‘Organic’ is the latest buzzword, ‘natural’ the newest trend. Health and wellness has been extolled as the fastest growing industry in the world, and it’s only getting bigger.
We’re finally overturning the Baby Boomers’ infatuation with chemicals, pharmaceuticals, synthesised everything and enough preservatives to make your Big Mac still palatable after four months of hot summer days – if it ever was palatable in the first place. We are scouring ingredient lists before our purchases, becoming more aware of what we ingest, imbibe and apply and less concerned about saving a couple of cents. And this has never been more important than in what we smother upon the virgin skin of our children.
It’s great news all round; for us, for the animals no longer forced to look like Melania Trump on a bad hangover, and for the planet. But to some, it is the sign they have been striving for that finally the world is waking up to their message.
This is a culmination of sorts of a 16-year journey for Nature’s Child’s Jannine Barron, a persistent devotion to the notion that childcare and baby products not only can, but also should be one hundred per cent organic. On the verge of launching a baby skincare range that will, for the first time, be available nationwide at carefully selected outlets, she sees nature as the source of the vast majority of our cosmetic needs, it is only old habits that make us believe otherwise.
“What if nature has all we actually need, and all we have to do is just open our eyes and realise that these products are growing in our back yards, we just haven’t discovered them yet,” she suggests of the fundamental concept behind Nature’s Child. “What if it’s all there and we’re just blinded by this idea that we have to use chemicals to make it cheaper or make it work?
“So many things we think we need, we actually don’t need at all.”
Sixteen years ago, those now familiar buzzwords were rarely heard, a marketing non-event and often irrelevant to the average consumer. But Jannine had a vision. She absolutely knew that she could create an entire line of baby products that avoided the chemical-dependent norm. Every step was a challenge, but also opened new possibilities, greater potential and a deeper understanding of the products she was working with. For example:
“With our famous Bottom Balm cream, that we created about seven years ago, we included beeswax to give it a balmy feel, without even looking at the properties of beeswax, but when we started investigating what beeswax is good for in itself, it was eye-opening.”
This has been true of so many aspects of Nature’s Child, not limited to the ingredients alone. Where protecting babies from chemical-based products may have been a key initiative in the early days, it has become only one of the key components of the company. Ethical business is the fundament of Jannine’s perspective, and she adheres to it in every way she can, constantly reassessing how she creates her products, their packaging, the source of ingredients and with whom she commercially shares her brand:
“Being a responsible and ethical business was the basis of everything. It is essential to how I operate on a daily basis, it’s part of our nature, so it’s vitally important, and it’s also another reason to strive to be successful, because we want to show other businesses that you can be successful as an ethical company.”
As an all-natural businessperson in an artificial world of cheap, toxic cosmetics and products, one could imagine that Jannine would be scathing and judgemental of the current marketplace. While she may dislike and disagree with the use of chemicals, she is however incredibly open-minded and understanding, not necessarily validating or condoning the commercial cosmetics industry and its brands, yet neither does she speak ill of her competition.
“At the end of the day, people are busy, people are stressed, people are time-poor. They need to grab things off the shelf that are competitive and price-effective. It’s up to responsible companies to understand that and do all the behind the scenes machinations to make that product as beneficial – to the consumers and the planet – as possible. I get that some people have to queue up in Woolies at 7:30 at night and get home and put the kids to bed, so let me make it really simple for that person to do good in the world, simply by choosing my product.
“There’s a lot of compromising in the market that’s very price-based, but I wanted to come up with the purest product I possibly could.”
The intricacies of creating a natural, organic product that is effective, certified, yet still competitively priced has been a constant challenge for the Nature’s Child team. With the constant temptation of quicker and easier options, her scruples could have easily been compromised, creating ‘mostly’ organic products cheaper and ahead of time. But to her resounding credit, Jannine always remained true to her morals:
“I could have put a skincare range out five years ago, but the technology or the ingredients weren’t available for me to feel like I could put my brand name behind it,” she says of her product development. “I have taken on the personal challenge of finding a way to use nothing nasty. It took me a lot longer to get there, but because I had this vision, I just seemed to connect with the right people.”
Gaining organic certification, too, was no easy hurdle, the intricacies of the process and countless boxes to be ticked creating a huge amount of extra work and ensuing problems for the company.
“It’s such a complex process to achieve the organic certification,” she illuminates. “I don’t think people realise, when they’re just looking at products on the shelf that, if that logo is there saying that you’re one hundred per cent certified organic, it is such a big deal. There’s a lot of complexity and reporting and auditing that goes in to independently verifying the product for consumers as completely chemical-free.”
Though not an ill word is spoken of her competitors, she does observe the hypocrisy and ‘green-washing’, as she puts it, within the marketplace. Those buzzwords are scattered like confetti at a wedding across our supermarket shelves, luring us in with earthy tones, leafy motifs and trigger words that make us believe we are doing the right thing when, in fact, it is little more than cunning marketing tactics.
Another issue she has brought into question is the use of so-called ‘safe’ chemicals. Every product that reaches retail is meticulously scrutinised, every ingredient requiring approval on what is known in the industry as a material data safety sheet. While individually these ingredients may be deemed safe, Jannine wonders whether the combination might become a volatile cocktail:
“For a product to comply, it must contain approved ingredients, but what has never, ever been approved is what happens when you mix those chemicals together. Singularly, those products might be fine…but they’ve never investigated what happens when you mix this chemical cocktail together.”
Jannine has peered deep into the grey areas of marketing and business, determined to learn their truths so that she can avoid their pitfalls. This analysis is not confined to ingredients, but expanded to every aspect of her business, and many valuable lessons have been discovered to which all contemporary businesses could do well to listen and adhere to.
Sustainability, for example, Jannine sees as nothing more than the foundation, a starting point from which to improve business. At the rate we are consuming resources, we will need over four Planet Earths to survive – this is ‘sustainability’. To sustain is to remain the same, but what we must do, says Jannine, is go beyond sustainability to regeneration.
“When you have an organically certified process, you are making sure that, not only is the earth not being harmed, but it is actually being regenerated by what you do. That’s where we have to be – sustainability is just the starting point.”
Jannine’s aim with Nature’s Child has always been to bring natural, organic and cost-effective products to as many people as possible, sharing their benefits and educating by example. Through her retail store in Byron’s industrial estate, she had connected with many local and visiting new parents, many of whom she has remained in contact with as their children have grown into young adults. Though a tough decision to step away from this very personal and hands-on approach, she has concluded that the only way to achieve her dreams is to take Nature’s Child into the world of wholesale, expanding her reach far beyond the Shire, not just across Australia, but also globally.
“It’s really exciting [moving to wholesale]. It was definitely about working smarter, but the first reason was wanting to make a bigger impact, and I knew I would need to do that through other retailers, not just myself. Apart from through our online shop, we hadn’t been able to reach as wide an audience as I would have liked outside of Byron Bay, so wholesale is the perfect way to accomplish that.
“The compromise is that I miss out on dealing with people. That’s been really hard to let go of, because I love connecting with people and saying hello to people around the Shire that I’ve known since they had their babies, and then watching those kids grow up – I love all of that. But I think I have something bigger in me that I have to experience and leverage.”
Numerous distributors have approached Nature’s Child over the years and Jannine could have launched a wholesale range far sooner, but often the timing wasn’t right, she felt the need to maintain the personal touch, or the companies requesting her brand did not fulfil her strict criteria of conscious and ethical business.
China and Japan are two vast marketplaces craving Australian organic products. With Australian distribution secured, Jannine is now taking the expansion offshore one step at a time, ensuring that she only work with good people with strong morals, high ethics and common values.
As with so many businesses borne of the Shire, Nature’s Child is expanding far beyond the Northern Rivers. Jannine has been meticulous in selecting distributors and outlets across the country to represent her, and finally she is beginning to reach her target audience en masse. With her range of products – including her newly released baby skincare range and the much loved and highly successful Bottom Balm – now standing proud on the shelves of baby shops and health food shops, her 16-year dream is coming to fruition. She is showing the world that we can live chemical free, equally as well, if not better.
She has always aimed to reach as many new mums as she possibly can, that door has now opened and her market has expanded exponentially.
But, also as with her peers, Jannine is not one to forget the soil that allowed her to flourish.
A metamorphosis of her role is certain to see her less connecting with her consumers and more behind a desk or jetsetting around the country or world to find representation for her brand, but she still holds dear her community connection. Quarterly workshops and personal ties will help her keep one foot on the ground and lifelong friendships will always mean that her roots are never forgotten.
Nature’s Child has grown up, and the great, wide world awaits – but home will always be home and the powerful and admirable values of its inception will remain in every foostep, naturally.
Nature’s Child’s new baby skincare range, as well as all the tried, tested and much loved products, are now available nationwide.
Visit www.natureschild.com.au for information on your nearest stockist, or to order online and find out more about this inspiring, Byron born and bred company. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further enquiries.