Adorn Cosmetics Founder Briony Kennedy Talks Postnatal Depression, Greenwashing, and the Circular Beauty Model

Briony Kennedy, founder of Adorn Cosmetics and be. Health. spoke with Ariana Pezeshki about her brand ethos, encouraging kindness to people, the planet, and animals. Eco-friendly brands are here to stay and Briony is passionate about the importance of reducing waste and minimising carbon footprint beyond the beauty industry.

Who is Briony Kennedy?

“My name is Briony Kennedy and I am the founder, CEO and face of Australian-made and zero waste luxury cosmetics brand, Adorn Cosmetics, and collagen health supplement brand be. Health. I strive to live with purpose in all areas of my life, not only as an entrepreneur and waste reduction activist but as a mother of three boys and an advocate for spreading kindness and raising mental health awareness.

After the birth of my twin boys, I suffered from debilitating postnatal depression which prompted me to help other women enduring this common mental illness. Through Adorn I advocate and encourage kindness and help women improve their confidence through self care with skincare, and the expression of makeup.

Developing business acumen

I have always had an interest in makeup, beauty, and fashion. After spending years in the retail and customer service industry where presentation and self-confidence was key, I wanted to make the move into helping all women feel confident in themselves. As a creative person the move to become a makeup artist also fed my passion for colour and desire to reimagine traditional beauty techniques.

I had my first entrepreneurial lightbulb moment in primary school learning about profit and loss. My teacher used the farm animals we had at the school as an analogy. The animals earned extra money for the school, but also cost money to feed and keep them. I never forgot the lesson. It’s why I began my first business, Briony’s Bunny Business. Birds, bunnies, guinea pigs, mice, quail. If my parents let me own it, I sold it.

A few years after becoming an accredited makeup and beauty professional, I acquired my first salon, transforming a small fledgling beauty business on Bridge Road Richmond, to a thriving business built on customer service, commitment to care and using only the best quality products.

On choosing sustainable beauty

After these years in the beauty industry, I knew the importance of using premium quality products with skin-safe, healthier ingredients, but I was frustrated by the waste in the beauty industry and its impact on the environment.

There were already so many brands in the market that claimed to be eco-friendly and good for you however as I soon learned, this is not always the case so trying to source the right products that claimed to have all the benefits, that was truly sustainable, proved to be challenging. ‘Many brands are guilty of greenwashing their products. This means they may add just 1% organic material and proceed to label the product ‘green,’ ‘natural,’ or ‘organic.’

Reducing waste and minimising your carbon footprint is achievable. It merely takes effort and thought. Packaging from tree-based products consumes 18 million acres of forest every year. Such large-scale industrial deforestation has contributed significantly to global warming. Beauty packaging amounts to 120 billion units every year. That includes plastic, paper, glass, and metals, all of which end up in landfill year after year.

The reality is the earth cannot sustain the waste practices of the past and we must evolve our thinking. We have finite resources, and we can’t keep taking from the planet without consideration to the impact, or how we can make those resources last or be replenished.

“I believe in sharing my knowledge for minimising waste and caring for the planet with anyone who dares listen.”

My exposure to beauty brands, when I owned my salon, educated me on what was claimed as an ethically conscious product. Through my own research into product manufacturing, ingredients, and product results, I felt that manufacturers did not go far enough to create a range that embraced the ‘circular beauty’ model. It is not easy, but it is possible. You need to be creative, test and research, and understand what is achievable now and what could be achieved in the future.

When it comes to living sustainably in everyday life, I don’t think specifically about being eco-conscious, for me, it is more about kindness. Kindness is my guiding philosophy. Being kinder to people, the planet, and animals. When you respect each other, you have everybody’s back, understand each other’s purpose, and come together collectively, then many things can be achieved.

Saying ‘no’ to zero-waste

At Adorn, we have taken a position to cease using the term ‘Zero-waste’ as we see it as misleading. It is near impossible to create a zero-waste consumable as there is some waste in the process that can’t be avoided. We prefer to educate our customers on the practicalities of circular beauty rather than zero waste cosmetics.

Circular beauty is a cradle-to-cradle model that aims to keep as many of the product’s elements in play over and over again for as long as possible. They are reused, recycled, reclaimed, upcycled and so on, hence the term, ‘circular beauty’.

I believe in sharing my knowledge for minimising waste and caring for the planet with anyone who dares listen. Over the years I have shared my tips and tricks. For example, how I repurpose Adorn parcel packaging as gift wrap, how to get the most out of your beauty products including how to multipurpose them, as well as how to get the last morsels of product out of tubes and pots. I have done so many live videos on these as our customers love learning new ways to embrace minimising waste and embracing sustainability. I adore plants and animals and if you see my Instagram account, it will show you who gets priority seating on the living room couch – and it’s not me, my husband or my boys.” – Briony Kennedy

This article originally appeared in the May-June 2023 print issue of Professional Beauty.

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