A Coffee With Two B Corp Founders Meet the Founder
In recognition of B Corp Month this March, we sat down with two brand founders (whose businesses are B Corp Certified), Irene Forte and Jules Miller (founder of The Nue Co.), to chat about the importance of the certification and why the industry needs to take a more sustainable approach to beauty.
Why was it important that the brand achieved B Corp Certification?
“At Irene Forte, we built sustainability into our company’s DNA from its inception; it was not simply an afterthought, and we consider environmental and social impact with every decision we take. This is why I felt it was important to achieve B Corp status.” – Irene Forte
“B Corp is the most rigorous and highest possible certification of doing business in a better way. Becoming a certified B Corp was always the aim for us as it’s well recognised by consumers and is a real mark of trust.” – Jules Miller, The Nue Co.
How did it come about and what does it mean to the brand?
“We decided to go through the certification process to give a 'seal of approval' to what we were doing in terms of sustainability. The B Impact Assessment examines a company's impact on their workers, community, environment, and customers – and a minimum score of 80 is required before the questions can be submitted for an analyst for review. The whole process took about six months.
We earned an overall score of 99.5, significantly above the median completion score of 50.9 and the pass threshold of 80. I’m proud of our B Corporation Certification as it proves that we have taken and will continue to take the necessary steps to be a truly sustainable and responsible brand; not just for our customers but also for our entire workforce. It was a rigorous process, however, one that was extremely important to us.” – Irene Forte
Have you had any major challenges adopting or maintaining certain green policies, and how have you overcome this?
“We haven’t faced any major challenges in adopting or maintaining ‘green’ policies, I believe this is down to a number of reasons. Primarily, it’s because we haven’t been pushing a ‘green agenda’, the business wide commitments – i.e. membership to 1% for the Planet – we have made fit into our overarching mission as a brand. Additionally, we have gradually scaled these partners and programs in a way that feels manageable and most importantly is authentic.” – Jules Miller
“It is not so much about specific challenges, but more of a general challenge. Making operations more sustainable and developing ‘green’ products is more expensive, and doesn’t necessarily mean that you can charge more for your products. It adds costs and doesn’t necessarily deliver financial benefit.” – Irene Forte
How do you balance luxury with sustainability?
"We were one of the first beauty brands to do ‘sustainable luxury’. We really wanted to create luxurious products with truly sustainable packaging, 100% made in Italy, that didn't skimp on price, and achieved control on provenance and quality from farm to formula.” – Irene Forte
Do you think the beauty industry is becoming more eco-conscious, and what more can be done?
“Absolutely, and there are some brands driving real change and innovation. However, alongside those changemakers we are seeing an enormous spike in greenwashing, so much so that the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) are now reviewing and calling out greenwashing claims within brand advertising.” – Jules Millers
“While it’s great seeing many brands becoming more eco-conscious, there is of course still a lot to be done. The cosmetic industry is the biggest user and waster of single-use plastic. 'Zero Waste' reported that more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry, most of which are not recyclable. We are minimising our contribution to the crisis by maximising the use of sustainable packaging, and other brands should do the same given that there are now so many green alternatives when it comes to packaging.
I want to encourage brands to sign up to be carbon neutral (or even negative) by 2030. We're calculating and tracking our carbon footprint, and the next step will be to implement a carbon reduction programme; Plus, we plant hundreds of trees/ plants at our organic farm per year.
The most important thing to remember is that sustainability is a journey, and hence one is never fully sustainable. Brands must continue to want to improve and develop new initiatives.”
What is the future vision of the brand – do you have long term goals or immediate priorities you’re working to achieve?
“The mission we are continually working towards is improving the health of humanity. We want that to be the lasting legacy The Nue Co. leaves behind. We have some exciting launches, announcements and partnerships coming up this year, so watch this space!” – Jules Miller
“Our growth in the last three years has exceeded my expectations and I am thrilled that Irene Forte Skincare has been so well-received. My focus this year is to build on our growing momentum and to continue expanding across the US and Europe. My goal is for Irene Forte Skincare to be recognised as the natural brand that is performance proven, while keeping sustainability at its heart.” – Irene Forte
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