You guys know how much I love Integrity Botanicals already – read about why in my About Me & Go-To’s For Green Beauty posts. I have been ordering most of my products from them for about three years now, and it’s so awesome that they continue to add on more and more great brands to the lines they carry, as it means I’m getting closer to finding my one-stop green shop. Their service is always quick and impeccable, their personalities so lovely, and you are able to feel more of a personal connection when you shop here, a detail thanks to their handwritten letters with every order.
I’m super excited to have had the chance to ask this wonderful husband and wife team-Marc & Terri- some questions. It’s wonderful to interview someone from a green vendor standpoint since they have experimented with, filtered through, and explored many products in the world of green beauty and health in order to bring us the best of the best in their shop. This brings us a different perspective than what we can gain from let’s say an interview with a specific brand for green skincare, as they have to experiment with all fields of green beauty and health, rather than with just one domain. I hope you guys enjoy the interview! Make sure to check them out (Click here). 🙂
~I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily easy to influence people to make greener choices in their makeup, skincare, or fragrance choices, but you can’t deny that green products are performing at the same level, if not out-performing, conventional products now a days. More and people are getting involved in the green beauty movement and learning to care about what they expose their bodies too. Generally, these products are catered more towards women, or they are unisex. Agent Nateur was a green brand I noticed that didn’t just stick to creating a unisex product when it came to their deodorant- there is one catered towards women (holi(Rose)), and one for men (holi(men)). It’s not to say one formulation is SOLELY for one gender or the other, of course, but each has more potential of gaining favor with one over the other. Do you think more green brands need to consider doing this and stray out of unisex products? How do you guys think green brands can do a better job to cater to men?
I don’t think brands necessarily need to market specific products to a certain gender. I almost think it’s better to keep it unisex. For example, we have women who love the Holi(man) version of Agent Nateur’s deodorant. The black packaging doesn’t steer women away, but on the other hand, the pink Holi(Rose) packaging may steer a man away. I think brands are smart if they create unisex packaging so it appeals to both sexes. Some men will steer away from a brand if it’s too pretty or girly looking (even if they love the product inside). Our customer base is about 95% female and we have found that men who get interested in green beauty usually find their way through a girlfriend or wife by using some of their products or it being gifted to them. There are two brands that we carry that are the perfect example of making their packaging unisex looking in a successful way, Josh Rosebrook and Ursa Major. Each of these brands’ packaging and products themselves appeal to both sexes.
I think a big part of the reason that men are less “green” conscious when it comes to skin care and hair care is that you never see green beauty lines featured in men’s magazine, but green beauty lines are commonplace in popular women’s magazines. The only green beauty line I think I’ve ever seen in GQ, Esquire or Men’s Health is Ursa Major.
~I love the personal notes you send out, specific to each order made- it’s such a nice touch and I’m sure time consuming! How did you guys come to start doing this? Is this something you think you would still do even if you’re customers continued to increase?
From day one, I always wanted to thank people for their orders and communicate with them in some personal way since we are an online only business. Writing a note is our way of communicating our appreciation since we cannot convey this feeling in person. I really do enjoying writing notes and connecting with our customers, offering suggestions, etc. It makes me feel good to look at someone’s order history and figure out what I think they might like- it almost has a rewarding feeling that I am trying to help with someone else’s skincare routine since I am familiar with all of the products and might be able to help them or suggest something that they might not have discovered on their own.
Writing notes is very time consuming though. As we continue to grow, it is getting harder and harder to write a note with every single order. We recently hired someone (Jen) who has been helping out in many areas including writing notes. She has become a very valuable asset to our team and we find ourselves very lucky to have found her. During times when order volume is much higher than normal, such as promotions and sales, if Jen or I cannot write a note, we at least write a little thank you at the top of their order, letting them know someone packed their order with love and care. I wish I could write notes for all of our customers all the time. 🙂 We also have to think about our customers and how excited they are to receive their orders too. We live in a world now where everyone has an Amazon Prime expectation of shipping speed and writing notes all the time and looking through someone’s order history really slows things down.
As we continue to grow, I know we will find creative ways of thanking customers even if it isn’t a long, detailed handwritten note. I really do not want this aspect of our business to go away completely as it really makes us a part of who we are and makes the shopping experience with us more personable. I have seen some other growing businesses do away with small thank you notes and it makes the shopping experience feel much more impersonal…like products were just thrown in a box by a warehouse, by someone you have no connection with, and shipped off without any care or attention. I really do not wish to follow the same path. I wish for our customers to feel important and know that we cared about packing their order and are appreciative of their business.
~You make sure each product you carry in your shop adheres to your standards, which not only shows how committed you two are to your philosophy for Integrity Botanicals, but also makes customers confident in knowing they can always expect products of a certain pedigree without needing to question the items themselves. Whereas for example you require for the makeup you carry to be free of any artificial coloring, other green vendors still choose to include these said products or shades, as it doesn’t interfere with the standards they set out. What made you decide this, considering customers who are looking for a certain shade or product will go elsewhere in this case? Do you think if more vendors or customers adapted this philosophy, we can see even cleaner products from our already loved non-toxic brands?
We decided not to carry makeup that includes artificial colorings because there are so many companies making beautiful and effective products without using these ingredients; they have found a way around it so why would we settle for anything less? Sometimes including artificial colorings is easier for a manufacturer because of the quality control. Using natural pigments can be vary challenging for a brand for a number of reasons. First, natural ingredients tend to vary from batch to batch so it takes a lot more work to get a makeup color consistent each batch since you need to tweak the formulation every time to get an exact color match. There is also the much higher likelihood of having an ingredient shortage and then you’ll end up seeing that color on backorder for months from that manufacturer until that ingredient becomes available again. Also, it allows manufacturer to produce a much broader range of color. In particular, producing makeup in the shades of bright yellow and bright orange are a challenge to manufacture without the use of artificial pigments. Usually, this means resorting to using Yellow 5 a.k.a. tartrazine, which is a by-product of coal tar distillation. Granted, artificial pigments tend to make up a very small portion(under 1%) of a product’s overall ingredients, but as a company, we did not feel coal tar by-products were consistent with how we positioned ourselves as a green beauty retailer.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that all makeup brands will adopt this philosophy of not including artificial ingredients in some of their products and I understand their reasoning. I have spoken to brand founders who have struggled with this decision and it really comes down to being able to produce a broad range of colors and being able to produce consistent colors in each batch. If you can’t produce the colors people want, then they will buy it from someone else, especially because many consumers consider a green brand that uses artificial coloring to still be better than a conventional brand and I understand that.
At Integrity Botanicals, we really have savvy customers who are for the most part educated on ingredients and they ask a lot of questions. I would say the majority of our customers come to us because they know we are one of the ‘cleanest’ green beauty retailers. If an ingredient is considered questionable, we won’t have it in our store and this applies to many “grey area” ingredients like phenoxyethanol and dimethicone, which are generally not consider to be particularly healthy, but find there way in many “green” lines. We want customers to feel confident and safe when shopping with us.
Not to get off topic, but it is related and do want to disclose that the one exception to artificial colorings on our site is nail polish, which we disclose on our “our products” page. I have simply not found a company that makes natural nail polish that will last long. The natural ones I have tried would chip or peel away within minutes of taking a shower or washing my hands. I think it’s safe to assume most people wear nail polish because they want it there to stay for more than a few hours. That being said, we do offer safer nail polish, that is 8 free and does not include the typical toxic ingredients found in nail polish, such as toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, and camphor, xylene, parabens & TPHP.
~I’m sure you two have scoured many, MANY green products in many categories. What category are you noticing there is still too many toxic products and not enough green? What category contains green products that have to be improved much more before they can be taken seriously?
I think hair care is lacking a bit, especially styling products like hair gel and pomades. The natural beauty market seems to be oversaturated with skincare, especially face oils in particular. We have at least a handful of new skincare companies that contact us every day asking us to consider their brand. Almost every brand has a face oil, a cleansing oil and a dry powder clay mask. Where are all of the gel serums and enzyme peels? I’d love to see more skincare companies come out with face creams. Obviously a face cream is much trickier to formulate than a face oil, and since water is a key ingredient, it requires some type of preservative to be included to prevent microbial growth. Liquid eyeliner and shaving cream are two other products that are lacking in the natural beauty industry. The only effective shaving cream that we have found(which we use daily) is Ursa Major’s. I think as green beauty continues to grow we will see more innovation and many incredible new products on the horizon.
~I love that you guys expanded to include Wellness products in Integrity Botanicals! It makes it easier and easier to get everything in one shot from you guys! One thing I notice in the green vendors I have purchased from is that no one includes home cleaning products. Would you ever consider adding clean household products to the lines Integrity Botanicals carries?
Thank you! We have been trying to create a one stop shop and wellness has been an exciting and successful category for us. We’ve considered carrying CleanWell’s cleaning products – I am a huge fan and use them daily in our house. I particularly love the Botanical Disinfectant All Purpose Cleaner. After much consideration, we decided against carrying home cleaning products due to the high shipping costs associated with large heavy products. We are happy to be able to offer our customers free shipping for orders over $50, however, this would not be possible if we had to ship much heavier items. If we charged shipping for this category, the shipping costs would in many cases increase the total cost of the products by 50% or more over retail. At the end of the day, it unfortunately didn’t make economic sense for our customers or us.
~Can you give us a hint of what brands are to come in the future ;D
We have just recently launched some amazing brands including Max and Me, which is a really unique line from Austria, and Fitglow Beauty. We also have some really exciting brand launches in the works for 2018! Our focus for new brand additions are lines with unique and innovative products and/or brands that fill gaps in our product offerings. Our first additions will be adding a self tanning brand and a skincare brand out of Hawaii early in the new year. We have been testing both brands out for the last year or so. We are pretty selective when it comes to brands we add and we like to space out our brand launches at about one per month to give each brand the exposure it deserves. Another reason why we tend to add brands more slowly is that we test pretty much every single product before we decide to carry it in our store and it takes a lot of time. Marc and I have been pretty much continuously evaluating new products for the past seven years. Over time, we have expanded our group of product evaluators so we have a wider range of perspectives(not to mention skin types, hair types, etc).
~ If you two do end up creating your own brand for Integrity Botanicals, what category do you think it’ll be in? 😀
People ask us quite often if we think we’ll eventually do our own line and while we have entertained the idea, we have ultimately decided that it is best to left to the passionate individuals who have that special combination of amazing creativity and formulation expertise. Maybe at some point we will get to do a collaboration with one of our brands for a product exclusive to IB. Marc and I have always been big fans of artisanal soaps so if we were to do a collaboration, we would love to create a soap with a custom scent for Integrity Botanicals.