Gregg Renfrew – Clean Beauty Pioneer and Founder and CEO of Beautycounter
Kara Goldin: Hi everybody. It’s Kara Goldin from Unstoppable and I’m so excited to have our next guest here who is, I mean… Super, super fan of this woman, Gregg Renfrew. Welcome.
Gregg Renfrew: Thank you for having me.
Kara Goldin: Gregg is the founder and CEO of Beauty Counter and I can’t imagine that you don’t know what Beauty Counter is, but in case you do not know what Beauty Counter is and who Gregg Renfrew is, I’m going to tell you a little bit about her.
She pioneered the clean beauty industry, as we know it today. She founded a company called Beautycounter.com, a clean beauty brand dedicated to getting safer personal care and beauty products into the hands of everyone. She’s an advocate for more federal regulation and around clean beauty, specifically for the FDA to ban the use of harmful ingredients. We’ll get into that a little bit. Gregg’s push for stronger cosmetic safety laws is providing lots and lots of consultants, 50,000 now, is that right?
Gregg Renfrew: Yes, we have 50,000 women and men across North America right now helping us build our business and consultancy efforts.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, that’s so amazing. And mostly women, which is also amazing with the opportunity to be business owners and activists. As I mentioned to her, that I have a very good friend of mine, who’s one of her consultants down in Texas and she just loves everything about Beautycounter, is a huge advocate for you guys and you.
So, Gregg has spoken at Vanity Fair’s Founder’s Fair and Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit, as well. As well as many of the top business schools. And on today’s show, we’re going to dive into her unique point of view as a mission driven, purpose driven, which as you all know is really what we love to cover and really highlight on the show. So welcome, Gregg.
Gregg Renfrew: Thanks for having me, I’m thrilled to be here.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, super, super excited. So, we’ll just jump right in. So you’ve pioneered the clean beauty industry with Beautycounter. Take us back a few years, what inspired you to do this?
Gregg Renfrew: It started actually quite a few years ago. In 2006, I watched An Inconvenient Truth and became very passionate with the environmental health movement. And subsequent to that over the next couple of years, I was living in New York City, new mom and was watching all of these friends of mine, giving birth to kids with significant health issues, struggling with fertility issues, being diagnosed with different types of cancer… And I was trying to figure out how to connect the dots between what was wrong with the earth and what was wrong with human health and one of the things that I could point to was our exposure to toxic chemicals.
And so, I sort of made all these sweeping changes in my life. I was able to switch from plastic to glass and start washing my floors with water and vinegar or switch to safer cleaning brands. But when it came to skincare and cosmetics, there just weren’t any products that met my new high standards. They were great products for mass markets of luxury that were on-trend, and aspirational and chic, and works really well, but they were filled with toxic chemicals. Then there were these very small niche, or these brands that didn’t really meet my needs from a performance standpoint.
So I started Beautycounter because I thought there’s an opportunity to change an industry, to create products that everyone told me would be impossible to make, that were high performing and significantly safer. That’s what we set out to do and launched seven years ago doing just that.
Kara Goldin: So seven years ago was when you started it. So you were in New York at the time when you launched it?
Gregg Renfrew: No, I was in New York in spring of 2008, I was transferred to Los Angeles with my husband’s job and we’d launched in March of ’13, but I started concepting it in late 2010, early 2011. So it took us two years to bring the product to market because, of course, there were no products that I could use. I thought, originally, I was naive in thinking, oh I’ll take base formulas of other brands or just mix a few ingredients but that’s actually not what happened. We had to start everything from scratch in just a couple of years.
Kara Goldin: So were you, like me, making it in your kitchen and your house initially and sort of putting it together?
Gregg Renfrew: No, I never did that. Honestly I didn’t come from the beauty industry, and because you know through sunscreen, but it’s pretty complicated to figure out how to make a high-performance tinted moisturizer or an age-defying solution so I partnered early on with a woman named Christy Coleman, well in advance of our launch. And she was really the first true makeup artist to go green. And we started working with independent chemists and labs to try to formulate these products and if I’d been formulating them, there would be no one who’d ever use them and the company probably would have been bankrupt immediately because it’s not my skillset. But I did start it with an idea at my kitchen table just like I’m sure [inaudible 00:04:52].
Kara Goldin: That’s awesome. And so you mentioned there that you weren’t in the beauty industry. So what were you doing before this?
Gregg Renfrew: Well, I’ve been entrepreneurial most of my life. And I think that the primary focus of my career, this common thread, has been in sort of sales and marketing and business development, focus in finance. I started by selling Xerox copiers back in the day and it’s interesting because there’s a film out right now, or a series out, called an Orthodox and it is [crosstalk 00:05:21].
Kara Goldin: I love it, yeah. [crosstalk 00:05:23] It’s coming back actually.
Gregg Renfrew: Oh, good. I hope it does because I loved it. But I actually served that community. I was the Orthodox Jewish community that… Well we lived in Williamsburg but I actually worked on the West side of New York City, in the jewelry district, and I had to sell to these men. And most of [inaudible 00:05:41] all men. And so I’ve always sort of been in business, going out there, putting myself out there to sell product. Years later, I founded a company called The Wedding List, which I sold to Martha Stewart and continued on my entrepreneurial endeavors ultimately getting to where I started Beautycounter. Lots of jumps along the way, some successes, some failures for sure.
Kara Goldin: Did you know that Beyoncé’s dad sold Xerox copiers too?
Gregg Renfrew: No, I did not!
Kara Goldin: We met with him probably 12 years ago when we started. I mean, we started our company going on 15 years this month, but we had met with him and it was just… He sold Xerox copiers for years. And while Beyoncé was young and trying to be a singer, he was selling Xerox copiers. And he was the number one salesperson in Houston and it was like… I know, he told me that the best business people actually sold Xerox copiers and I was like, is that right?
Gregg Renfrew: They did. I went to Xerox because I felt it had the best sales training program in the United States at the time. And actually the other person that’s of note that was a Xerox salesperson and icon, and coincidentally had the same district that I did, is Howard Schultz. And I met him once and I subsequently emailed him to say, you and I shared the same district and so hopefully Beautycounter will be as big as Starbucks someday.
Kara Goldin: I love it. That’s so great. So I love the fact though that you didn’t have any experience in an industry. Because I hear this. I didn’t have any beverage experience either, but it really was this white space that you saw that was this problem and you wanted to go out and solve it.
I mean, what do you think is the… I feel like you talked about mission-based brand, purpose based brands. What do you think is kind of… How do you do that? How do you even start it? If somebody is… I always think about this from the perspective of somebody wanting to go start a business, but also how do you… You have teenagers, as well, how do you get them to be trained to think this way and go out and take risks and go and do the next Beautycounter or Hint or… What do you think about that.
Gregg Renfrew: It’s a good question. I think that, for me, it was a couple of things. I think that from a very early age, my parents gave me one incredible gift which was the gift of confidence to say… They always said to me, both my mother and father, that you can be anything you want to be, Gregg, in life. You can achieve anything you want to.
It’s going to take an incredible amount of hard work, but don’t doubt that you can do it. You can, just have to work your butt off. And I think that I’ve tried to instill that confidence in my children and say, look, it’s going to be really, really hard, but if you see an idea and you believe in something, I want you to pursue it. I also think that faced with the necessity of making money… One of the things my parents did which I hated at the time, but they… Well, first of all, they always made me work, from when I was 11 years old on and my parents had come from relatively well positioned families so my dad and my parents got divorced. My dad ended up losing all of our money and my mother was a two year college person. She had gone to a two year college women’s college and had really not been working and was forced to figure out a way to earn an income, to support our family in the manner that she wanted us to be raised, and to create a lifestyle for us.
And so I watched my mother doing that her whole life and she would buy properties on the fringe of neighborhoods and put money into them and then sell them for profit. And we would live off of that and move on from there. And so I think that I always had to work. I always wanted to work and I was always looking for opportunities to work in a way that fit my lifestyle.
And so for me, I think when you think about people considering an entrepreneurial endeavor, one, do you need to work? Do you want to work, do you have that passion, grit, and determination, and where do you see things as a consumer that aren’t available to you that you think you could bring into the market?
I think that’s what you did and that’s what I did which is you see an unmet need and you want to pursue it with passion and persistence. And people always say, well did you think about starting Beauty counter or Hint? When you think about it, you’re probably just taking it one day at a time, one step at a time. You’re not thinking I’m going to start this big company. You’re thinking, I have an idea and I’m going to pursue it along the way. And I think oftentimes people get stuck. They stop in their tracks because they get overwhelmed by the longterm goal, as opposed to just focusing on the steps that get you there. If that makes sense.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. No, I worry, actually, when I talk to entrepreneurs and they say we’re going to build this company and it’s going to get sold in a couple of years and it’s because of XYZ. I always say, it’s one thing to have a plan together. Maybe if you’re going to go look for venture money or private equity or whatever your plan is like that. But if your purpose is actually to go flip this and a couple of years, it’s like the concept of saying, I just want to be rich.
Gregg Renfrew: So wrong!
Kara Goldin: Yeah, right? And it’s just along the way. And I think that it starts with you just plucking away all the time at this.
As you and I were talking about, I have a book coming out in October and I remember this one guy, Josh Dorf, he runs a company called Stone-Buhr Flower, that it was the first organic whole wheat flour company. Friend of a friend and I was talking to him about starting this company Hint and he said just remember one thing, he said, you’ll get into Whole Foods eventually and then you have to give yourself a pat on the back and keep moving. Right? Keep going and keep going. And he said, this is pick and shovel work. And I was writing down pick and shovel work and I was like, what do you mean? And he was like, it’s just, you got to celebrate the wins, but you got to keep going. You got to keep picking and find new challenges for yourself and keep growing. And I still think back on that all the time. And you’ve done that as well. You’re constantly innovating and creating which I really, really admire.
Gregg Renfrew: I think you’re right. And I always say overnight success is a decade of your life 24/7. That’s truly what overnight success looks like. And people think you just snap your fingers and this brand explodes and yes, through technology there have been technological advances that have helped people reach more people faster. But the reality is that there’s nothing that replaces commitment and persistence and just hard work. And it is really hard to build a business and to build a brand and people say what does a good day look like? And I’m always like, a good day is a day when I don’t make as many mistakes as I did the day before. Because at the end of the day, you’re-
Kara Goldin: I love that.
Gregg Renfrew: That’s a good day. And I think that oftentimes people, to your point earlier, they’re building a flash-in-the-pan business. They’re building to go public or sell. If you’re really wanting to get rich, [inaudible 00:12:57] you should really go work on Wall Street because that’s the fastest way to get rich.
If you want to build a business or a brand, you should just recognize the fact that it’s going to take time and you have to genuinely care about the work that you do. You have to believe it’s important because you won’t get up on those mornings, those many, many mornings when everything’s going wrong and you’re exhausted. It’s an incredibly difficult job to be an entrepreneur. Rewarding but hard.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, absolutely. So how did you decide… You talked about your 50,000 Beautycounter consultants, which is amazing. You’re giving that all these people jobs and roles and ways to make money, how did you decide to do that? What was the moment where you said, this is the way that this business will actually run?
Gregg Renfrew: It’s interesting. So I said earlier, I didn’t come from beauty but I did have a background. The last full-time job I had before Beautycounter was I was running a company called Best In Company, which is a very high-end children’s clothing company that was owned by Tommy and Susie Hilfiger at the time and I was selling within Neiman Marcus and Bergdorfs. And I was watching the department store chain starting to wane, if not, I just knew that they were over, that their time had come and this was about to pass.
And I knew that all the beauty products were primarily distributed through department stores. And I knew that on a macro level, the world was going direct-to-consumer. This gig economy was emerging, you were seeing brands start to merge that came out the last recession in 2008/2009 that were more digitally-focused. And I also was thinking about the fact that clean beauty was not a thing. There was no word “clean beauty” when we started, it was still green and it was still… And I can’t prove we coined the phrase but I really believe that we did because I remember saying no, because that’s still pigeon holes you by calling it green. We want to make it commercially viable for everyone, we want to reach everyone.
And I started to think about the fact that the department store and all stores, whether they’re drug stores, department stores, the distribution channels were dominated by the incumbants, by all the brands that everyone had grown up with and they didn’t want the story of clean to get out there. That was not a story that they wanted to be told.
But knowing how powerful they were, I thought [inaudible 00:15:07] create an underground movement, and we need to be able to tell the story person-to-person, whether that happens digitally or physically. And a friend said, have you considered direct sales to which I was like, hell no. All I thought about were those companies that over-promised and under-delivered said, oh, spend 500 and I’ll show you the big 5,000 and I’m like no, it’s a job like any other, it’s hard work.
But I love the idea of mobilizing a group of committed women and men to create a movement, to make the world safer and healthier for all. And when I realized that we could do this through people, I became really, really excited like that. It was like a light bulb went off. That said, I also knew that we had to have multiple channels because I knew today’s consumer, they don’t want to be dictated to. They don’t want to be told how they’re going to shop your brand. So we, from the beginning, had Beautycounter.com, we had our network of independent consultants building businesses on our platform, and we had retail partnerships and, ultimately, we’ve had a few of our own stores. And I think that ecosystem has allowed us to build a real brand and also to build business opportunities for women and men across North America. Which I’ve loved. It’s been amazing.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. That’s amazing. So we’re recording this actually during COVID and shelter-in-place, and we’re both in our houses now. What do you think is… How has this time been for you and your company overall? And I mean, obviously you’re not relying on retail stores that are closed. Right? And so that I think is probably puts you into a better position than maybe many other cosmetics companies that didn’t look so seriously at online, or… But I’d be curious to hear kind of how you’re thinking about it.
Gregg Renfrew: Yeah. Well, thanks for asking. And I think, look, it’s an incredibly challenging time for everyone in every way that we know. I always think about servant leadership with our people, but as a company, how do we serve our communities? And I think that from day one, Beautycounter has been really focused on three things. One, health and safety of families. Full stop. That’s the only reason I started the company. We’ve always been focused on community, our independent consultants, not only is it the 50,000 of them, but it’s all the people that they serve. And they’ve been supportive to one another, not just through business, but just as people. I think women tend to band together if they can find common ground. And I’ve just heard more stories about the way in which they’ve reached out and supported one another in times of need and sickness and other things.
And then I think the third thing is that we’ve always focused on creating economic opportunities and stability for families. And so right now, I think that we’re in a fortunate position in that we can serve communities right now, we do have a product that is not distributed primarily through wholesale so we are able to continue our business.
Look, we’ve taken a hit like everyone has, but we do have consumable products and skincare and shampoo and body wash, et cetera, that people are still using. And we have a business opportunity and we’ve seen so many people join our business over the last six weeks who’ve either been furloughed or they’ve lost their jobs or their spouse or partner’s lost their jobs. And I feel very thankful that we’ve been able to create a platform upon which people can, even if it’s just a short-term three month thing, they can become independent consultant and start to earn if they choose to work at that business. And that makes me feel proud of our company because people are in need of jobs right now, honestly, and they’re needing to replace income. And while it’s not easy, it is possible to do this with Beautycounter and do it from the safety and comfort of your home on calls like this or on their social channels. And so it’s been great.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. I think you guys are super well-positioned for this time too. And I think it’s… I feel like, I mean, for our business, we’re an essential product, so it’s definitely been okay for us in that we’re in stores like the Targets and we’re actually going into Costco and some others coming up in the next few weeks. But being an essential product, I think, in these stores has been, I mean, grocery stores, which are open, so that’s been fine. But our direct-to-consumer business has just been crazy because people are sitting at home. And the key thing that we’re hearing from consumers is that their focus on health is that much more. And I think it’s products like yours, products like ours, that I don’t think are going to go away.
I think everybody knows somebody who’s had Corona. And I think that you sort of have this, at least I do, have this idea in my head, like why do some people get it? Some people in the same house? Some people show signs, some people don’t. And I think that there’s an overlying arch for everybody that says, I’ve just got to stay healthy, right? With everything. And I think it’s the fact that you allow people to order online and if businesses aren’t open, or if they’re opening slower, that you guys are in a great spot. So…
Gregg Renfrew: It’s interesting you said that because I think that when you’re talking about COVID, I think that one of the things I’ve said all along to people is, sometimes people say, well, why does clean matter? And they’ll say, well, my mother smoked a pack of cigarettes her whole life and it was fine and lived until 95. I mean, you hear those stories all the time. And I do know, and you know, that our exposure to toxic chemicals, whether they come in a drink, food dye… I mean, our exposure to these chemicals of concern are wrecking havoc on our endocrine systems. They’re wreaking havoc on our bodies.
And so, in an effort to protect our greatest asset, which is our health, I do think that people are increasingly looking to brands that are clean, whether that’s in the food industry, whether that’s in the personal care and cosmetic industry. And I think the other thing that they’re looking for, and I think you and I share this, is they’re looking for authenticity. They’re looking for no bullshit, honest, transparent, candid conversations between themselves and the brands that they support.
I think that’s important, right?
Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, I absolutely do as well. And I feel like the other thing that you really speak to as well is that you have the backup. You are constantly educated about these issues as well. And you’re constantly searching for more and more information too. And you know, that’s not only in your everyday business, but talk a little bit about what you’ve done in Washington because I think it’s super admirable.
Gregg Renfrew: Well, thank you. I appreciate it. I think when I started Beautycounter, I always said that we set out to get safer products into the hands of everyone. That has been our mission. The mission is not to get Beautycounter products into the hands of everyone. I know for a variety of reasons, we’re not accessible to everyone whether we’re not financially accessible to some or whether we’re not physically in front of them and others. One brand can’t reach everyone. I mean, maybe Starbucks but in general, they can’t.
And so we really felt that in the absence of cosmetic reform, the absence of more health protective legislation in this industry, all Americans would still be unnecessarily subjected to toxic chemical exposure in their day-to-day life through their personal care and cosmetic products. And so knowing that, a couple of things, that many people listening may not know, we haven’t updated a major federal law governing our industry since 1938. It’s been 82 years. And since then, over 85,000 chemicals have been introduced into Congress about 10,000-12,000 which are used in personal care products.
The EU banned or restricted 1400 well over a decade ago and the United States to date has only banned 30. And so we’re dangerously far behind the times, really in two ways in my opinion. Number one, the FDA is not screening chemicals for safety before the ingredients are put into the products that are put on the shelves and Americans just assume when they go to Costco, to Target, to Bloomingdale’s, to wherever they’re going, online, that those products are safe but many times they have chemicals of concern in them.
And the second thing they don’t realize is that unlike your industry, the food industry, the food and beverage industry, that if a product is known to cause harm to health, the FDA does not have the right to recall the product. They don’t have that power. And so we started from day one when we launched, building our advocacy efforts and utilizing our network of independent consultants, our community at large, to send hundreds of thousands of texts and emails. And we’ve done over 1500 meetings on the Hill. And we focused on both state and federal level to urge members of Congress to take action and to protect the health of citizens by giving the power to the FDA to recall product and to start screening products for safety or ingredients for safety. It’s crazy to me that it isn’t happening today.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, it’s nuts. And I don’t know if you know this, but I’m working on a whole clean water initiative and we’re actually, it’s been delayed a bit between the impeachment hearings and the whole COVID issue, but I’m working on an initiative that we’re hoping to get in front of Congress this summer around clean water. So you may or may not know this but our product, because we use fruit is actually regulated by the FDA, but regular bottled water and tap water is not regulated by the FDA.
Gregg Renfrew: No, it’s crazy. [crosstalk 00:24:31]
I don’t buy bottled, like tap water… I mean [inaudible 00:24:33] we’re in a rental house that’s a whole other story, do you understand what I’m saying? I’m the person who has the airstreams, making my sparkling water myself. And I’m really hyper about the water because everyone just assumes it’s totally safe.
They see whatever brand, [inaudible 00:24:49] but they think, not to mention that they’re reading… All of a sudden these brands are thinking about the packaging and what it’s impact is on the earth, whether it’s leaching chemicals into the water. There’s so many things and people aren’t made aware of those facts very often. So I commend you and we at Beautycounter would be happy to get behind helping you when you do that, because we do that for other things beyond the beauty industry because I think again, we all have to join forces to band together to move things in the right direction. So I’m thrilled to hear you’re doing that.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. The first step is drinking fountains. So we’re really focusing on schools initially and getting testing done in schools. So ends up that only 60% of drinking fountains throughout the US in our kids’ schools, and obviously there’s taps that are in people’s homes surrounding those schools, but only 60% are actually being tested.
And so in California, for example, we’re one of the States that, actually I should say 60% of States, so in California, we are one of the States that are testing for lead, but we are not testing for PFAS. When the actual testing within schools is a little bit, what I don’t feel is enough, that if you end up getting 80% of your drinking fountains are free of lead, then you’ve passed. Why should that be? And then does that say that the people that are, let’s say that the first and second grades, where their drinking fountains are in those quarters, let’s say they don’t pass, parents don’t actually know.
Gregg Renfrew: Of course they don’t.
Kara Goldin: That they don’t pass. Instead, it’s like the school gets a passing of approval. So we’re really digging in and looking at a lot of these things. I mean, PFAS, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that, but my quick story on this was when we started bottling 15 years ago, before we actually bottle we get basically the water supply, we’re looking at eight different plants throughout the US so we’re looking at exactly what the water looks like. And over the last 15 years, the water varies greatly in all these different areas, we remove everything out of the water so that we can add fruit to it and no preservatives into the product and like I said, we’re regulated by the FDA, but my question was, what happens to bottle waters?
And we put our product where reverse osmosis, which actually takes out the lead and the plastic and the arsenic and the copper and all of these things, but what happens to bottled water companies? So that the crunchy bottles that you’ll buy, the 36 bottles for $3.99 at a local store, so that is not actually being tested for a lot of these different chemicals and that’s not put through reverse osmosis.
And so it’s crazy. And consumers don’t know that they just assume that it’s safe because it ends up on the shelf. And so I started asking these questions a few years ago and actually went to the EPA on it and the EPA’s response was that the States are required, it’s under their jurisdiction. And I’m like, well, this is crazy because consumers don’t know that [crosstalk 00:28:13].
Gregg Renfrew: Yeah. It’s the same thing in the cosmetic industry. We test for heavy metals, no one talks about heavy metals. You can talk about phthalates and parabens and things like that, but they’re not talking about in color cosmetics the high levels of heavy metals. And we test every single batch of our cosmetics for those heavy metals to look for trace contaminants, just like you are with your water.
And it’s the same thing, that consumers have no idea because no one’s telling them. And because the FDA is not doing anything about it and very publicly brands like Claire’s and Justice and all these brands that have been finding high levels of arsenic and other things in the makeup that’s been marketed to children.
And so we’ve been really trying to focus on this. And where the problems also exist in terms of passing legislation is who actually makes the final decision, is it States, or is it the federal government? And that’s where the deadline where they just can’t get it through is that they can’t agree on who actually makes the final decision.
And so we, as you, have always been focused at Beautycounter on education, because we want people to understand what’s going on out there not to scare them, but to empower them through information so that they can make informed choices. And I think that’s, again, one of the reasons why I’ve loved using independent consultants also is to take 50,000 voices and have them educate their communities on the need for safer ingredients in the same way that you’re talking about someone sending their child to school, just assuming that the tap water in the water fountain is safe. We want them to understand that the products that they’re putting on their bodies that seem to be safe or marketed as natural or organic or pure, may be none of the above and help them navigate.
If nothing else, [inaudible 00:29:48] the market, fragrance free. If nothing else, look for certain dyes in products, and synthetic fragrance or oxybenzone in sunscreen, or whatever it is. Help people understand they can navigate these waters, but you need to give them at least small bits of information to help them make those decisions.
There are a lot of secrets in our industry and your industry that we’re trying to… I’m trying to say though let’s undo the secrecy. We need to just have a real conversation about what’s happening out there and help people make better choices.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. I love it. And I love your, the Never List. Can you talk about that really quick? That’s on your…
Gregg Renfrew: Yeah. So we started… I think that, as a consumer, and you and I are both speaking the same language, right? For consumers, they have to navigate very murky waters. They don’t know what is and is not safe because you’re not always being told the truth. And I don’t care if that’s in the food industry or in the personal care industry. And so we created the Never List, which is a list of ingredients that we will never formulate with that are ingredients that are linked to reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine, disruption, and cancer.
And we have a list now of 1800 ingredients and people will claim that they have more, we don’t list every single… We’ll list classes of ingredients versus every single synthetic ingredient in fragrance. That could be hundreds more. But the idea is how do we find the safest ingredients to protect your health that also performs? That you have a product that you’re going to enjoy using? It gives you the performance that you expect but simultaneously safe for health.
And it was our first step in clean was create a Never List. Now, as a company that has led this industry, we’re now trying to go well beyond that to say, that’s the first step of being clean, but now how do we look holistically at what clean means up and down the supply chain?
And now we’re trying to, as everyone is, we’re trying to take it to a much higher level, but at least that’s something that people can download and shock the market with and it helps them… I hope that they can outsource their trust to us because we’re doing that homework for them and they don’t have to try to… If you’re not a chemist, even in the industry that I’ve worked in and been building this business, I look at these labels and people will walk up to me and say, is this safe and I’m like, I don’t even know what some of these things are. I can’t even answer the question myself. There’s so many chemicals out there.
So that was the intention of it, was for formulation and for education.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. And sometimes the ingredient labels are so tiny. I mean, even people who have great eyes, which I don’t anymore, can’t even read them. I mean, that’s the thing that’s so frustrating
Gregg Renfrew: Well and that’s partially intentional. And by the way, just to be really clear for the people that are listening, when you see a word like fragrance on a cosmetic label or personal care label, they don’t, under international IP law, you do not have to disclose the ingredients that go into that fragrance. And many of the most offensive chemicals are found in fragrance.
And so people just see the word fragrance, but they have no idea all the nasties that are underneath that word that don’t have to be disclosed. There also ways that they can claim to be preservative free because they can pre-preserve raw ingredients somewhere along the supply chain and then extract those ingredients and then claim to be preserve free but they’re not preservative free they just found a loophole in the whole system. So it’s frustrating that people are being misled and that’s what we’re trying to help undo.
Kara Goldin: Oh, I think it’s awesome. So what makes you unstoppable? I always ask this question.
Gregg Renfrew: Good question.
At the end of the day, I think that the work that we’re doing is important. I feel that being able to educate people, to advocate for cosmetic reform, to bring great high-performing products into market and doing that while simultaneously uplifting communities through economic opportunities for our independent consultants…
I think the work we’re doing is important and I don’t think I would work this hard just to make some [inaudible 00:33:37]. It’s just not worth it to me. For me, it was how do we make the world safer, how do we make our country stronger? How do we help educate and empower people through both education and economic opportunity? And that gets me out of bed every day and it also gets me out of bed every night. I swear I never sleep, I’m perpetually exhausted, that’s why I’m like can we get more products to help me sleep-
Kara Goldin: No, you look amazing and you always have so much energy.
Gregg Renfrew: But yeah, you get tired but I think, you care. I mean, at the end of the day, you started this conversation earlier by talking about people who want to get rich or who want to build the business itself overnight, that’s not what I intended to do. It’s not what you intended to do. I intended to change an industry, to lead by example, to make things that are better and safer and that gets me out of bed every morning. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not scared a lot of the time. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t had tons of failures or that I don’t lack confidence in moments. But when you think that the work that you’re doing is important, you get up in the morning.
Kara Goldin: Totally.
Gregg Renfrew: That’s why you, I’m guessing, get up in the morning too and are unstoppable because you’re doing something that matters.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. No, absolutely.
So what’s your favorite Hint flavor? That’s the other question. I’m drinking cherry right now, but…
Gregg Renfrew: That’s a good question! I don’t know. I actually don’t drink a lot of fruit water. I don’t know what my favorite Hint flavor is. I drink a lot of your ones but it’s honestly not one of my regular day-to-days. But I would say, I know that you have one that I’ve had that has berries in it, is it strawberries or raspberries? I’m trying to remember what it was. We had some in our office. [crosstalk 00:35:07]
Kara Goldin: We’ll get you some, too. We have the strawberry kiwi fizz. You like carbonation, right?
Gregg Renfrew: Yes. I love carbonation. It’s funny because I used to be a big Diet Coke drinker and I obviously swore off that because it’s like the devil and that took me like a decade to get off of that and then I started drinking way too much iced tea. And so I’m either plain water, iced tea, or occasionally, if I’m craving a Diet Coke type of sensation I have sparkling water.
But I know that you sent some products to our office and it was so funny because I never even got to get one because they were gone before I even… People were going crazy. I know at Beautycounter we have so many fans. I do remember there was a berry one that I love, I just don’t remember the name of it because I don’t pay attention to labels, but… [crosstalk 00:35:54]
Kara Goldin: We’ll send you some more. I know you like the carbonated ones so we’ll definitely get you some more. That’s awesome.
So where do people find you? What’s the best way to get ahold… Well, obviously Beautycounter.com, definitely go check it out. And are you guys hiring right now as well, Gregg?
Gregg Renfrew: So we are. Yeah it’s funny because we’re hiring people, but our corporate research has taken a bit of a pause, but we are always looking for great people. And in our field of independent consultants, I think we’ve had about 5,000 people join our business in the last six weeks who are really trying to build businesses on our platform. And so that’s been great.
And if people are interested in that business opportunity, they can go to Beautycounter.com and look at joining the independent consultant opportunity. And it’s not for everyone, but it is really rewarding for people both just because they have social impact and they’re able to earn money if they work hard. It’s not like you snap your fingers and you’re going to make money but if you actually believe in [inaudible 00:36:52] and our products and want to reach out to your community, you have an opportunity to earn.
We’re [inaudible 00:37:01] person, both of those areas for sure. But yeah, you can find us at Beuatycounter.com, you can find me at Gregg Renfrew I’m on Instagram and Facebook. I actually went off of Facebook for years but I was like, I got to back on it even though… I mean, it’s like who has time to do all this? I’m not the best on social media, but I do believe in trying to reach out to people and it helps us build our [inaudible 00:37:20].
Kara Goldin: No, I love it. And it’s Gregg with two Gs, G-R-E-G-G. Just so everybody can find [crosstalk 00:37:27].
Gregg Renfrew: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, absolutely. Well, this was awesome. Thanks so much and stay safe and well, and hopefully we’ll see each other live soon.
Gregg Renfrew: It would be great. We’ll have to do some other speaking engagement together, it was fun last time we did, so.
Kara Goldin: I would love that. Okay, great. Thanks everybody! Thanks Gregg.
Gregg Renfrew: Thanks.
People Also Liked
Rob LoCascio – Founder & CEO of LivePerson Inc.
Esther Wojcicki – Co-Founder of TractLearning, Inc. and Founder of the Palo Alto High School Media Arts Program
Laney Crowell – Founder and CEO of Saie Beauty
Arlan Hamilton – Founder and Partner at Backstage Capital
Gloria Hwang – Founder and CEO of Thousand