UK indie brand MuLondon eyes growth to deepen ‘positive impact’ on society and environment
Established in 2008, MuLondon offered a small range of moisturisers and cleansers that were ‘inspired by traditional herbalism’, made using natural certified organic ingredients, essential oils and herbal extracts like frankincense, myrrh, rosehip and rosemary. All its products were available online and in a select number of small, independent stockists throughout the UK and Europe. The company was most recently recognised for its dedication to societal change at the inaugural East London Innovators Campaign where its work as an environmentally-friendly skin care brand that supported local community projects was acknowledged.
Securing sustainable beauty supply chains
MuLondon was Certified B Corporation and a member of the global network 1% For The Planet where it pledged 1% of annual profits to non-profits that protected the environment. Boris Zatezic, founder of MuLondon, said sustainability was front-and-centre of everything the brand did and would continue to be as the company expanded.
“What I love doing is asking my suppliers a number of questions before we start working with them. They probably don’t love it as much because it’s a lot of work for them. [I ask them] about sustainability practices; fair labour practices; about their sourcing; how the ingredients are manufactured; about their energy usage, which gives me a picture of what they stand for. Also, I can often see from their willingness on responding to these questions how much this means to them,” Zatezic told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
Working within the guidelines and framework of the Soil Association and B Corp, he said, also gave MuLondon a thorough reference point when approaching new suppliers or working with existing ones on a new ingredient.
Slow retail expansion and NPD plans
Zatezic said MuLondon was now ready to expand beyond its current e-commerce reach and small-scale independent retail network so it could drive deeper change.
“It’s important that we grow, not for the sake of growth, but for the sake of making a bigger impact,” he said.
“I believe what I’m doing with the business, the way the products are made, and what they stand for has a positive impact on our society and environment, and it’s important that growth continues in a sustainable and ethical way.”
MuLondon would continue to consider its retail partners carefully, he said, ensuring each aligned with the brand’s values; even if that meant growing slowly.
The brand would also invest efforts in expanding its range beyond skin care, Zatezic said. It was currently developing a room and linen mist spray, for example, that would stretch MuLondon’s reach into home care and household products.
“My passion is herbal extracts and essential oils and I love how they can lift you up instantly. The sense of smell is the only one that’s not processed – it’s very primal, very personal, very emotional –so, I would love to create a whole range of products for the home, from room sprays to candles and even laundry detergents.”
Indie competition, green washing and inclusivity
Asked if he was worried about increased competition in the indie beauty space, Zatezic said: “To be honest, no (…) Yes, it can be relevant to look at what everybody else is doing, but all us indie brands have our unique viewpoint and the way we formulate our products and our vision and values.”
What Zatezic said he was worried about was the significant problem of greenwashing in the wider beauty category. And so, as MuLondon expanded, it would value certifications and collaborations even more.
“In the end, a lot of our smaller indie sustainable brands are trying to do something we believe in, that can better the world and society we live in. So, I think collaboration will become quite important. I’m open to that – I’d love to see where that goes. I’ve been talking to a couple of companies within the UK B-Corp community to see what we can do there, so I’m really excited to see where that leads.”
Zatezic said MuLondon would also continue to stand for societal change and diversity, following on from its support for UK LGBT rights campaign group and charity Stonewall and participation in US reality TV competition RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“I think there are many aspects to our world and our society, and inclusivity on so many levels is so important, especially now. I think, as small brands and big brands, we have a responsibility to not always do what’s right but also help educate our customers and show what we stand for. Especially in these times, we can’t be scared to show what we stand for and believe in,” he said.