PB: Tell us what inspired you to develop the CULTIVATECO. range and what can we expect moving forward?
“We are a group of professionals with an absolute passion for people and the planet. Our team has been actively dedicated to researching and developing 100% plant-based wellness products for several years. Our goal is to create premium, healthy and effective products that anyone, from any walk of life and of any age, will be comfortable using, benefit from and absolutely love. As a company, we seek excellence in our approach and aspire to be the absolute best in the market.”
PB: Can you share with us the hero ingredients in your products?
“We mix the best plant ingredients with the best scientific knowledge and the best formulators to bring the best skin and wellness products to our customers. We want to always be on the cutting edge of wellness technology, bringing new hero-actives and products to the market as we move forward. It is difficult to single out only a few ingredients as we put a great deal of time and effort in selecting the best every time, yet as someone with highly reactive, sensitive skin the hemp seed oil base of our signature serum stands out for its calming and hydrating properties. Kakadu plum and ucuuba are two ingredients with a long and consequential history of traditional medicine use and it’s easy to see why; I particularly love the fact that ucuuba is ultra-hydrating but is so light and non-greasy. It really feels very luxurious on your skin. Moringa is not called the Miracle Tree without reason; it has such an impressive nutrient profile for overall health and numerous benefits for the skin.
But almost as important as what’s IN our products is what´s OUT! There are absolutely NO parabens, sulphates, phthalates, animal products, petrochemical derivatives or synthetic fragrances. All CULTIVATECO. products are 100% natural, 100% vegan and cruelty-free and 100% sustainably sourced, and we are on an incredible mission to reach 100% plant-based ingredients in all of our products.”
Let’s face it, 2020 was a tough year. How did you develop the product during this time?
“A significant component of the development process is very sensory, which required greater patience with extended timelines and the necessity to adapt our methods. But after a tumultuous final year in development, we have released our premiere range — a complete skin and body care offering of nine products, incorporating soughtafter and new-to-market plant powerhouse ingredients.”
Tell us about your range…
“Our launch product is our signature serum GLOWRIOUS™, a 100% plant formulation that does it all. It’s the one product I never skip no matter how busy! The range has everything you need, from everyday essentials such as CLEAN CANVASTM foaming cleanser to DEWY DAYSTM all-in-1 mist. BALM2CALMTM is another product I have with me everywhere; again a 100% plant ingredient multi-purpose product for lips, skin and even brows and hair. And for your weekly deep clean and exfoliation to allow all of the product to work effectively, our DIG DEEPTM plant and clay mask reveals renewed, fresh skin.
A night-time routine is taken care of with our intensive care for eyes I.C.U.TM, and the luxurious CRÈME DE LA CRÈME™ day/night cream for extended hydration. And the body isn’t left out either! Our rich lathering, smooth as silk BODI BARE™ body wash followed by the soothing hydration of FONDUE METM body butter will leave your whole body beautifully clean, soft and hydrated. I love the lingering aroma I get after using these two products — the scent is so uplifting and fresh.”
All of our products are formulated for sensitive skin, something I can attest to with highly reactive and sensitive skin! Every product is rigorously tested for safety and stability during development, and we are in the process, within the unpredictable timeframes of a world in revolving lockdowns at the moment, of completing our clinical testing. I look forward to sharing these independent assessments of what our products can do for our customers.”
What has the reaction been like to the range?
“We have had fantastic feedback from our customers and testing volunteers, and we’re incredibly proud of the team and the beautiful products we have launched so far this year.”
Can you tell me a bit about the origins of CULTIVATECO.?
“The CULTIVATECO. story has evolved over many years as passionate people on parallel paths have come together from all over the world and merged their synergistic experiences. We come from professions as diverse as the beauty and wellness industries, scientists (including botanists), dermatologists, chemists and formulators, as well as eco-agriculturalists and experts in logistics, investment and governance and community and social specialists. What ties us together is a very genuine commitment to wholistic personal wellness and a healthy planet.”
How did the concept come to fruition?
“A few years ago, our founding team came together and were discussing our experiences and efforts during the course of our careers and, more particularly, how we might have had more of an impact on the world. We had a lightbulb moment and committed to an absolutely clean-sheet range of pure plant-based skincare products, using the best available ingredients from around the world. We knew that we could bring to the table a lot of the key elements… organic, regenerative agriculture, cosmeceutical formulation, skin care and beauty products, wholesale and retail experience, international corporate management, and that we could wrap it up with our experience in developing-nation education, gender equality, social and economic project execution.”
What is the ethos behind the range?
“The bottom line is that we wanted to bring the best-in-class, all-plant skincare products to the market, while at the same time remaining absolutely committed to positively impacting the world through active engagement in supporting developing nations. That’s why we not only talk about the UN Agenda 2030 and the 17 sustainable development goals, but we actively work to advance those we can. They are real to us and we want to take our customers on that incredible journey with us.”
Your company is also big on giving back. Tell us about that…
“We have started and continue to support programmes in Latin America and Africa, and it’s amazing to see the very real changes that we can all have on families around the planet through the choices we make in our daily lives here. We will continue to expand our footprint with direct involvement in more programmes, with an additional key goal to be actively sourcing sustainable products and ingredients from communities on every continent over the coming years.” Can you tell us more about your sustainability efforts and what sort of community programmes are being supported through the UN Agenda 2030 commitment? “The concept of sustainability has evolved in recent years to include future-focused practices that work towards the regeneration of a healthy planet that can support our human existence in harmony, in perpetuity. We have to shift our actions to fit a circular economy model: design out waste, keep resources in use through recycling and repurposing, and regenerate the environment. Moving on from the linear take-make-dispose model as a hangover of the industrial revolution will see genuine progress in achieving sustainability across all sectors. The beauty industry has in the past been a significant contributor to waste and unsustainable resource use. However, it is encouraging to see so many brands and businesses taking steps to be more sustainable. CULTIVATECO. is looking to lead by example and to make every decision point a contribution to a better planet, including healthier people.”
Explain to us CULTIVATECO.’s global sustainability initiatives as part of the three primary concepts.
“We have a very clear set of objectives when it comes to sourcing primary ingredients. We give absolute priority to purchasing from family and community owned producers, with a requirement that they be managed with regenerative, organic practices. We give preference to ingredients supplied from their natural point of origin, and we have numerous suppliers that are community collectives and indigenous-owned organisations.
A great example of how environmental and socio-economic sustainability are fundamentally linked can be seen in the production of one of our favoured ingredients — ucuuba. The ucuuba tree is native to the Amazon Basin in South America and, while it has a long history of traditional medicine use by indigenous communities of the area, in modern times the tree has been cut down for wood as a source of income within the forest economy. But as it’s a slow-growth tree, this was not sustainable, and the ucuuba became endangered. However, by understanding the traditional uses and knowledge of the plant, and through modern scientific research, the health benefits of the ucuuba nut, particularly for the skin, have evolved the industry. The Amazon communities have shifted to a sustainable model where the tree fruit is harvested, propogated and managed in the wild forest, providing a far greater recurring income for communities than when wood was the primary resource, while also protecting the biodiversity of the environment.”
“Every step of the design process has the potential to positively impact our sustainability footprint. Our packaging materials and technology have been meticulously researched to comply with our eco-packaging aspirations. All the materials that we use must be recyclable at minimum and biodegradable or compostable wherever possible. We always favour materials that have already been recycled prior to our use. At present we are predominantly using glass in our packaging. Glass is infinitely recyclable so, rather than constantly extracting new resources from the planet, we are putting existing material back into the circular economy so it gets used over and over again. When the technology is there to make suitable bioplastics the better choice, we will incorporate these into our products, and already our labels are printed on bio-based plastics using recycling friendly adhesives.
Post packaging can be particularly wasteful but we are very happy that we have achieved a completely compostable solution, including raw cardboards, ink-free labelling, plant pulp homecompostable mailing bags and plant starch packing beans. We also use carbon-neutral delivery partners.
We are really looking forward to introducing innovative new packaging elements later this year that further our sustainability goals. We are excited to be working with a European design and innovation group on a range of new high-tech packaging components. It is always gratifying to work with like-minded suppliers and partners to push the boundaries of what is currently available, to not be limited by what is, but lead the way to what will be.”
Finally, investment into programmes that achieve UN Agenda 2030 standing.
“As our group has been continuously involved in community development programmes in developing nations for over 20 years, it’s hard to know when the CULTIVATECO. commitment began. It’s always been there!
Indigenous peoples have an incredible wealth of knowledge about the natural world, with cultures across the world having thousands of years of traditional medicine, cultural practice and environmentally harmonious resource use centered on native flora. By seeking to understand and learn from that knowledge, we aim to incorporate this significantly under-valued expertise into the mainstream wellness and skincare space, while respecting and supporting the recognition of and economic rights to the benefits of that knowledge via partnership and development programmes.
Our active programmes include the Socialis Foundation programmes in Colombia´s southern Nariño district, where the UN-trained team has completed a nine-month social baseline in an impoverished and violence-stricken region. The project also includes an alliance to develop an organic farming research centre where three launch programmes have already begun: the cultivation and extraction of plant medicinals, family and community food-forests and finally a community education and life skills centre for knowledge exchange and learning.
We are also actively supporting the Rio Rayo project in northern Colombia, where an extensive land rehabilitation project is underway. The objective is to raise and plant over 1 million trees on illegal-mining-damaged land. The key partners in this project include the Hacienda Rio Rayo farm and FUNDAMUET, which is the unemployed heads-of-family women’s cooperative from the community of Tarazá, where 108 mothers-of-families are now being employed.
In addition, CULTIVATECO. is developing the Ross & Locke Eco-Regenerative farm in Far North Queensland. It’s a small slice of paradise and our primary research property, focused on better understanding the wealth of native Australian and other exotic botanical species with wellness and therapeutic properties. The property is 100% off-grid and provides CULTIVATECO. with an all-important carbon-negative footprint.”
What are some of the challenges you face?
“Achieving a pure plant-based preservation system is a challenging aspect of formulation. There are a number of plantbased preservatives available, however in some formulations their functional efficacy is insufficient to ensure the high level of consumer safety and shelf life we demand of our products. Innovations are happening every day and this is an area where we are dedicating a lot of research effort.”
“As with all aspects of our development, and in particular with packaging, it’s an ongoing process of research and testing as new products and materials come onto the market, and in particular bio-based materials designed to replace traditional plastics. While these innovations present fantastic opportunities, it takes time to assess the suitability of new materials and products. So long as we both demand more from our suppliers and actively contribute to knowledge and development of new products and processes, progress will continue to be made.
The wonderful thing about a challenge is it is a lightning rod of opportunity to do things better and more sustainably, to push boundaries and innovate and find new solutions.”
Share with us the vision going forward with your future CULTIVATECO. product releases…
“Our development and release pipeline over the next few years is really exciting. Staying true to our 100% plant-based mission and expanding our wellness offerings, we are working to deliver cannabinoid enhanced skincare in our CULTIVATECO.+ range; as well as a dedicated masculine skincare range, CULTIVATECO. Man; an intimate products range, CULTIVATECO. After Dark; and one I am especially excited about, CULTIVATECO. Ink, for pre-tattoo skin preparation and aftercare. We are also working on a baby and toddler range, which takes the same principle that every one of our products is suitable for sensitive skin and targets the specific needs of our littlest humans. Busy, exciting times ahead!”
This article originally appeared in the May-June issue of Professional Beauty magazine.
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