Critical Mass: PeaceKeeper Powers Growth Organically

Jody Weiss, chief executive officer of PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics, shakes her head and chuckles when she sees some of the beauty brands jumping on the natural...

NEW YORK — Jody Weiss, chief executive officer of PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics, shakes her head and chuckles when she sees some of the beauty brands jumping on the natural bandwagon.

This story first appeared in the May 16, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“PeaceKeeper was sustainable and philanthropic well before ‘green was the new black,'” said Weiss at the recent WWD Beauty CEO Summit.

And right now in the beauty business, almost every company is seeking a green orientation and a cause to claim as their own. But Weiss can claim bragging rights to doing the right thing in beauty before many marketers even knew the meaning of a carbon footprint. However, she welcomes those also doing good because “it will still have a positive effect on the planet and that is all that matters,” Weiss added.

Weiss founded PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics just after Sept. 11, 2001, and shipped her first products in April 2002 to retailers such as Henri Bendel and select Nordstrom units.

PeaceKeeper is an “all-benefit” company, meaning the firm gives all profits away after the costs of operating the business, taxes, debt repayment, financing costs and transparent working capital to grow are paid. Weiss likes to compare PeaceKeeper in beauty to Paul Newman in salad dressings and other food items.

PeaceKeeper is billed as the first and only color cosmetics company to donate all aftertax profits to women’s health advocacy and urgent human rights issues. PeaceKeeper also gives one half of 1 percent of gross profits to charity each year plus donations from certain stockkeeping units. As an example, the company developed a lip gloss with the United Nations called PeaceKeeper UNIFEM Gloss. A percentage of proceeds goes to the U.N.’s Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

The Eco-Safe line from PeaceKeeper is now sold in 400-plus doors including 110 Whole Foods, Earth Fare, ABC Planet and GNC, and recently the Eco-Smooth nail polish line was added to Wegmans.

The company produces lip gloss, lip paint, nail paint, lip balm and even natural nail polish removers. Additionally, there are clever gift sets available online and in stores.

The 12 Lip Paints were recently reformulated with 75 percent organic ingredients. The Lip Paints were nominated as finalists for Best Lip Product of the Year by Cosmetic Executive Women. On the back of the lipstick carton is an effort called The Million Kisses Campaign where customers apply lipstick to a canvas and send it in with a dollar or more. The money is placed in a fund dedicated to help train poor women in sustainable trades.

The kiss is scanned for the online Kiss Museum, which includes kisses from Bonnie Raitt, Julia Ormond, Daryl Hannah and former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun.

Among the bestsellers are Paint Me Wise Lip Paint with its medium burgundy color; Paint Me Content Lip Paint, which is dusty rose; Paint Me Tranquil, a baby-slipper pink nail polish; Eco-Sensual Lip Balm, and Eternal Equity Lip Gloss, which donates a dollar to women who live on a dollar a day.

One item Weiss is particularly fervent about is Eco-Sensual Balm, a lip product made of natural ingredients. All profits after taxes fund human rights activities. Later this year, the company plans to launch the first USDA-certified Organic lipsticks and glosses. There is even a biodegradable nail polish remover made from fermented sugar beets. This ingredient, along with others, ferments and turns to ethyl lactate to remove polish. Keeping on-trend with the market, PeaceKeeper even features a mineral line. Most prices are in the $12 to $20 range.

PeaceKeeper underwent a rebranding of their line using a design firm that helps tout messages such as, “I love my wrinkles and they love me.” Weiss feels this helps the line stand out with contemporary women looking for good products and the opportunity to do something good at the same time.

Weiss was moved to start the company because she wanted a way to help women help other women simply by choosing a beauty product. She left her job as a sports agent to found the company. Not surprisingly, she encountered many speed bumps along the way, particularly from chemists who said her vision couldn’t be turned into reality. She dug in and learned firsthand how to produce products that she felt were ecologically safe.

Many companies, reacting to consumers, are trying to develop products that don’t further pollute the earth. And, they are also looking for meaningful organizations to donate monies to much like MAC Cosmetics has done with its Viva Glam effort. Market research firm Packaged Facts recently reported that sales of natural and organic personal care products rose from $2 billion in 2002 to over $6 billion in 2006 with expectations to leap even higher when sales are tallied for 2007. The Clorox Co., which made its intent to be more green with the purchase of Burt’s Bees and a new environmentally friendly cleaning line, Green Works, said its research reveals more than half of consumers want to buy eco-friendly and 25 percent will pay more for these types of products.

Weiss might not have the marketing muscle of a Clorox or MAC Cosmetics, but she has the passion. She said, “I believe in this. I meet personally with every charity to make sure they are right for us. I know this is the right direction.”