Yesterday, I covered my top six favorite Beautycounter products. I could have easily made a top-ten list; they are that good. Beautycounter is also a totally transparent Green Beauty company; no secret ingredients, no suspicious origins. I really love their “Never List”. Print it out and carry it in your wallet so you never have to borderline pee your pants analyzing ingredient lists in the beauty aisle at Whole Foods again (or was that just me).
Today, I am so excited to share with you a series of Q&A’s with Gregg Renfrew, Founder and CEO, Christy Coleman, Head of Creative Design, and Mia Davis, Head of Health and Safety at Beautycounter. BC’s website is incredibly informative (take ten minutes to check it out – you will leave more knowledgeable and empowered), but I wanted to dig a little deeper. The ladies delivered!
Gregg Renfrew, Founder & CEO
BB: Tell us a lesson you learned in your early days as an entrepreneur that you’ve never forgotten and applied to each of your business ventures.
GR: Taking your ego and emotion out of it and doing what is in the best interest of the business. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of not acknowledging where they are strong and where they are weak. That lack of awareness can become a major professional hurdle – don’t be afraid to ask for help. As you mature and become more self-aware, you identify the areas in which you need support and you build your team accordingly.
Ideas are great but execution is everything, so the team you build is critical for your success. Trust your gut, know your strengths, follow your instinct and stick to your guns.
BB: Your entire entrepreneurial career has revolved around businesses that target and empower women as the consumer. Now, with Beautycounter, you are empowering women as the professional. How do you try to do this on a day-to-day basis with your staff at BCHQ as well as with your national consultant team?
GR: What is important is your passion for your vision of the company. You need to have passion but you also have to understand people and have a strong sense for business. At the end of the day business is built around people – you have to be passionate about the people and about what you’re building.
BB: You have two daughters. What do you hope they learn from Beautycounter?
GR: Confidence and self-reliance. My mother always made it a point to teach me the importance of being able to stand on my own two feet, and I hope I instill that in my own daughters. (Phebe – 9, and Georgie – 5). I also hope for the day where they don’t have to read labels on the products they use to know they are safe. No one should ever have to sacrifice their health in the name of beauty.
Christy Coleman, Head of Creative Design
BB: Pleeeeeease give us a spoiler. We are dying to know what Beautycounter is releasing next!
CC: All I can tell you is to expect amazing things for Fall! I have been hard at work for months designing some pretty incredible products.
BB: What is the number one request/complaint you receive from consumers?
CC: We get many requests for mascara – and it is definitely something we are working on! I have to say, we don’t really get too many complaints!
BB: What is your desert-island-cosmetic of choice?
CC: Can I pick more than one?! Organic coconut oil, our (brand-new) Calendula Lip Balm, and our new Beautycounter SPF Body.
Mia Davis, Head of Health and Safety
BB: Please tell us about your educational and professional background prior to joining Beautycounter.
MD: I have a MA in International Development, Community & Environment from Clark University, and I was formerly the Organizing Director for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a national coalition of nonprofit organizations working to move the cosmetics industry away from toxic chemicals and toward safer solutions.
BB: How does BC’s Screen differ from the EWG Skin Deep database? How much do you work with the EWG?
MD: EWG’s Skin Deep is a searchable database that provides a hazard score for cosmetic ingredients and products. Consumers can use it to research specific ingredients and products, to better understand hazards of cosmetics that they might already be using, or to compare brands before making a purchase decision. The Beautycounter Ingredient Screen is a tool that we use to assess the hazards and relative risk of ingredients before we decide if we’ll allow them into our products. Every potential ingredient is “screened,” meaning that we look for available data in the Skin Deep database and a variety of other places (like authoritative lists of chemicals, published journals, etc). We’re looking to see if a chemical has been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, skin irritation, and other health endpoints. We’ve screened nearly 1000 chemicals for safety at this point, and the list continues to grow. We are one of the only cosmetics companies that takes a comprehensive, long-term approach to chemical safety. EWG is a trusted nonprofit partner of Beautycounter. We work with this nonprofit organization and others to help to build the environmental health movement and the demand for safer chemicals and products for everyone.
BB: Has it been difficult to conduct research, hire experts, etc? What is your advice to women who want to go into the scientific R&D side of the beauty industry?
MD: Yes! Since chemical companies are not required to provide safety data on the chemicals that they bring to market, it’s not easy to to get all of the information we need to make decisions about which ingredients are allowed in our products. In the absence of data we ask hard questions about the source of the ingredient, the processing, the functionality. We’re not dealing with a full deck of cards, so to speak, but we’re doing the best we can to be protective of people’s long term health, and to move the marketplace toward safer products and greater transparency. I would love to see more women who care about both performance *and* safety in the beauty industry! We should never compromise health for beauty, and we shouldn’t accept hidden ingredients and contaminants in cosmetics as the norm. Beautycounter is proof that we don’t have to. The more women are interested in taking this challenge on, the sooner we’ll have more exciting, innovative, safe products in the US.
A huge thank you to each of these women for taking time from their busy schedules to indulge us and an extra-huge thank you to Meaghan Curcio, their director of PR, who has the patience of a saint.
And last, I recently hosted a small product party with Beautycounter’s Charleston consultant, Katherine McElroy. Katherine came armed with knowledge, products for everyone to try and zero sales pressure. It was casual and fun and we drank a decent amount of Rose’ while sampling and shopping. If you get a chance to host or attend a Beautycounter party, do it. It’s girlfriends + happy hour + beauty. Can’t go wrong there…
If you are local to any of these areas or have Beautycounter-specific questions, contact one of these fine ladies. I’ve had the pleasure of corresponding with all of them. They are all kind, generous and knowledgeable.
Katherine McElroy, Charleston, SC
Ihrie Wood, Raleigh, NC
Jill Wright, Williamson County, TN