Brianne West, founder of Ethique. Image supplied.
Brianne West created ethical beauty brand Ethique in the kitchen of her Christchurch home in 2012. Since then her natural solid beauty bars have caught on globally and she has used her science knowledge to expand her range and produce all her products in 100% biodegradable, compostable packaging so they create zero consumer waste. She has concentrated the natural ingredients in her Ethique beauty bars so they are as effective and last longer than their processed bottled counterparts.
We caught up with Brianne to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what’s next for Ethique.
Where did the idea for Ethique come from and what’s the inspiration for the name?
Ethique came about as a combination of my passion for the environment, knowledge of cosmetic chemistry (and the waste the industry creates) and the desire to create a business that had far more at its core than just making profit. The name means ethical in French, which was a good fit and from a practical standpoint, I could get trademarks around the world for it!
Ethical, sustainable products are in the public consciousness much more than they used to be, why was it important to you to adopt those principles with your business?
I always struggle to answer this question because to me this is how businesses should be run. It should be the norm for businesses to pay their team a living wage, reduce their environmental impact and consider the entire lifecycle of their products, not to increase profits at the cost of all of the above.
Where did the idea come from for your compostable packaging?
It’s quite simple really, it’s just cardboard which when treated correctly and is both compostable and recyclable. We don’t use plastics or laminates as most packaging does (which increases its UV stability, adds gloss and makes it have that bit more oomph on the shelf) and our card stock is FSC certified, uses vege inks and is both acid and chlorine free.
Who do you think is the Ethique customer and what are they looking for from your brand?
Our early adopters were those people who put the environment or social causes first, however people love the products so much they told their friends and it grew pretty quickly from there.
What are the key ingredients that you work with for your products and why did you choose them?
Coconut oil is the biggest, we use loads of it. Two reasons really; it’s remarkably efficacious for hair and skin and secondly we work with a cooperative in Samoa who produce virgin coconut oil. That way we ensure we pay them a fair price for their product, which gets distributed through their communities. A lot of our ingredients are derived from coconut too, which is unusual as they are usually derived from palm – something we won’t use. We also use a lot of essential oils as we don’t use synthetic fragrance and cocoa butter too.
What are your personal favourite products from your range?
PINKALICIOUS is still my favourite shampoo (a limited edition we released for our birthday which is so popular and sold out almost instantly! it’s soon to join the range full time.) and you can’t beat THE PERFECTOR for hydration.
What are your top tips for healthy skin?
Healthy diet and water are both important (as we all know) as food intolerances can have more of an impact on the skin than people realise. Gentle skin cleansing, nutrient rich moisturisers and the occasional treatment too.
What role does social media and influencers play in your business?
Social is big for us; we can have immediate interaction with our fans and those who haven’t given up the bottle yet. We get feedback, tell our story and the majority of our new customers find us that way. Influencers less so, we haven’t really worked with too many directly yet but our approach is to find people who genuinely love and use the products and work with them. We do have two wonderful PR companies who handle these relationships for us.
What is next for Ethique and where do you see your business in five years’ time?
It’s going to be a big year, let alone the next five! We’ve got some real game changing products coming out this year and we’re expanding into some new international markets. We should hit 1,000,000 plastic bottles saved this year which is very exciting – my initial goal was by 2020! In five years’ time I’d like Ethique to be a household name in the USA as well as New Zealand and Australia and firmly established in some of the other markets we’re beginning to enter. In regards to impact, I want other companies to see there are alternative ways to package and provide products and to think about how they sell theirs!