Sit back, brew your favorite tea, relax and sip away. This month, we invite you to leave your worries behind even if it’s just for a brief moment. We’re proud to be sharing the story of our March feature, Made Simple Skin Care, told by its creator Julie Ann from Massachusetts who has captured our entire team’s hearts with her remarkable journey.
How did you come up with the idea to start your own skin care and oral care line?
My husband and I were looking for the next step in our lives together and wanted to do something we could feel passionate about. It would have to be something with flexibility, challenge, creativity, is family-oriented and with room to apply our beliefs in practical environmental innovation and stewardship. When we founded Made Simple it was a small company looking for growth and fresh ideas. The fact that all the products were certified organic, cruelty-free, non-GMO, raw, vegan, and in glass containers made it a no-brainer. Made Simple Skin Care was going to be our family business! It was more : Made Simple inspired us rather than us being inspired to start our own skin care company.
Growing up I was taught that if you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all. So, we always keep it positive and honest when talking about our products and not harshly about other brands. What you put on and in your body is your choice; we just want to offer a healthy alternative. However, truth be told, we gained further inspiration when it dawned on us that healthy skin and mouth is created not by masking and killing what the body does naturally but instead by enhancing that. My skin issues and also gum issues were the result of chemicals upon chemicals depriving my body and creating a dependency to move to the next "cure" when in fact, the simplest, most natural solution was the best one. Of course, our ingredients are all-natural and might be slightly different from time to time because nature, too, is different from time to time. We are open and honest about this so that our customers know that we are about finding a solution, not just selling a product.
You mentioned that you have had “skin issues”. What is your experience in using your products on very sensitive or acne-prone skin?
I was very wary, aka terrified, of using oil to clean my face and oil-based serums to moisturize and treat my facial skin. While I was happily using all the other products, the dread of skin eruptions that would take months to calm down made me hesitate. My husband and I had agreed that we would use all the products so we would get to know them. Therefore, I braced myself and used every one on my face; well, not at the same time. To my surprise, and relief, not only was I break-out-free, but my skin started improving! My rosacea is under control and I haven’t had a cyst since I started using Made Simple.
Now, we wake up every morning knowing we have a family of products that we fully trust which also has the efficacy to be a part of a solution for others to experience the same simple relief that we did.
Creating Cruelty-Free and Vegan products has become a popular selling point these days. But I suspect, in your case there’s much more to it than just marketing speak.
First of all, we LOVE animals and would never test on them nor use their by-products in our skin care range. We even escort spiders out of the house before we’d think of squashing one! We only test on ourselves and sometimes friends and family since, well, they don’t seem to mind the free product.
To us the environment we share is open and free to everything and everyone. It's only when there is a mutually beneficial relationship that resources should be shared. Otherwise, the system gets completely out of balance and too often mankind seems to think that a mechanical solution will fix it. Of course, most often that leads to greater problems and the cycle repeats itself. So much for the higher intelligent being. Bees need their wax, we don't.
We were also excited about the certified organic aspect of Made Simple Skin Care, because products made with certified organic ingredients, like the Orange and Bergamot Face Toner Hydrosol, are not only better for our body but our planet is also better off when the full cycle of a product is put into perspective.
Your skin is your largest organ. It absorbs what you put on it, even if what you put on your skin is toxic. So we believe that what you put on your body should be safe enough to go in your body (because it’s going to end up there anyway). I mean, why would anyone want to put something on their skin that has a warning on its label?! I’m amazed at how many so-called natural, personal care products warn against ingestion, but even if you don’t eat the product your skin is still absorbing it. So, toxin-free, food-grade organic products are the way to go and we wanted that culture to be in full view. Which is why we took the extra step of having an independent third-party inspect and certify us under the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).
We take this seriously and put our money where our mouth is.
“We don't just say it; we are IT.”
So, how does this environmentally conscious thinking translate to your business practice?
We believe that leaving our small place on this large planet in better shape than we found it, isn’t just a good idea or good for the business, it is our responsibility as human beings. We believe that honesty and customer service build community. Sustainability in philosophy and practice has always been the linchpin that holds our company together. It’s always been our first priority, and to that end, we work tirelessly to ensure we are a model of environmental responsibility and customer engagement. We have a demonstrated commitment to environmental responsibility in every aspect of our operations, and are continuously seeking better ways to have the least impact possible from our operations. Staying true to our brand supports biodiversity, helps conserve fresh water, enhances the soil from which all our products are derived and sets the benchmark for our growth.
Since our brand philosophy involves strict product stewardship, everything is hand-crafted with our own hands in small batches to ensure freshness. And, as a brand, we are also committed to community. We know there's a whole big world outside our doors and we want to help make it as beautiful as we can. That's why we embrace opportunities to support small progressive non-profit organizations chosen by our customers. That's right - our customers pick the charities within the areas of environmental protection, criminal justice reform and arts.
Applying these principles means you need reliable suppliers to source your raw, organic ingredients. How do you manage to do that?
Because we are committed to a complete line of products that have been certified to USDA NOP standards, we only source from suppliers that offer raw ingredients grown under those same standards. This doesn’t just guarantee our products are certified organic, and therefore good for you and the planet, it also ensures that the ingredients in our products are pure and unadulterated. Remember, it's not just about how your skin looks or the health of your teeth and gums, it's about the health and livability of the people who harvest the raw ingredients and the environment in which they live.
We also take some time to understand the company philosophy and culture of both our suppliers and those to whom we sell wholesale. We've spent many hours on the phone just talking with the owners or managers of these companies so that we can build a level of trust in each other. It goes both ways, we want suppliers who share our values and sellers like Nourish Beauty Box who respect our brand philosophy.
Made Simple Skin Care is something we’d love to see flourish. But expansion often means you may have to sacrifice your product integrity. How can you ensure you preserve your values as you grow?
Obviously, we hope that our brand continues to grow and be successful. However, we don't measure success in terms of dollars in our pocket. Evidently, we all need money to put food on the table and extra treats for our pooch, but that doesn't mean taking more than you need at the expense of others. But, as we continue to grow, an important goal is to source directly and cultivate strong relationships with the best organic farmers in the world; all the better if those farmers are local. A good level of knowledge and communication with farmers would allow us to preserve our product integrity and ensure fair business practices throughout the supply chain.
“We believe that the way our ingredients are produced, from seed and soil to the people who are involved in the production, is just as important as the finished product.”
We see ourselves as a link in a chain of sustainable production and would like to be a positive force in that chain. Some call it product stewardship, some call it "cradle to grave", but regardless of how you put it, our aspiration is to create a brand that you feel good about.
One final goal is to demonstrate that doing more than taking the easy road can still lead to a successful company. It may sound overly simple but we are striving to be a zero-waste company, back to that product stewardship concept, in that we reuse and recycle all incoming packing materials and unlike most other companies we encourage our customers to return our glass containers and we'll even pay for it! We won’t use plastic bottles and soon we hope to have metal caps only. We know that this example can lead to more customers demanding accountability and responsibility from the companies they choose to do business with and that's a good thing.
What would you suggest to those who would like to start their own line of beauty products?
“Great companies last by listening to their customers.”
There are so many skin care companies out there and often what sets one apart is the culture of that company. The culture of a company is a reflection of the owners. So be honest about who you are and let your company culture reflect that. Made Simple Skin Care may not be the answer for everyone's skin and oral care needs and we know that. But, we've created a culture of trying to find a skin care or oral care solution for anyone who asks before worrying about whether our product is the answer.