On Thursday evenings from 8 to 9pm ET, IBN hosts #HandmadeChat, a Twitter talk show to help handmade entrepreneurs sell more products, have more fun, and be more successful personally and professionally. While the show is aimed mainly at business owners who make and sell handmade consumer products, the topics and discussions can empower and encourage the growth of any small business.
Our most recent #HandmadeChat was sponsored by Essential Wholesale, the world's largest selection of natural and organic unscented cosmetics bases.
Our guest was Cindy Jones, Ph.D. Cindy leads Sagescript Institute, a farm-based cosmetics science company that offers formulating, microbiology, private label, bulk bases, herbs and herb extracts to small cosmetics companies. Cindy discussed plant-based skincare and the importance of testing to ensure the safety of cosmetics you make and sell.
Q1 WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR SAGESCRIPT?
The name came about when I was working as a freelance medical and herb writer. Sage = wise script = writing.
I’ve always been an avid do-it-yourselfer, and was making herbal and skin care products as a hobby for quite some time. Through networking, I learned that handmade companies needed a resource to test lotions for bacteria and fungus. Since my background includes microbiology, I knew I could help them. I learned about cosmetic microbiology and eventually began offering these services.
My background as a chemist and an herbalist is ideal for formulating and testing natural products.
Little by little, I cut back on my writing and teaching jobs, and now run my business full-time.
Q2 WHAT SORTS OF TESTING AND OTHER SERVICES DOES SAGESCRIPT PROVIDE?
1. Cosmetic Microbiology Testing. The basic test is APC and fungal/yeast test which tells you whether there is bacteria or fungus in your product at that time and is a good indication of your GMP. We can also do additional microbiology studies including challenge testing. http://www.sagescript.com/microbiology.
2.Formulating. We can formulate a new and unique product for your company. We can also help with a formula you may already have and improve it through tweaking. If you are new to formulating, we will do a formula tuneup for those who want a chemist to look over their formula, make suggestions and answer a few questions.
3. Manufacturing. After formulating I can manufacture your product.
4. Private label. Most products I make for Colorado Aromatics can be private labeled for your line. I am working developing more formulas to grow my private label line.
5. Monographs. We can provide ingredient monographs, advising on ingredients, looking up and evaluating scientific information, etc.
6.Classes. I’m working on online classes. The first one up is “The Nature of Chemistry” and I will soon have up “The Nature of Skin” – both are designed to help formulators and herbalists understand the basic science of their craft.
7. Botanical Extracts – I make botanical extracts for use in cosmetics. Some are custom made for a specific company’s product, others are available online for purchase. I do not do any chemical testing for instance for lead or parabens.
Q3 WHY DID YOU RECENTLY LAUNCH COLORADO AROMATICS, WHEN SAGESCRIPT IS SO SUCCESSFUL?
I’d been making and selling my own products for awhile under the Sagescript label and thought it was time to separate the two sides of the business since they have two different audiences.
Sagescript is a B2B (business to business) company offering services and products to skin care companies. Colorado Aromatics is B2C (business to consumer) company offering cosmetics to the end user and wholesale to retail stores.
Q4 HOW DO YOU MANAGE SPLITTING YOUR ATTENTION BETWEEN SAGESCRIPT AND COLORADO AROMATICS?
Both brands are essentially formulating and manufacturing, be it for my brand or for someone else’s. Colorado Aromatics requires more marketing, which is not my strong point. I sell my products at the farmers market in the summer, and I enjoy talking face to face with customers about cosmetics.
Q5 WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO USE COSMETICS THAT CONTAIN HERBAL AND AROMATHERAPY INGREDIENTS?
Herbs have extraordinary properties and contribute important nutrients and antioxidants to a product. Inflammation and oxidation of the skin are key processes in aging. Herbs can contribute both anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants to help skin repair.
Many herbs have additional properties; calendula has been proven to improve wound healing. Several herbs, including chamomile, can sooth skin, green tea improves skin elasticity and so on.
I believe herbs lend themselves to a more sustainable lifestyle as they are a renewable resource.
If you buy US herbs, your are supporting small farms that are disappearing from the American landscape. Buy Local!
Q6 AS A Ph.D., YOU COULD WORK FOR LARGE COMPANIES? WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK WITH INDIEs?
Primarily because I love Colorado and want to live here. Most large cosmetics companies (as well as drug companies) are on the east and west coast. I made this decision early on when many of my classmates went to work for large pharmaceutical companies on the east coast.
Interestingly, when I got my Ph.D. in biochemistry I had never heard of cosmetic chemistry, much less considered it, even though my Ph.D. is from U of Cincinnati, home to Proctor and Gamble. Some of my classmates went to work for P&G's drug divisions. I did cancer research. I never realized that cosmetic chemistry was actually a field until my curiosity and love of herbs took me on this winding path to create my own business.
Working with Indies is exciting. I love the energy and the ability small companies have to quickly change directions to develop new products. Small business is so important to our economy, and I love being able to give support there.
Q7 WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS COSMETICS COMPANIES SHOULD BE AWARE OF WHEN STARTING OUT?
Make sure you allow enough time and money for formulating. I’ve worked with entrepreneurs who have a complete marketing plan, even a launch date set before they had a product. Needless to say, these entrepreneurs do not stay in business.
Formulating takes time, especially if you want a unique product. It can take several months, even a year with stability testing and microbiology testing.
Q8 YOU HARVEST MANY HERBS USED IN PRODUCTS YOU SELL – WHAT TIPS CAN YOU OFFER OTHERS WHO WANT TO DO SO?
We bought our farm 5 years ago with plans to grow the business. We have the space to be able to plant more as the business grows. However, if you farm there are many things outside of your control that affect productivity. This year we had a severe drought in Colorado which really decreased yield. Summers are especially busy with the farming and doing markets. Farm help is expensive and people don’t understand the work. So no, I really don’t have advice as I am still figuring this out!
Q9 WHAT ARE A FEW OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TESTING PRODUCTS YOU OFFER SMALL COSMETICS COMPANIES?
If you make an emulsion or any product that contains water you need to have microbiology testing (APC and fungal/yeast test). And by water we mean anything that contains water; aloe juice, aqueous herb extracts, hydrosols, etc. All of these can support microbial growth.
You really want to do either a challenge test or a common usage test to know if your preservative is working too. Challenge testing is expensive for a company just starting off ($500). For less money you can get usable results with a common usage test. This involves first getting the APC and fungal/yeast test on a sample to know you are starting out with a clean. Take a second sample and use and abuse it. Leave it open and stick dirty fingers in, being sure you are introducing bacteria/fungus into the product. Continue this for a few days and in 1-2 weeks send this sample for APC and fungal/yeast testing.
Your preservative should be able to handle the abuse you gave it and these counts should still be low to 0.
Q10 WHAT ARE YOUR BEST SELLING PRODUCTS, AND WHY DO PEOPLE SAY THEY LOVE THEM?
Springtide Antiaging face cream is my best seller. Its packed with antioxidants; alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C ester, green tea, fennel and more. People say it feels soft on the skin and works well in the brutal Colorado climate. My new version of this, Springtide Gold, has peptides for collagen production. Both are a great value too.
The second best seller is Razz, a hyaluronic acid based serum which uses ingredients for tightening and lifting. I formulated it as an oil free moisturizer because customers wanted that.
Q11 WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SMALL BUSINESS BOOKS, AND HOW HAVE THEY HELPED YOU BE SUCCESSFUL?
Many years ago I read “Growing your Herb Business” by Bertha Reppert and “Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs” by Sandie Shores. Both got the wheels turning in my head and started me on the path of wanting my own business. I didn’t know at that time that it would evolve from herbs into a cosmetics business.
I just read Lela Barker’s new book and found it very useful and to the point.
A few years ago I read The Path by Laurie Beth Jones. It really helped me verbalize why I do what I do. I prefer shorter reads. I love The Saponifier and reading about small businesses in my local paper.
Q12 AT IBN, WE STRIVE TO BE SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS RESOURCE. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE JOIN ORGANIZATION LIKE IBN?
The networking opportunities at IBN are priceless. There is also the encouragement, support and promotional opportunities offered. I love dMs business and technology articles and advice.
Best of all are the Success Calls and audio podcasts and seminars. I listen to them in my workshop when I am doing routine things. It has helped me keep up with things I otherwise would not have the time for.
More About Cindy Jones, PhD
Cindy has been an IBN member since 2009.
She is a biochemist and herb farmer with extensive experience in physiology, toxicology, cancer research and cosmetic science. Cindy has also worked as a research scientist, a college instructor and is a published author. She is a highly sought after product development consultant to the natural cosmetic and skin care industry. Her passion for science and love of herbs is the catalyst behind the Colorado Aromatics skin care line. She brings a scientific perspective to the field of herbalism and skin care. (Taken from http://www.coloradoaromatics.com)
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When Is The Next #HandmadeChat?
The next #HandmadeChat will be Thursday, January 17, 2013, at 8pm ET, with Kristen Bowen, of Living the Good Life, Naturally, Logan, Utah. Kristen is a master soap and lotion maker who produces natural, organically based soaps, lotions, scrubs, lip frostings, and other natural products. She also hosts the Living the Good Life … Naturally radio show.
On this #Handmadechat, Kristen will join us to share her best ideas and recipes for natural home and lifestyle, as well as natural weight loss and energy renewal for the New Year!
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