On a very exciting evening, Gregg Renfrew, the founder of Beautycounter, was able to chat, drink an mingle with a very well-known audience, including the actress and singer Mandy Moore, Selby Drummond, an accessories editor at Vogue, and Margaret Spencer, the COO of Plum TV, the lifestyle network.
Ms. Renfrew had to opportunity to not only introduce Beautycounter’s environmentally friendly line of products to these group of women, but also tell her story about the company and its efforts to help women make a living for themselves, while raising awareness about toxic ingredients. “The idea that people can build a business selling products they care about and believe in is a win-win situation for all,” she said.
Interestingly enough, Ms. Renfrew started the company after watching “An Inconvenient Truth” saying, “It made me connect the dots between the health of the earth and human beings.” She mentioned there are plenty of household cleaning products available that are safe (take for instance, Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company), and “there are many brands sold in a very earthy way, struggling to be all-natural and organic, but I wanted that stylish, high-fashion feel,” Ms. Renfrew said. You can experience that “high-fashioned feel” when you visit Beautycounter.com, and in the product design.
Although anyone can purchase products from Beautycounter.com, the company centers itself on memberships fostered by consultants who host “socials”. Think of it as a party where a group of women get together to chat, mingle, drink, eat and learn about Beautycounter’s products. Sounds fun, right? “We want to meet our clients wherever they want to shop with us,” Ms. Renfrew said. “Women have had great success in the mornings after they drop off the kids or doing it over breakfast.”
There are so many channels that consultants can promote and educate others about the products, and why switching to safer is important for women and her families. “Women share information and products with each other all the time,” and it’s time for them to be able to make money from the products and “their social networks,” said Ms. Renfrew.
The Beautycounter team established a “Never List” of ingredients listed on their site (image below) that they promise to never use in any of their products. There are about 1,500 other questionable ingredients that the European Union has banned or restricted that the U.S. still allows. Some of these ingredients include ike benzalkonium chloride (found in many hand sanitizers) and lithium hydroxide (found in hair-straightening serums).
“We’re hoping to create a situation where people don’t need to read our labels because we’re telling you the truth and trying to make you an informed consumer. We believe we have the strictest ingredient selection process in the country,” said Ms. Renfrew.
Of course, healthy, high-quality and safe products don’t come at a low-price, but if you’re purchasing products from Fresh or Bobbi Brown, then the prices are comparable.
And although Ms. Renfrew is a strong advocate for safer beauty for the good of our bodies and environment, she does admit to not being a perfectionist. “I still love to wear [my favorite] nail polish even though I know it’s not perfectly healthy,” she said.
(This story first appeared in The New York Times.)