Merriam-Webster, Aristotle, Nemo, and A Night For Green Beauty (Stick with me, people – I’m going to make sense eventually.)
By Sarah Villafranco, MD
Posted in Blog, on August 21, 2014
Well, I’m finally coming down from the high.
And, despite what the title of this post might lead you to believe, I’m not talking about the kind of high that most Colorado people are buzzing about right now. I’m talking about a high I didn’t expect, could not have predicted, and loved more than I can explain. I’m talking about A Night For Green Beauty, hosted by La Bella Figura on August 7 in Los Angeles.
We had just turned two years old when we were invited to apply for the event this year, and we did so eagerly. Once accepted, we set our sights on the much-anticipated event. Taja (Osmia's director of ops) and I finally arrived at the W Hotel in LA, wide-eyed and bushy-haired, wondering what we might find. But, who (hint – nobody) could have predicted what awaited us that night? In a world where cutthroat competition, insincerity, negative campaigning, and a seemingly endless cheapening of products and experiences are the norm, who could have guessed that we would come away from this event feeling inspired, nourished, and even MORE thrilled to be a part of this community?
I think I can explain the event best with a few definitions, courtesy of Merriam-Webster Online. Here they are:
: a person who belongs to the same age group or social group as someone else
Some people would say the room was filled with our competitors. But that’s not what it felt like to us. This was a group of people with the same objective: we all want to create beautiful, luxurious, sensual products made with the health of humanity and the planet in mind. That was the overwhelming feeling of the event – that we were all there for the same reason. Not to make money, or advance our brand awareness, or network - though all of those wonderful side effects happened, as well. It was more like being part of an activist group – all gathered to show our common passion. Even brands who were not selling at the event showed up to demonstrate their support. Who DOES that? Green beauty people, that’s who.
: the increased effectiveness that results when two or more people or businesses work together
Here comes the Aristotle thing. He postulated that a whole could be greater than the sum of its parts. A Night For Green Beauty comprised a lot of component parts. Twenty-something brands were present: well-established names like Juice Beauty, One Love Organics, and Odacité; brands like SW Basics and Zoe Organics - still niche brands but solidly out of the toddler phase; smaller but rapidly growing brands like May Lindstrom, Josh Rosebrook, Indie Lee, and Gressa Skin; and even more recently discovered brands like the lovely Laurel Skin, Mun, Lurk, and Province Apothecary. There were members of the press, green beauty bloggers, super-hip retailers like The Detox Market, and green-focused consumers swirling around the tables, a few still drunk on doses of aromatherapy by the gifted Hope Gillerman. Some incredible makeup artists were present, and demonstrated their talents (and the gorgeous makeup of W3ll People, Alima Pure, and La Bella Figura, to name a few) on some very lucky faces. Animated hands gestured with Sheswai-coated nails. But, together – TOGETHER! – we made up A Night For Green Beauty!! The effect was so much stronger than I could have fathomed. To explain it is like trying to explain water to someone who has only seen a hydrogen atom and an oxygen atom: we were so much greater - and different, and vibrant, and energized - than the sum of our parts.
Synergy occurred within brands themselves, as well. Watching Katharine and Grace, the mother-daughter team of Kahina Giving Beauty, was, indeed, a thing of beauty, and made me miss my mom so much I could hardly stand it. (Then again, maybe that will be me and one of my girls in 10 years!) How wonderful for Katharine to be able to give this gift to her lovely Grace, and for Grace to realize what a gift it is.
The One Love Organics team is all kinds of synergy - like a synergy smoothie. There’s Suzanne, the crazy-smart, business-minded, relatively calm anchor of the crew. I say relatively calm, because then you meet Ashley and Elizabeth, who are like the bubbles rising from the surface of (Dom Pérignon) champagne– they tickle you deliciously the moment they walk in a room. And the three of them, despite their enormous success, come together in this perfect symphony of humility, humor, and dedication to the cause. (I am currently angling to get any and all of them to come visit me in the mountains. I want them to see the aspen trees in their fall glory, or make them suffer on XC skis.)
Another great example? Shirley and James of W3ll People. First, I met James – delightfully handsome, personable, incredibly supportive, and in love with our Juniper Fire perfume. Then, I met Shirley (because she sniffed James and wanted some Juniper Fire for herself). W3ll, good grief. This woman is a glowing beacon of joy. The moment she introduced herself to me, my first thought was: “Can we be best friends for life and do everything together from now on?” THEN, I found out that Shirley and James were a pair, and I could instantly see the reason, in addition to their amazing line of natural cosmetics, for their achievement – it’s the James-Shirley Synergy Effect, and it’s better than a mojito on a hot summer night.
noun \ˌsim-bē-ˈō-səs, -ˌbī-\
biology : the relationship between two different kinds of living things that live together and depend on each other
A classic example of symbiosis in the natural world was made into common knowledge by a wee, orange fish called Nemo. Clownfish protect anemones by patrolling their perimeter and chasing off anemone-eating fish, while anemones protect the clownfish by providing a “fort” in which only the Nemos of the world, equipped with a special substance on their skin, can happily live.
And so it is with the Green Beauty Bloggers and the Green Beauty Brands. The green bloggers are people who, for a host of reasons, want to use fewer mainstream personal care products on their skin. Often, they have chemical sensitivities or problem skin, or are just interested in simplifying their routines. Some of them have been touched by illness in themselves or family members, and have started to consider what might be causing large-scale illness in our society. Many of them have a concern for the environment, and want to protect and repair our ecosystem. And, they need us, the green brands, to do this.
In turn, we rely on these outspoken, green pioneers to try our products, provide feedback, and help spread the news about our growing little companies. They help educate the mainstream about what we have to offer, so that consumers are making informed decisions. We trust them to know that most of us have invested heart and soul into our brands. A majority of these bloggers are kind, nurturing, thoughtful, independent thinkers with passions similar to my own. While a few bloggers out there post negative or scathing reviews, I find that the green bloggers tend to post reviews for products that work well for them, and not bash or dwell on the ones that don’t. For small businesses working their little tails off to put healthy products and positive energy into the world, this respectful approach to reviewing products is invaluable.
Bonus: the green bloggers I’ve met in person are just awesome. I took more goofy selfies with green beauty bloggers (you know who you are, ladies) than I can even remember. While not necessary from a biological standpoint, these amazing bloggers just make symbiosis so much more fun!
: to make effective or active or more effective or more active; also : to augment the activity of (as a drug) synergistically
In my medical career, I saw potentiation daily: certain medications were almost twice as effective when combined with another medication, such that you would almost hesitate to give one without the other. Each one had an effect, but the power of the two was remarkable.
Our Lavender Pine Soap is my current favorite example of potentiation – the lavender and pine essential oils make each other more powerful, and the scent is the lavendery-est, piney-est thing you’ve ever smelled. It’s like they inspire each other to be the best Lavender and the best Pine they can be.
This was the effect ANFGB had on me as a brand owner. I LOVE our products. But I love them even more as part of the bigger picture of Green Beauty! Rather than becoming insecure about what we’re doing or not doing, or which products we make or don’t make, I felt inspired to continue to do and make!
I particularly loved our visit to Strange Invisible, with the inimitable Patrick. (Actually, I am working on a fairly good imitation of him, so maybe that won’t be true for long.) The lovely shop, the beautifully complex scents, the depth of knowledge Patrick showed of the products – all left me exhilarated at being a part of the natural perfumery community, and brimming with the desire to get home to my essences. (Cue the mad-scientist-hand-wringing-while-smiling-as-if-I-am-possesed behavior.)
What’s so beautiful about it all is something I think I knew as I jumped ship from medicine to pursue Osmia, but hadn’t seen demonstrated as perfectly as it was in LA - there’s room for all of the brands. Like artists, we all do something slightly different, but equally beautiful. We draw inspiration from each other, support each other, and make each other more powerful. It’s quite an amazing thing to behold.
: the act of becoming known or coming into view : the act of emerging
This final vocabulary word is what I hope is happening to green beauty, in general. Thanks to all the people mentioned, all the ones I have (sorry!) forgotten to mention, and, quite specifically to the insanely hard work of Victoria and Karen from La Bella Figura Beauty, our little green group is growing, thriving, and starting to emerge. It takes courage to promote not only your brand, but all of your competition, for the sake of making the world a better place. It takes sweat, tears, and a whole lotta love to be a small business owner. It takes vision to come into view. Victoria and Karen clearly have this vision. So do our fellow green beauty brands, the green bloggers, the retailers, the make-up artists, and you - the keen, clean, green beauty consumer.
We are so deeply grateful to be part of it.
Much love (and thanks) from us to you -
Sarah & The Osmia Crew
Did you come to A Night For Green Beauty? This year? Last year? Do you hope to make it next year? Talk to us. We can't wait to hear.