interview. Odyssia Houstis
photos. courtesy of Beauty Disrupted
issue 1 – in love with Switzerland
Upon learning that 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles get trashed every year, they were determined to create better and cleaner alternatives more harmonious with the planet. After two years of research and development they created products that are free of plastic and chemicals, and contain fragrances and oils that are 100% organic with deeply moisturizing and nourishing properties. They donate 20% of their profits to non-profit organizations that protect the planet and combat climate change. It was a pleasure to sit down with Svante Holm to discuss Beauty Disrupted in depth and to understand what Switzerland means to him.
Why Switzerland? What is it about being Swiss based that is important for people to know?
I live in Engelberg Switzerland, and have been for many years. I’ve been a skier my whole life. I love the mountains. Switzerland is a safe and beautiful and clean place; people are honest and kind. It’s a paradise in so many ways. I live in a ski resort and I was offered opportunities in other places. But, how can I move away from here?
How has this whole journey been to get where you are today?
Both my co-founder and I spent about 20 years each working in tech across the globe. We were involved in many new and innovative projects, and we sold a lot and were successful. But we were both missing the bigger picture of a bigger purpose. I think one day our kids are going to ask us, ¨Hey, you saw that plastic was filling up the oceans, the rainforest was on fire and hey, dad, what did you do about it?¨ I don’t want to tell them I sold more speakers. We are truly trying to change an industry, you know, just like Tesla. They changed the car industry. They forced the car industry to move forward, to move away from gasoline and diesel. We want to help the whole beauty space move away from plastic and harsh ingredients.
Why did you choose these particular types of beauty products to begin with?
We stumbled across the information that every year people throw away 80 billion plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner. That doesn’t make any sense to us. And then I started reading about it and I saw that a bottle of conditioner contains 90% water. Incredible to think we have 90% water in a bottle that lasts 1000 years. And then you ship that all around the world?
We were sure there had to be a better way to do this. When we got interested in this segment, we tested everything we could get our hands on. There were a lot of green products, many that are 100% organic or very much organic, very green, no plastic, but we couldn’t find any that we loved. Many of them are made like soap. You can make a soap and then call it shampoo. It will be super clean and green, but it will never, ever be good for your hair. And that’s what we realized was missing. Not to mention the aroma of the products which were predominantly coconut scented or lemon or super basic.
We found the best suppliers in the south of France, the ones who work with all the luxury brands you can think of, the most famous names. And then we talked to them and we told them this is what we want to do, but we want to do it without harsh ingredients and no plastic. They told us we were the most demanding clients they have ever had to deal with and they should have kicked us out. We told them we want to know where every single ingredient is from. We were the most demanding as well as their smallest customer. Then we said, and by the way, we want to produce everything with 100% renewable energy, which they had never done before. They nearly kicked us out. But in the end, they actually came back and said, ¨what you guys are asking for? It actually makes sense¨. We think that soon enough the big brands will ask for it too. They really liked what we proposed and we have been working as great partners ever since. And they did switch the energy supply for us and they did conduct a ton of research on the ingredients.
How did you choose these particular scents?
The scents were based on what inspires us. So obviously the Alps – I think I came to the Alps for the first time when I was 14. I went skiing with friends when I was 14 on a bus trip once a week. And it was probably the most influential week of my life. It really made me determined to move to the Alps because it was just so stunningly beautiful. So Alpine Glow scent was a pretty obvious choice, and we wanted to give back to protect the Alps.
The Amazonian Amour scent is our love letter to the rainforest. I’ve been doing a lot of hiking in the rainforest and really wild, untouched forests that have never seen an axe before. And it’s just the wildest place. One tree can honestly have 10,000 animals in it, some small, some big. There is just such diversity, and they are literally burning that down. I mean, we have got to be smarter than that.
Alban has been a sailor his whole life, so the Ocean Magic scent was also a natural choice. We both grew up on the water. He was in France on the coast. I was on the Swedish coast. We want to do something and help the oceans.
So it made sense that all the scents were inspired by all the places in the world we wanted to protect and give back to and we were determined and passionate about our products having amazing scents. We worked with perfumers in Grasse to create those scents and collections, and we spent a lot of time on that – specially the ocean magic scent. It took us nine months of iterations to get that scent exactly the way we wanted it. We produced nearly 40 batches, 40 runs or productions to get it right.
I can imagine the practicality of traveling with these products, you can carry them on the plane, and it won’t spill.
Absolutely. You don’t need to put them into that little plastic bag. I went to Amsterdam a while ago, and I had to travel with hand luggage the whole time. And I was bringing extra bars for some customer events. I think I had 60 shampoos on the plane. There’s no water in it so it is great for traveling. We are also coming out with more products for travel.
You mentioned how you give back 20% of proceeds to organizations that help the environment, could you give me an example of one?
One organization we are especially proud to contribute to is Jane Goodall’s cause. We donate 20% of our own Amazonian Amour profits to organizations like hers. She decided to partner with us when she could work with any of the biggest luxury brands that you can think of. But she chose to work with us. We are honored she believes in our company so much. She’s an amazing person that has been doing incredible work for the environment.
Where can I find your products in Switzerland?
You can find our products in Bongénie Grieder in Zurich and in Geneva. You can also find our products in the Azoni – Art of living Boutique in Richterswil. We have politely kept our distance from the big beauty resellers and anyone who doesn’t share our values. We really want to give money back to the planet. So we are extremely selective. You can also order online on our website. The warehouse is actually in Zurich, so it’s super quick with no extra taxes.
Where do you envision Beauty Disrupted to be in five, ten years from now?
I think we’d like people to be able to say – those guys really helped change the beauty industry, they moved it in such a way as to force the giants to get away from plastic and stop using harsh chemicals. Some of them are still doing animal testing. That’s crazy to me! If we can say we really helped bring about a change to the beauty space, I think we will have succeeded at what we set out to do.
Do you have some new products or lines that you are creating at the moment?
It was a long journey to produce the luxurious plastic-free bars, and we have received rave reviews. But there was one missing piece: to properly store the bars and keep them apart, in the shower. So, to ensure conscious consumers have a beauty bar holder that is as luxurious and disruptive as Beauty Disrupted’s products, the brand is launching TRIO, a groundbreaking new storage solution optimized for the company’s body, shampoo, and conditioner bars.
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