Listen up, my fellow natural beauty fans!
There's a new place online where we can buy our beloved natural beauty products, and you need to get acquainted.
The site is called Petal & Post, and the woman behind it is Toronto-based entrepreneur Jamie MacLean, who you're going to meet today.
Now, Petal & Post isn't your average online shop. Go on, click over, and you'll be drawn into the most amazing eco-luxury shopping experience, featuring dozens of hard-to-find niche products, plus ethical ingredient information and brand videos. Talk about a green beauty fanatic's dream come true!
Jamie's mission? To bring us the safest and most high-quality, high-performing products that haven't been available in Canada or the US—until now. (Petal & Post ships worldwide, FYI.)
Petal & Post launched earlier this year, but I asked Jamie to share the story of how she got started as a green beauty entrepreneur, plus some of her top picks.
What’s your background?
My background is in shopping centre marketing, which is a real departure from what I'm doing now. I did it for 18 years and worked for a major corporation. I loved it; it was a great job and super-fun. But I felt like it didn’t reflect my lifestyle or really align with my values. I always knew that when I had my first baby and went on mat leave, I would take that time to start my own business. Silly me, I thought I’d have lots of time! But somehow, I managed to pull it off when I had my son, Liam, last year.
How did you get interested in green products?
It wasn’t until I was into my pregnancy and started looking at the products I was using, not just my diet. Throughout my 30s, I always tried to eat healthy and organic, and that was just part of my lifestyle. I was even macrobiotic for a while, and my good friend is vegan. It really became a part of who I was. So when I was pregnant, it evolved from there. You become hypersensitive and hyperaware when you're pregnant. I started questioning everything—not just what I was consuming, but what I was applying on my skin and surrounding myself with.
Then I started asking questions. As soon as you start to scratch the surface on ingredients, it’s horrifying what you find out. I was hungry for information and needed to know more and more about what was going on in the state of our world, and what was happening in the beauty industry. I was also acquiring a lot of newborn items, and questioning all that plastic stuff.
Did you have an "aha!" moment when you got the idea for Petal & Post?
We took a really nice babymoon to Italy for three weeks, and the book I took with me was called, There's Lead in Your Lipstick: Toxins In Our Everyday Body Care And How To Avoid Them by Gillian Deacon. I was like, "Yes! THIS is what I need to get into!" Something has to be done about bringing more awareness to these issues in Canada, and tapping into these green products out there. When I was in shopping centre marketing, we were losing ground to e-commerce, and it was a constant threat. So I knew online shopping was the way of the future.
Why did you decide to focus on luxury organics, not just green beauty products in general?
I shop in my local natural food store, but I've always been one to enjoy the experience that comes with a luxury beauty product. Sure, you can go to your neighbourhood store and buy products, but it's hard to find beautifully packaged, high-performing luxury green products. I found myself constantly having to ship them in from the UK and Australia, because they weren't available in Canada. So I definitely got into this business because I wanted access to these products! I'm passionate about using my retail experience to bring these collections to Canada through Petal & Post.
What's behind the name Petal & Post?
Petal speaks to all of the plant-based products I carry. Post is how you get the product; I'm an e-commerce business. The combination works beautifully.
What's the case for using eco-luxe products instead of synthetic ones?
The whole green beauty movement has really come a long way around the world. There are now incredibly beautiful yet high-performing, potent products on the market. That’s what Petal & Post strives to bring to Canadians. We're even introducing a few lines that aren't available in the US, such as Safeas Organic Beauty from Germany. That's just one of many beautiful collections out there that is now accessible to those in North America.
And they work. That’s the most important part. There is pretty stuff out there, but if it's not going to perform at the same level as the traditional synthetic version, then you're never going to win a customer over and bridge them to the green beauty world. They'll just fall back into a harmful old habit. But if you can get everything that you're looking for with a green product, including that luxury experience, then there's no reason not to switch.
What are the most harmful ingredients in synthetic products?
The most disturbing part of my research was finding that a number of ingredients that have been banned in Europe over a decade ago are still readily used in many products in North America. That makes me angry and frustrated with our government. A lot of people think the government has a very strict hold on this stuff and that they have your back, but it’s really up to the consumer.
Knowing the ingredients is really the hardest part. When you're shopping and you don’t know what any of it means, then you're going to remain lost and will continue to spend your hard-earned money on products that aren't necessarily safe for you and for the environment.
Which ingredients are safe?
On the flip side, we have a safe ingredients glossary. There are lots of good ingredients that have funny names, that look like synthetic chemicals but are in fact plant-based. Our cosmetic labelling laws require that the scientific name or Latin term be used rather than the common term.
How do you avoid being duped by "greenwashing"?
What really frustrates me is the number of posers—brands that are posing as natural or organic, but they aren't at all. I'm deeply disappointed by companies in the natural care space that trick consumers with misleading packaging on products that are not natural in formation and are not organic. They're everywhere now because that is the trend, and a lot of consumers are being fooled.
An easy way to figure out who is a poser and who is not is to look for a couple of ingredients—if they're in there, then it's a sure thing that the company is not who they claim. The ingredients are sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) and phenoxyethanol. Those ingredients should not be in any product claiming to be green.
What are your favourite green beauty products?
Of course, I use them all and they’re all my favourites. That’s the fun part of my company!
I love a good face scrub. I'm the type of person where after I clean my face, I love to be squeaky clean. I'm in love with the Primavera Revitalizing Face Scrub. It’s amazing. That one is a huge hit for me.
I've tried all of the natural deodorants out there, and Leaves of Trees works for me. They have two: Lavender Tangerine, which is more feminine, and Eucalyptus Mint, which is more gender-neutral. People love it. I've even converted my husband—he uses it and it works, even in the summertime. I can't keep this stuff in stock!
Studio 78 Paris We Oxygenize Chameleon Foundation is the only natural foundation I can find that has really good coverage—a medium to high coverage. It's great for evenings when you're going out and really want to put your makeup on. Lily Lolo BB Cream is great for daytime; it's very light.
Vitruvi is a new line we just launched, and everything is amazing and beautiful. I'm addicted to the Focus Aromatherapy Oil. I keep it in my desk and the idea is in the afternoon, when you fall into the slump, you rub it on your pulse points and wrists, and it perks you back up. I swear it does the job. It helps you re-focus.
Is there a green beauty product that you wish existed, but doesn't (yet)?
Lip liner is really difficult to find. There are beautiful green cosmetic lines out there, but it's this gaping hole that needs to be filled. Lip liner is really hard to find in the green beauty realm.
Is there anything synthetic that you still use?
I think I've been able to transition everything to green—even nail polish remover. RGB Nail Color Remover Pads are amazing, and I don't think enough people are aware of them. They're soy-based, and every time I use one, I can't believe what a good job it does. It doesn't dry out your nails and it softens your cuticles. There's nothing harmful in there, which is pretty outstanding for a nail polish remover. I don't think there's enough of that kind of thing on the market.
Do you have any tips for transitioning to a green beauty routine?
Use the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep app or website to check the ingredients in your products. Go through your bathroom cabinet, pull out your favourite skincare items, toothpaste, etc., and look it all up. Almost every beauty product is in there—their database is incredible.
Green beauty products are more expensive—are they worth it?
There is no doubt that these collections are more pricey than the nearest synthetic counterpart. But you have to understand that the quality of the ingredients in each of those bottles is outstanding, and by far superior to any synthetic product in any drugstore. There's no comparison. If you go to trouble of building a product into your routine, then you want it to deliver maximum results, and be as potent as possible. It's like eating at McDonald's—just because it's one of cheapest food sources out there, doesn't mean it's good for you. What you're feeding your skin is the same thing. It all goes into our system. So you just need to be just aware of the quality.
What's next for the green beauty industry?
It's a really exciting time to be able to offer truly authentic, natural products. Consumers are catching up and catching on, and there's more and more interest and demand in the marketplace. It's exciting to see new green brands pop up, and thrilling to get calls from companies that are in the development stage and want to be sold in the future at Petal & Post. They ask for my guidance on how to get their products to that level. I work with more than 50 brands all around the world, so I can give them that information.
It's not just beauty. The baby and home cleaning worlds are evolving, too. We have beautiful home cleaning products in the store as well that are actually hot, hot sellers. Anyone interested in skincare is also conscious about what they clean their house with.
What's the best thing about being an eco beauty entrepreneur?
I think the most rewarding part of the whole experience has been inspiring regular Canadians. Well, we ship all over the world, and we have half Canadian customers and half U.S. I get these emails from people who are getting into the green beauty scene for the first time, and just love the information on the Petal & Post website.
On many store websites, they kind of hide the brands and don't really profile the brands themselves. To me, the brand is everything—Petal & Post is just the gateway to connect with them and their world, and the hard work they are doing. It's really about the customer discovering these brands that are out there and that they had no clue existed.
It's so rewarding to see these customers come back and thank me for enlightening and changing their lives. Once you start to learn about this world and what’s really going on, it's a game changer. It changes your life.
What special offers do you have for Beautyeditor readers?
We're giving Beautyeditor readers the chance to win a $100 gift card to spend on merchandise at Petal & Post!
Update: This giveaway is now closed.
For a chance to win the $100 Petal & Post gift card, all you have to do is:
- Leave a comment below, including your name plus the city, province/state and country where you live. (Yes, this contest is open to international readers, not just Canadians.)
- Tell us what your favourite green beauty products are!
The deadline for entries is midnight EST on Monday, July 27th, 2015. One winner will be chosen via random selection, and notified via a reply comment shortly thereafter. Please find additional giveaway rules and regulations here.
We can't wait to hear what you think of Petal & Post!