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Interview with Elemis & Fragrant Earth International

Exclusive Speaker Interview

Ahead of the 2019 Sustainability & Naturals in Cosmetics we caught up with Jan Kuśmirek, Genera Consultancy ltd. from Elemis & Fragrant Earth International, UK to find out more about sustainability opportunities, building brand transparency and industry challenges.

What are some key updates that you will be sharing during you’re an innovative presentation on Day 1?

My main focus will be questioning the basis of the assertion that organic is a better choice for cosmetics. The focus of organic claims relate to raw materials not efficacy or end product. Claims are based upon literature not tests. The future lies in proof of effective delivery of actives and their activity not assumptive traditional claims.

How can we embrace sustainability in the cosmetics industry? What are some key opportunities?

If we sell natural products, we are involved one way or another with the ecology both of the planet and human biome. Therefore, our sources should reflect concern and perhaps force us to consider the alternatives science can offer. This may not just be raw materials but packaging of course as well as the after life of the product.

Sustainability must be the focus at the point of new product development. Market demands often over ride this due to consumer preference i.e. luxury goods. This suggests consumer explanations of brand ethics supported by genuine action or change.

How can brands build transparency and traceability across all their beauty products?

There is a movement of we could describe as Farm to Face. We have seen in the food industry supermarkets providing sub brands indicating fresh from X farm when in fact such is simply a brand. The demand for transparency and traceability is increasing. There is a resurgent interest in wildcrafted materials. Organic standards exist for such as do local or national laws on taking material from the wild.

Independent and small manufacturers invariably buy from extractors, notably from France. Undoubtedly downline the information is available. Some suppliers promote sources which have a relationship to indigenous farmers. This becomes part of the market story but wider information should be available for such basic crops as soya, rapeseed etc.

What are the main challenges for the natural & organic cosmetics industry?

As an undefined word, consumers have seen the degrading of the term natural and to a lesser extent organic. The term natural has a degree of scepticism attached to it. Pure has a different meaning to a chemist than to a consumer. With the rise of bio-engineering and fermented novel materials and fragrances there is a move for GMO’s by the backdoor. Brands have to address points of difference in a cluttered world where fundamental claims of natural may be applied to almost any substance. Next the Natural group has to demonstrate they can as effective as hi tec brands and are more than soap, shampoo, massage oils or cold cream. This was the challenge organic food faced up to.

Could you please share with our audience your thoughts about the experience that you had at our launching event last year in Barcelona, Spain. And, why do you feel it is important for people to attend Sustainability & Naturals in Cosmetics Conference 2019?

The mixture of entrepreneurial brands and established brands and suppliers provided a forum for discussions outside of the usual comfort zones experienced by brands, suppliers and academics. This I found of special value for stimulating new ideas for common problems.