, so that makes it easy. Truth + Love + Transparency”. You can hear the whispers of Anita and Horst in the soul of this young, creative, enterprising and most importantly ‘mission oriented’ Passioneer.
Pangea Organics is dedicated to creating a more, new sustainable future one bottle, jar and bar at a time. ‘What’s good for you is good for everybody’. Their conscious business practice includes everything from fair trade sourcing and organic farming to living wages and the use of renewable, recycled and recyclable resources. Watch out Avon and Mary Kay because Joshua is changing his traditional retail business model to a ‘social selling model’ where you can become a ‘Beauty Ecologist’ for Pangea and have your very own at home business selling Pangea. He launched in April 2013 and already has over 1000 Beauty Ecologists in 48 states and it is the largest division in the Pangea business. Joshua is a living breathing ‘Passioneer of Beauty’ and he proves that we all have the ability to change the world and to create change, we just have to make that choice…
If you loved Aveda when Horst was running his company, you will really love Innersense Organic Beauty. Here is a Passioneer ‘team’ (Greg and Joanne Starkman) who are following their own innersense of ‘truth & purity’ and strive to be the ‘cleanest’ haircare line out there. For this committed team there is no ‘fudging’ when it comes to reporting their product ingredients to you.
Greg shared his values in my recent Ideal Finds Q&A “We respect our consumer and know they want clear concise information. We strive to provide that. The words Natural and Organic mean little when toxic or synthetic ingredients are present in products. Numerous companies work hard at hiding or word-smithing their ingredient information to confuse consumers. We tell consumers that they need to be their own advocates”. Passion doesn’t always have to be ‘bold and loud’ but it is an inner burning desire that dictates almost everything you do. For the Starkmans it is all about ‘Beauty Without Compromise’ and their ‘certifications’ keep them in sync with their business ethics and values.
Prizing ingredient transparency and consumer education, Innersense Organic Beauty is proud to be a Certified Green Company and Compact Signor of both Safe Cosmetics & Truth in Labeling Acts, Member of the Organic Trade Association and CCIC Certified Committed to social and environmental sustainability. A study by the Environmental Working Group shows that women use an average of nine personal care products each day, exposing themselves to 126 unique chemical and potentially dangerous ingredients. And 25% of women use 15 or more products daily! You now can appreciate companies like Innersense Organic Beauty who take product formulation and your well-being very seriously. Most consumers are unaware the cosmetic industry is un-regulated by the FDA or EPA. The organizations noted above hold companies like Innersense accountable and serve as a consumer resource. But the beautiful thing here is our ‘Passioneers of Beauty’, Greg and Joanne Starkman, want to be held accountable. And for this lovely team, being authentic and transparent IS business as usual…
BRAVO to all of the ‘Passioneers of Beauty’! World Wise Beauty is supporting you 100%! I hope all my readers take time to know these companies because I promise you will feel ‘comfortable in your own skin’!