By Susan Griffin-Black, founder of Small World Trading Co.
When Brad and I started Small World Trading Co. in 1995, we weren’t thinking about changing the personal care industry. All we knew was that we loved essential oils and we wanted to make products that reflected our moderately wholesome, organic and natural lifestyle. Early on we discovered the challenges of making products the way we wanted to make them: beautiful, healthy, safe and gentle.
We wanted our products to be good for us, our customers and the planet, so we decided to create products from organically grown or wildcrafted plants. That was a challenge from day one.
I remember having to make a tough decision about the white tea we use for an herbal infusion. Should we get it from the highlands of China where the wildcrafted plants have been growing there for 2000 years and are harvested by generations of farmers without ever being certified? The quality was beautiful, the price was better. But we decided to use a supplier from India who was organically certified. We made choices based on quality, but we also made choices based on transparency and trust. In a time when “natural” was being used to describe aerosol, organic certification made a difference.
But, we chose not to label our company as organic even though we manufacture products that are certified organic as approved by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). We made this choice because there are no guidelines for organic personal care like the ones that exist for food. So we take the higher road and only label the products that meet the USDA Food Grade Standard of what defines organic.
"Organic" in personal care is frequently used as a marketing term to capture sales in the ever-greening marketplace. The word “organic” does not belong on the front panel of a label (even if it’s incorporated into the brand name) unless the ingredients and manufacturing process are truly certified organic and recognized as such by the USDA.
We believe in organic. This standard is an integrated part of our company, lifestyle and philosophy. This is why we have chosen to manufacture our own products onsite and become a certified organic manufacturer.
All of our products contain certified organic ingredients. And some of our products meet the USDA Food Grade Organic Standard. These products proudly bear the USDA certified organic seal.
Since we were already creating products that were good for us and good for the planet, we also sought certification from the non-GMO project. We were the first personal care company to approach them and we both had to figure out how to make it work. We learned so much along the way! For example, the alcohol in hand sanitizers commonly comes from GMO corn. So, instead of buying corn-based alcohol, we searched until we found a source for organic sugar-based alcohol so we could create a hand sanitizer that was organic and non-GMO.
We proudly became the first non-GMO personal care company in 2011. We’ve been followed by a few companies since and we hope to see many more. A sustainable world depends on a clean, safe, accessible and transparent choice for our customers and community.
The partnerships we’ve formed as we’ve created more transparency in our company help provide a better livelihood for organic farmers and empower our customers to make cleaner personal choices. We all thrive by creating authentic relationships with people who are focused on a sustainable future: each other, our customers, growers, vendors and the wider community. Our tagline “Love Life. Live Clean” guides our choices every day as we head into the future. We aim to do both and have as much fun as possible along the way.
Susan Griffin-Black is the co-founder and co-CEO of Small World Trading Company, the parent company of two leading personal care brands: EO and EveryOne. For 20 years Susan has been a pioneer of the personal care industry, and has built a successful, exemplary company rooted in responsible business practices. Susan is an expert on safe, healthy personal care products and essential oils.