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Building a Sustainable Beauty Brand

Marcella Cacci of One Ocean Beauty, Esi Eggleston Bracey of Unilever and Brook Harvey-Taylor of Pacifica Beauty talk sustainability at WWD's Beauty CEO Summit.

Sustainability is more than a hot topic in the beauty industry, it’s what many brands are founded upon.

Marcella Cacci, chief executive officer and founder of One Ocean Beauty, Esi Eggleston Bracey, chief operating officer and executive vice president of beauty and personal care at Unilever North America, and Brook Harvey-Taylor, president and founder of Pacifica Beauty, spoke about the rise of sustainability in beauty and how this topic is at the core of each of their brands.

There’s a “crisis of trust in the world,” Eggleston Bracey said. People are skeptical and sustainability is an important part of building trust between brands and customers. She is also finding that people care about brand activism — that’s what they want to invest their money in.

Unilever, she continued, invests in self-esteem education and has reached 29 million girls through this. The company is championing the Crown Act and cofounded the Crown Coalition to end discrimination based on hair texture.

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Harvey-Taylor started her brand, Pacifica, more than 20 years ago. The products are 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free, which are core to Pacifica’s values — and a major part of how they build their customer base.

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Speaking on sustainability, Harvey-Taylor said, “Brands don’t have the luxury not to embrace this and take a position and stand for these important changes that need to be made.”

Pacifica started its own recycling program, which takes back their number-five plastics and sends them to Preserve Shave Five, which then uses the plastics to create other products that they sell. Harvey-Taylor has seen a “burst” in people using this program in the last six months.

Harvey-Taylor recommends that brands have a list of ingredients that they won’t use. “I’ve been fired by fillers because of my no list,” she said.

“Purpose-driven companies are where the world is going,” Cacci said. Her newly launched brand, One Ocean Beauty, uses biotechnology to create formulas that incorporate marine ingredients without harvesting from the oceans. All of One Ocean Beauty’s packaging is 100 percent recyclable, which Cacci said was a struggle to find.

“It was so hard to find recyclable packaging,” Cacci said. “That’s a void right now. There’s more demand, hopefully that will push technology.”

On how to know whether glass or plastic is more sustainable, Cacci said, “There’s no silver bullet. Glass has its issues, plastic has its issues.…The fact that there’s only two types of containers in this industry is incredible to me. The fact we haven’t come up with biodegradable containers.”