We sit down with Ian Lirenman, founder and CEO of EmerginC, to talk about sticking to brand philosophy, following your instincts and creating positive changes in perception.
Ian Lirenman, founder and CEO of New York-based brand EmerginC has never been afraid of pushing the boundaries. Naturally-focused and results-driven, EmerginC is a small brand that thinks big. Actively seeking positive environmental and behavioural change, this niche brand has passionate ideals – and an even more passionate political agenda. And all this enthusiasm seems to be resonating with some influential industry players across the US and the globe.
“We’re in twelve different countries and… all the top places in the US,” says Lirenman who says he fell into skincare by accident. “We’re in Miraval [in Arizona] which is considered to be one of the top destination spas, we’re in some great properties in the Napa Valley, we’re in Caesar’s Palace[in Las Vegas]; we’re in Cosmopolitan in Vegas; so we’re really in niche but penetrated investments.”
EmerginC is an active professional skincare line that boasts one hundred percent natural ingredients and at least 70 percent organic ingredients. Chock-full of active ingredients, including antioxidant plant extract, peptides, grape stem cells and fruit acids, this range ticks plenty of boxes.
“We went with the philosophy of “don’t make perfect the enemy of the good,” says Lirenman. “So we cheated; [the range is] one hundred percent natural with a minimum of seventy percent organic. It gave us that wriggle room we needed to produce products that worked. So there are stem cells, there are peptides, there is food grade seaweed, the kombucha. It works.”
But perhaps why spas and clinics are falling over themselves to take on this brand is its do-good philosophy and desire to create positive change. “We see ourselves as a visionary brand and an industry leader in sustainability,” says Lirenman. And he has several environment-based programs to back up these claims.
His tree planting program – a pledge by the brand to plant “a viable, indigenous tree in a non-harvest location” for every single product sold – was an industry first that Lirenman said had people shedding tears when they first heard of the concept.
“When we first launched the tree planting program, people were so taken by it that they started crying right in front of us – they couldn’t believe that a brand would think like that,” says Lirenman. “Now [these kinds of programs] are more prevalent; more and more people “get” us now, we have a very good reputation, and we see a lot of people copying us.”
This desire to change people’s perceptions pervades all of Lireman’s business – and when you sit down with him it’s clear that the passion is genuine. “What I’m trying to do is create a brand that has some meaning,” says Lirenman. “And not only meaning for our clients but meaning for me too. I have two kids and I want to be practising what I preach. This brand has already given me more than I thought I would have and I don’t want to feel as though I’m just taking. I want to do something where we give back all the time.”
And he clearly does. Aside from the tree-planting program (which has seen the brand plant over half a million trees), there are plenty of other green initiatives in play at EmerginC. From the company-wide initiatives such as using only green energy and offsetting carbon; to the smaller gestures like planting organic vegetables on the company headquarters’ roof, keeping chickens and offering weekly yoga sessions to staff. And then there are the bold environmental statements such as the seed bomb initiative; a program where the brand hands out seed bombs with each product sold. The entrepreneur also has a scheme which doles out rocket seeds with product.
“We give a clay compost seed bomb with every product sold,” says Lirenman. “And the rocket seeds are a political statement; it’s saying you can control your own food, you don’t have to buy it from [the supermarket]. But there is also an immense joy to growing your own food. And there is a nutritional element to it too. We are trying to be impactful – most people want to make a difference but they are mostly too lazy, too cheap, or don’t know how.”
Not one to sit around and survey what he has already achieved, Lirenman is constantly coming up with new schemes to get people thinking about their impact on the environment. Think environmentally-friendly LED light bulbs given out with products at Christmas, stacks of cards with tips on how to reduce our impact on the environment and a recent initiative to introduce fair-trade ingredients. “It’s a way of expanding consciousness,” says Lirenman.
With a loyal staff and more and more salons and spas “getting them”, EmerginC is a great inspiration for the power of thinking big.
“We are a small company but we want to have as big an impact as we can on the way people see the world,” says Lirenman.
And he’s doing just that, one product (and one tree) at a time.