BEAUTY BRAND REIMAGINING SUSTAINABILITY: INTERVIEW WITH BEAUTY DISRUPTED
Interview by Anano Shalamberidze
In pursuit of the next best thing in sustainability, Numéro talks to Beauty Disrupted, a Swedish-French beauty brand reimagining what it means to combine being environmentally friendly with extremely high quality.
Firstly, let’s go back to the beginning. Where and when did it all start?
My French co-founder Alban Mayne and I were both working in the tech industry when we heard the staggering statistic that some 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles are trashed annually. Hardly any of them are recycled, and many end up in the oceans. We became convinced that there must be a better and cleaner way to do beauty and hair care. So we purchased all plastic-free beauty and haircare products we could find, from Sweden to New Zealand, and then we spent months testing them. We found a lot of really green products, but we didn’t find anything that felt premium or that we loved.
What was the tipping point where you finally decided to start your venture?
After 20 years in the international tech business, we quit our tech careers and spent two years seeking out the perfect ingredients for clean, luxurious, and plastic-free products. We explored the French Alps with local botanists and learned from experts and artisans from around Europe. Our goal was, and remains, to create products that are luxurious and indulgent but not at the expense of our planet. We decided to focus on conscious and luxurious solid bars, where every bar we offer has to exceed the pleasure and performance of the most premium liquid alternative while also being completely free of plastic and questionable ingredients.
Who and what inspires you on the daily? What fuels your imagination?
Our goal is to show the beauty industry that there is a better and cleaner way to do beauty and hair care. We are in it to make products that are wonderful to use and that really deliver for both people and the planet. As such, we look at and get inspired by other players who are changing their industries for the better. Tesla is a great example of that. They were not the first to make an electric car. But they were the first to make one that was well-designed, fun to drive, and desirable. That way they forced the rest of the car industry to drastically speed up the transition to electric vehicles. Other brands that inspire us, by challenging the industries they are in, include Stella McCartney in fashion, Patagonia in sporting goods, CAKE (ridecake.com) in two-wheel transportation, etc.
What are your earliest memories of beauty? Do you remember your first source of inspiration?
My earliest memories are of perfume bottles my grandfather gave me when I was a little boy back home on the Swedish Westcoast. My grandfather was a big and strong man, and I adored him. The perfumes however felt very strong and were definitely better for my grandfather than for a 6-year-old. But I loved the beautiful glass bottles!
My second memory is from when I moved away from home when I was 18. I immediately bought this high-end shampoo. It came in a really thick and heavy plastic bottle, and I thought it felt super premium. I don’t want to mention the brand, but now, some 30 years later, they still sell that exact same bottle, and now it just feels seriously out of tune with the times to make shampoo bottles that easily last a thousand years…
Tell us a little bit more about the brand name and its connection to the brand’s core values
Beauty Disrupted is really about helping the beauty industry change by showing that there is a better and cleaner way to do beauty and haircare. We want to show that it is possible to make products that are desirable and wonderful to use, yet free of questionable ingredients and plastic. We achieve that by using the finest and most caring natural ingredients and 100% organic fragrances from Grasse. We craft all our beauty products in the South of France using 100% renewable energy and luxurious packaging made of beautiful recycled cardboard rather than plastic. Each of our bars avoid the need for at least 2 plastic bottles and we donate 20% of our profits to amazing organizations that protect the planet and combat climate change. We hope to see the big beauty brands taking after that, just like the car industry is now following Tesla in making desirable electric cars.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the product development process? What is the starting point of an idea and how does it come to fruition?
We have a fairly wide range of solid bar products, and we don’t want to create new products that people don’t really need, just to drive more sales. Instead, we listen to feedback from our customers, and when they tell us they would love to see the product so and so from us, we start looking at it. We are a small team but we surround ourselves with some of the world’s best experts on solid bars, organic scents, etc. We constantly develop and test new ideas and products together with them. But in order for an idea to become an actual product that we sell, the product has to perform at least as good or better than the best high-end liquid alternative. If they don’t perform as well, we simply don’t launch them. This is for example why you don’t see any solid body lotion bars from Beauty Disrupted.
What would be your dream collaboration?
We are a young brand, but we are fortunate in that we do some of our dream collaborations already now. We donate 20% of our profits to amazing organizations that protect the planet and combat climate change. As part of that, we collaborate with incredible people and organizations like Sea Shepherd, Protect Our Winters, Ibiza Preservation, and the Jane Goodall Institute. Dr. Jane Goodall, for example, has done so much for our planet, and for humanity’s understanding of nature, so for us, it is hard to imagine more meaningful collaborations than that.
What would be your advice to young creatives starting out in the industry?
Surround yourself with amazing and ethical people that you trust and enjoy working with. And don’t take shortcuts when you develop your products. Being obsessed with ingredients, scents, sustainability, packaging, etc is time-consuming and painful when you develop the product, but once it is done you have a product you can really stand behind and be proud of. And when you speak to investors, press, retail partners, consumers, etc. they can really feel your passion and all the sweat and tears that have gone into your product, and that makes all the difference in the world!
And finally, what are the next steps for the brand and for you as the founders?
We get truly heartwarming feedback on our products, but we do get questions about how to store the bars, and how to know which bar is which, in the shower. We have worked a long time on developing beautiful yet functional solutions to that, and we will soon launch a patented solution that truly is the missing piece in the entire bar space. After that, we will be out meeting with many of the world’s finest hotels. Because the upper end of the hotel industry all want to move away from the little plastic bottles in their hotel room showers, and we now have something unique to replace them with. And then we have new markets to enter and some exciting new products in the pipe. So, 2023 will be busy, but we should still find some time for our passions outside work. I have this beautiful mountain bike trail that I want to ride across the Italian Alps and my co-founder will for sure be out sailing and looking for whales.