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Originally crafted in Barbara Schiller’s Los Angeles kitchen, Body Conscience products are pure enough to eat — and Schiller is happy to prove it by popping the line’s Nourish body polish in her mouth.
This story first appeared in the September 18, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Nourish polish tastes sugary and has the consistency of damp sand, she said. Instead of salt, the scrub contains fine organic sugar, which Schiller described as a natural antiseptic that doesn’t leave skin dry. Organic cocoa and kokum butter substitute for heavy oils that she decried for making scrubs too oily and showers sloppy.
Schiller, highly allergic to arnica and chamomile and burdened with sensitive skin, was forced to rid the 16-product Body Conscience line of many potentially irritating ingredients out of necessity. It excludes silicone, petrochemicals, parabens, sulfates, synthetic colors and propylene glycol, among other compounds.
“I have looked at almost every brand on the market, and I know what the ingredients are,” said Schiller, who previously created scrub line Melsadis and sold it to Whole Foods. “We are probably one of the most pure products on the market.”
Body Conscience will launch next month at C.O. Bigelow and Apothia at Fred Segal, and industry sources estimate it will generate around $750,000 in first-year sales. “We are handpicking, starting slow and trying to build a brand,” said Body Conscience president Gayle Shulman, who has worked at women’s intimate grooming brand SweetSpot Labs and bath and body brand Get Fresh, of retail distribution.
Body Conscience’s signature 3-Minute Shower Body Polish, intended to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize, is priced at $85 for a 6-oz. set of three bars and $75 for a 9.5-oz. jar, available for refill with a $65 pouch. (Bars are modeled after bullas, creamy Jamaican pastries that Schiller’s mother makes.) Additional products include Body Veil Dry-Oil Spray, at $75 for 7-oz., Wearever Whenever Body Balm, at $65 for a set of three 1.9-oz. balms, and Pedipebbles, at $75 for a set of a dozen 1-oz. pebbles for softening hard skin on feet.
Body Conscience features three scents: renew for all skin types is a white orchid vanilla, nourish for sensitive skin is a mix of champaka, pink peppercorn and neroli, and invigorate for vigorous exfoliation is an earthy amber and black cardamom blend. Nourish is free of nuts. “I love her fragrances,” said Apothia owner Ron Robinson, speaking of Schiller. “I think she has a fragrance there that is good for a guy and good for a girl. The product also feels really good on the skin.”
The three-minute concept for the body polishes is derived from Schiller’s experience during periods of water rationing when a three-minute shower rule was instituted. Body Conscience users can save water by rubbing polishes on their bodies before turning their showers on, which helps ingredients in the polishes soak into skin as well. The brand is emphasizing its connection to water conservation by supporting the organizations Waterkeeper Alliance and 1% for the Planet.
“You actually do spend less time in the shower, and you feel great,” said Robinson. “It [Body Conscience] has that luxury quality to it where it is doing something for you and then you are doing something for the world to better the environment.”
Body Conscience sources from companies that adhere to fair trade practices, an obligation that Shulman said eats into margins. She pointed out that the wooden spoons packed with jars of polish cost Body Conscience $1.50 to buy from a Vermont company compared with about 50 cents to get from China. “We were discouraged along the whole way, including from the cfo,” said Shulman, referring to former chief financial officer Michael Long, who held executive management positions at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, Benetton Cosmetics and L’Oréal prior to Body Conscience. The current cfo is Tina Alvarez.
Schiller and Shulman are convinced that Body Conscience’s responsible business standards will appeal to consumers. “The Body Conscience consumer is probably politically active, knowledgeable about skin care, and [believes] what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it,” said Schiller. “They are savvy and understand.”