SBTRCT was founded on one guiding principle: less is more. With waterless formulas and compostable packaging, they're on a mission to combat some of the beauty industry's biggest issues.
We chatted to Ben about launching his business, the core values of SBTRCT and the ways in which we can all live a little more sustainably.
Tell us a bit about your background and how the idea behind SBTRCT came about.
Having sold the previous skincare venture I was involved with a few years ago, I took some time off to reevaluate my life and figure out what I wanted to do next.
I’m naturally frugal and I hate waste. During my time off, I wasn’t earning so of course I bought less and started to focus more on what really mattered to me. Surprisingly, I found myself happier and more content. Whatever I did next, I wanted to integrate this ethos into what I created.
I found I was still really passionate about skincare and it frustrated me that the beauty industry in general has been slow to evolve when it comes to making sustainable, high performance skincare. I believe our industry faces three key environmental challenges: plastic pollution, water scarcity (up to 70% of traditional creams and lotions can be water) and an over reliance on palm oil.
The desire to combat these challenges and create high-performing, sustainable, skincare products is what brought me to developing solid state products.
This, combined with my newly found ethos on the world, became the genesis of SBTRCT. I make sure this approach influences everything we do, that’s why our guiding principle is simply; less is more.
You launched SBTRCT in the midst of 2020 – did the pandemic have any positive or negative impact on the business?
Building a business during a tough time arguably builds one that is more resilient for the future. With something as significant as a global pandemic, where we’re guaranteed to experience turmoil, also guarantees one thing; that we’re also on the precipice of a change.
COVID has accelerated the evolution of people’s attitudes toward health and the environment. We all became open to new solutions, innovation and change.
Specifically for SBTRCT, COVID has only magnified the importance of self care, slowing down, wellness and beauty at home. During such uncertainty, affordable luxuries such as skincare can really make a difference to your wellbeing. So as well as some obvious negatives, I was able to see the evolving opportunities.
What’s been your proudest moment so far, and what have you enjoyed the most?
Launching the SBTRCT Rejuvenating Night Balm, the world’s first solid state Retinoid balm has been a real highlight!
Creating something so innovative was always one of my ambitions for the business and to be able to do that so quickly and effectively with this product is something I’m truly proud of. The feedback from our customers has been fantastic.
Is there anything you would have done differently, or any lessons you’ve learned that you can share with someone looking to start their own business?
Don’t wait. If you have an idea you believe in, just do it.
It took me a while to be truly comfortable with the risks involved in starting my own business. It was only when I realised that putting yourself in a place where you might fail, is actually putting yourself in the same place where you might succeed.
It’s a nuance but once you start thinking that way, it really helps you be more courageous.
Seeing how well SBTRCT has been received, I wish I had got to that place a little sooner! But the experience has taught me to trust my instincts and act.
The brand is founded on some really inspiring ideas – tell us a bit more about the concept of SBTRCTivism.
We call our approach SBTRCTivism: because frankly, we think it’s a little bit ironic that an industry created to cleanse and care is making our planet a dirty place – and we want to help clean things up.
We set out to create beautiful and high-performing products for people who want to make a difference without compromising on having great skin or great design.
The SBTRCT concept proves you can have everything your skin needs; without the waste the planet doesn’t. All of our solid skincare is plastic free, palm oil free, cruelty free, is suitable for vegans and uses less than 0.5% water.
What’s your number one tip for those trying to live a more sustainable life?
Focus on doing lots of little things that cumulatively make a big difference. Try to be more conscious about what you consume and how much waste you generate.
You’ve achieved so much in the last year, what can we expect to see from SBTRCT in the coming year?
We’re so excited about the next phase of SBTRCT. We have been working on more innovations and industry-first formulations which will be released over the next 12 months. We can’t wait to share them.
Finally, a quick fire round:
- Favourite travel destination? Everywhere and anywhere. Discovering new places and cultures is something close to my heart.
- The best meal you’ve had? Sat by the sea enjoying fresh fish with my family on our most recent trip to Croatia.
- Your top repeat purchase? Lemon, ginger and manuka honey tea. It has helped to reduce my caffeine intake.
- Dream dinner party guest? My late grandfather. He had such an incredible life and lived to the age of 107. He was the font of all knowledge and I would love to spend more time with him.
- Favourite book? Wabi Sabi, Japanese Wisdom For A Perfectly Imperfect Life, by Beth Kempton. Beth is a friend of mine and her words are incredible. You can find a passage from the book about “Less is More” on the compostable cartons that our products are packed in.
- Skincare product you can’t live without? SBTRCT Gentle Foaming Cleanser. It is “the one”.
- Your desert island luxury item? My surfboard (assuming there’s a good swell).