Anyone with a stove and access to Essential Oils, Green Tea and Shea Butter (or even leftover coffee grinds), seems to be making a business out of producing beautiful body care products these days. Not all of them make it long term of course, but all those divine potions are slowly and systematically adding up to a huge new industry. One of the side benefits of working at ekko.world is watching the rise and rise of great things. Try, test, learn. Repeat.A change in body care products was something we really really needed - decentralising control and decoupling from the increasing diet of unnecessary chemicals, micro-plastics and diminishing semblance to anything even vaguely natural. Somewhere along the line, the skin care and cosmetics we lathered ourselves in daily climbed north of 100 different chemicals. Many of them unregulated and many dangerous and some just downright bad for you. You probably can recite the usual carcinogen suspects by now: diethyl phthalate (fragrances); triclosan (antibacterial products); formaldehyde & parabens (preservatives) etc.
Small batch producers are popping up everywhere. Producers of anything and everything you can imagine and generally excellent quality imagining. But with increasing growth comes increasing variables - both for the consumer and the producer. For consumers, it is really important to check the ingredients list, ask questions of the maker and also check reviews.
The problem for many producers, particularly when a product can be cheaply imported from off shore or can literally be made in a pot in a kitchen, is that the barriers to entry are low. And that means there is always going to be a passing parade of people simply having a go. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but it can mess with the industry's reputation. And the small batch industry has many many many excellent producers.
Buyers simply need to be vigilant. The best thing about our high tech world is that it has created a self policing and product reviews keep everyone honest. And reviews are both the incentive of the producer to be honest and good reason to get reviews. For producers, it is hardly a walk in the park keeping product integrity when your products are made up of multiple ingredients and you are relying on your supplier's integrity in the same way as your customers rely on you. As any industry grows. the chances of less scrupulous players grows with it. And this is particularly true with global supply.
One example was Environmental Toothbrush who went ahead and put a particular brush head on their toothbrushes because it was well known to be compostible. Through a blogger who actually went to the trouble of testing the bristles, they discovered that suppliers had been misrepresenting the type of plastic being used in toothbrush bristles for years.Environmental Toothbrush now explain clearly what toothbrush bristles are made of and took the time to educate us as well. (And we learned a whole heap about toothbrush bristles and claims that other suppliers on ekko.world were unwittingly making. That gave us the chance to let them know.)James Street Organics say that they were at one point duped by a supplier and discovered a small amount of Palm Oil in one of their products. Their commitment to achieving palm oil free certification and keeping their product integrity, meant this was a costly error, but the price had to be paid for product integrity. The really important point about this conversation is that we are talking about body care product integrity in the context of the planet. Which means we are well past discussing what kind of chemicals might be in these products. And that is the truly important point about small batch producers. They have helped change the game and made the big producers more honest in the process. (We are not saying that laws haven't helped, but that is only one part of the whole shift.)For small, genuine suppliers, building a business is still as hard as it has ever been, but for all of us who enjoy better products as a result of it, the journey is worth it.