Check it! Kate Hanson has just launched Ikigai
, an organic and natural online beauty boutique that will hookup girly girls, macho men and bambinos with amazing eco-products. But Ikigai
does way more than just push product they breakdown product ingredients, have an extensive glossary and info that will assist the everyday consumer with their health, wellbeing and organic and natural beauty.
Here's lil' question and answer eco-session I had with Kate that I thought all of you would find helpful. I look forward to meeting the Ikigai fam on my next trip to OZ, that's if you can get the Eco Hustler off the beach...
Eco Hustler: What inspired you to launch an online Eco-Beauty store?
Kate Hanson: Ikigai couldn’t have come into being if I hadn’t moved from busy, dirty, grimy old London to beautiful Queensland back in 2006. The stunning scenery and more laid-back lifestyle here helped me to reconnect with the things I had loved as a little girl growing up in the English countryside. As an 8-year-old I used to gather ‘herbs’ and ‘seeds’ (mostly various types of grass I suspect) and try to sell them in the front garden to passers-by. My mother had a Culpeper book and I was fascinated by the properties of all the herbs in the book. However, I went off to work in the cut-and-thrust world of PR and advertising and all that was lost until recently.
I’ve always been addicted to beauty and skincare products but for the first time I started to research what actually goes into them. And I was absolutely horrified. As I tried to ‘green’ my beauty routine and find products based on the powerful natural benefits of herbal extracts and essential oils, I made lots of mistakes. I believed that products claiming to be ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ actually were, only to get the product home, read the label and find it was full of chemicals!
Ikigai was born out of this frustration together with a sense that there must be girls like me out there. Girls who appreciate glamour, style and luxury could do with some green beauty alternatives that keep their promises AND make us feel special. After all, who wants to use hemp shower gel in dodgy packaging? Why can’t we be green and glamorous at the same time?
The rationale for starting online was simple - we had no experience of operating a retail environment but plenty of experience with websites (me from a marketing point of view and my partner from the technology side). Also, in Australia, there are lots of remote places where people just don't have access to many shopping choices. We wanted to serve these communities too.
Eco Hustler: What sets Ikigai apart from other online beauty retailers?
We've worked very hard to make Ikigai's online store very different to other online stores. For instance, the product photos are shot to a very high professional standard, which allows customers to view the products from every angle, in and out of the packaging. There's even a close-up shot of the ingredients clear enough to read each and every item. We feel this is as near as you could get to picking up the product in a store and handling it yourself.
We're also very concerned with complete transparency about cosmetic ingredients. That's why we have a fully comprehensive glossary with details of what each and every ingredient is. This is linked directly from the product pages so you can see exactly what is in each product and click on the ingredient to read a descriptor. I love this feature! It's totally unique. And I personally entered each and every ingredient on each and every product and wrote the descriptors for all of them, so I can honestly say I know what's in all our products!
Finally, Ikigai is about education and entertainment as well as just shopping for great organic skincare products. So there's a host of news, views, articles and advice on the site for visitors to browse and learn about health, wellbeing and organic and natural beauty.
Eco Hustler: What can the beauty industry do to be more Eco-friendly?
Kate Hanson: I'm not sure where to start with this one! Scrap everything and start all over again maybe?! I would highly recommend Stacy Malkan's wonderful book 'Not Just a Pretty Face' for an eye-opener on the shocking mainstream cosmetics industry and how unregulated and unscrupulous it really is. It shocks me that people are sold hope in a jar and what they are actually getting is a bunch of potentially toxic chemicals with little or no benefit to the skin. I am also utterly opposed to animal testing and I feel that using natural ingredients which have been trusted for thousands of years excludes the need for animal testing completely.
Packaging is another area that horrifies me. I noticed Neutrogena has brought out a plastic thing that takes batteries to cleanse your face with little rotating pads. Hello? What's wrong with using your hands?! I'm a big admirer of companies like Pangea who use 100% post-consumer recycled packaging. You can plant the boxes to grow a herb which is just adorable - and the contents biodegrade within a couple of days, not a couple of hundred years like some skincare and body products.
Eco Hustler: Being from the U.K. do you find that Australians are more Eco-aware if yes how so?
Kate Hanson: This is very unpatriotic of me but I absolutely do think Australians are more eco-aware, yes. Compared with London, there is much less litter on the streets here. I think being surrounded by such incredible natural beauty in the scenery and the wildlife maybe inspires Australians to have more pride in and respect for their environment. Australians also have a much more outdoorsy lifestyle, due in a large part to the fantastic weather here. There's nothing like camping, surfing or bush walking to remind you how important the environment is. In Queensland, where we are based, there is a lot of concern about population growth, traffic and industry, and what this means for the environment. People are also keen to buy 'Australian-made and owned' products which is obviously good for the economy and the environment too!
Eco Hustler: What advice would you offer a non-green person?
Kate Hanson: Don't get discouraged - even doing a little bit is better than nothing at all.