Personal Care Truth Founders Share Their Mission

In previous posts (here and here), I told you about Personal Care Truth (PCT), a website that launched in May 2010 under the management of IBN members Lisa Rodgers and Kristin Fraser Cotte. Until recently, Lisa was full-time CEO at Cactus & Ivy, a manufacturer of vegan bath and body products. Kristin is CEO and founder of The Grapeseed Company, creator since 2004 of cosmetics made from byproducts of the Santa Barbara, California, wine industry.

Personal Care Truth

I have had a front row seat to the mission of PCT, not only in my capacity as founder and CEO of INDIE Beauty Network, but also as a small business advocate with concerns that uninformed popular untruths, opinions, and absurd conclusions could result in passage into law of bills that, as currently written, would burden small cosmetics manufacturers with regulations that stamp out the entrepreneurial dreams of future generations without providing any benefit to consumers. I sat down for a quick conversation with Lisa and Kristin to catch up on their activities and share some of the plans they have for PCT and its impact on the cosmetics industry as a whole. Here is some of what they told me.

dM: What is PCT and why is there a need for it?

Kristin and Lisa: PCT provides science backed information on the personal care industry, from respected experts and scientists in the field. Its purpose is to educate consumers and give those in the industry a public platform to comment, question and discuss the safety of cosmetics – specifically ingredients, science, regulations, and legislation.

There is an incredible amount of false information floating around the Internet concerning the safety of cosmetics. The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics site was censoring comments at blogs they controlled whenever we (and countless others) brought up questions surrounding the misleading information they were sharing. Also, previous proposed legislation would have unnecessarily put small manufacturers out of business by imposing hefty regulations and costs that were not necessary to protect consumers. We wanted our voices heard, and we can tell that lots of others wanted to be heard as well.

Since launching, PCT has enjoyed 38,306 unique visitors and 1,329,967 page views — 25,495 of the unique visitors from 2011.

We first came up with the idea to build a science-backed and information-packed website after trying to find common ground with people who were spreading misinformation. When it became clear that common ground was not going to be found, we created PCT to inform and educate the public with truth-filled information about the personal care industry, based on scientific research.

dM: What do you envision for PCT, say, 5 years from now?

Lisa and Kristin: Our hope is that PCT will be viewed as a trusted site for consumers to find the truth about personal care products. There are many things we have planned for PCT, however, we are keeping them under wraps for now. Exciting plans, nonetheless!

dM: How did you choose the experts? Are you looking for more?

Lisa and Kristin: We started with experts that we turned to, read, and respect in the industry. We’ve been contacted by many folks who would like to be experts; right now we are content with our panel and are not looking to add anyone else to the team.

Every single expert contributes their work for free, as they are just as concerned with the truth and future of our industry without over-regulation based on internet myths.

dM: What are some of the challenges with running a site like this?

Lisa and Kristin: It’s a huge undertaking that we have almost completely self-funded and put countless hours into. From the beginning, we received comments from people who were constantly questioning where the money for the site was coming from. Thick skin is a must.

We publish every comment on our site that does not violate our comment policy. While we have received tremendous positive response, we’ve also had detractors. The amazing thing is that everyone involved with the site is so passionate about setting the record straight, and we have open conversations with everyone, including people who don't see things the way we do.

dM: Is the site part of a formal business?

Lisa and Kristin: We are working to make PCT an LLC. Because we were unsure how consumers and the industry, as a whole would accept us, we decided to start with the basics. Now that we know PCT is a valuable site, we will make it official in the eyes of business.

dM: How will you grow PCT going forward?

Lisa and Kristin: We made the decision early on that PCT would not be about promoting a particular product or brand. While doing so, it tied our hands, to a certain degree, on what type of advertisers we could contact and list on the site. Currently, we are hoping for monetary support through donations.

dM: What one message would you like to leave readers with about the personal care industry in general?

Lisa and Kristin: The personal care industry has a long record of safety. No one has ever died from using soap or putting lotion on their skin. It’s incredibly important that those of us within the industry (especially small businesses and entrepreneurs) speak up about our concerns before legislation is passed that may take away everything we have worked so hard to build.

Together, we can dispel the myths and scare tactics plaguing the internet in regards to the personal care products industry.

dM: Visit Grapeseed Company here. Visit PCT's website and follow them on Twitter and on FaceBook. You can read PCT's comment policy here, and you can make donations, as I have, by clicking here.

Question: Do you support Personal Care Truth? If so, will you make a donation today?

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.