There is a new kid on the Green Beauty block, people. Credo Beauty, a start-up out of San Francisco, aims to present non-toxic beauty as essential, not an alternative. With a gorgeous, easy-to-navigate website as well as a brick-and-mortar store and spa that will open in April, Credo Beauty offers a selection of over 50 truly natural beauty and personal care brands. I had a virtual sit-down with Credo’s Founder and CEO, Shashi Batra, recently. As one of the founding members of Sephora, you might see where he is going with this… Just imagine a beautiful venue full of luxurious, effective, non-toxic beauty products with a knowledgable staff to guide you – in every major city in the country! Wouldn’t that be amazing?! Read on to learn more about Shashi’s fascinating and accomplished background as well as Credo’s future plans.
Shashi Batra, Founder & CEO, Credo Beauty
BB: You were a founding team member at Sephora; have you always been interested in healthy, Green living, or, did your trend forecasting and market research background open your eyes to a different way of life?
SB: I was not always interested in healthy/green living. However when I moved from NY to SF in 1998 I only just started to understand what green living was all about. The move was more than a geographic change, it was a move out of the traditional power center where all the beauty conglomerates are headquartered. Being submerged in the NY business culture was really the obstacle to seeing the reality and the dangerous impact of the traditional beauty brands. The move out West also made me appreciate the profound connection we all have to the environment, how beauty and healthy living can be completely interdependent. However even at this time in Sephora we could not find the brands that could give us a significant green beauty platform and the age of information was not prevalent enough to justify pursuing it. So consumers and merchants alike were not aware of the harmful impact that had been our legacy of bad habits. It was with my move back to NY to be the President of Victorias Secret Beauty where I decided to follow my convictions. When I arrived there in 2008 we started taking immediate steps toward packaging sustainability. In the beginning they were small steps (See article http://www.greenerpackage.com/recycling/victorias_secret_tackles_sustainability) but by 2012 we converted more than 75% of the unit packaging in a $1 billion dollar business into sustainably sourced and recyclable. In 2009 I launched the first ever Victorias Secret naturals/organic project. It was under the younger Pink by Victorias Secret banner and it was great product in completely sustainable packaging (see article http://www.treehugger.com/organic-beauty/victorias-secret-launches-an-organic-line-of-beauty-products.html). While that was too early for the mass market and clearly talking to the wrong psychographic (Victorias Secret customers), it was my first step to really believing what the future needed to be one day.
Credo Beauty’s first store, opening April 2015, on Fillmore Street in San Francisco
BB: It seemed to be only a matter of time before a group of experienced merchants with enough capital and vision decided to embark on launching the Green version of Sephora. What are the players’ backgrounds and how did you all come together to launch this venture?
SB: The primary investors are family friends who formed the Next World Group. They do some VC work and love sustainable consumer brands as well. They also manage a significant philanthropic family foundation that is focused on eradication of extreme poverty and cleaning up the environment. The main operators and also co-owners of Credo are myself and Annie Jackson. Annie was a merchant at Sephora and worked with me when we started that venture as well.
BB: What currently sets Credo Beauty apart from other Green Beauty retailers?
SB: Our holistic approach. The total experience: the store design, the service (on floor and off the floor treatments), telling the brand stories and the connection to community. We have the most comprehensive collection of brands that have great product and a true raison d’etre for what they do and where they source their ingredients. They are different from the first generation of natural brand visionaries because they focus on beauty and efficacy as a critical part of their brands – in design, packaging, texture and scent. We call this the naturals 2.0 movement and our goal is to give them a national platform that is as authentic and transparent as they are. The Credo name is reflective of the belief that there is a better way to look beautiful with both style and substance. It’s a belief in a holistic vision for what beauty is: looking good and feeling good. One of our unique features is a section we call ‘Healthy Swaps’. We present the list of popular products made by conventional brands and we recommend a healthy alternative to it. If a conventional product is not on our list, our customers simply enter the name on the healthy swaps page and we respond with a healthy alternative. Additionally, we will soon be announcing our philanthropy project. We are working on a partnership with an organization that is directly relevant and core to our mission and what we curate. We expect this to be more than a superficial alliance that is simply talked about during one designated month of the year. This partnership will be integral to our brand and one that we give exposure to daily as part of a holistic approach of what we stand for. We are really excited about the potential contribution we can make as a collective group with our partner brands.
BB: Who researches and sets the standards for health and sustainability at Credo? What is the process and what standards has the company adopted thus far?
SB: Annie works with several organizations to make those decisions. Primarily, we do not carry products that include anything from our ever evolving ‘never list’ of ingredients. Additionally since there are many sophisticated ways of hiding harmful ingredients, we partner with the NY Institute of Aromatherapy and rely on their expertise to evaluate the hidden dangers in more complex formulas. On packaging sustainability we look for at least one of 3 fundamentals…recycled, recylable and reusable. We don’t always find them, but we work with our brand partners to encourage and support them to achieve this.
BB: You are a father to two daughters. What do you hope Credo Beauty will teach them?
SB: For my daughters and all the girls in the world, the single most import thing we can do in the personal care category is live up to the responsibility of educating the next generation about being beautiful and healthy. It is our role to engage this generation into the naturals 2.0 movement. To do it with emotion and beauty, something the original pioneers of natural beauty did not do. We need to provide beautiful brands and products with style and substance to forever change the way people think about and shop this category.
Thank you, Shashi!