Launched in January 2022 by six founding brands, the B Corp Beauty Coalition ‘B Beauty’ was an alliance of more than 50 certified B Corp companies of varying size operating in the beauty industry, including manufacturers and suppliers, with 11 companies sitting on a supervisory board. The overarching goal of the coalition was to drive open sustainable collaboration amongst beauty industry B Corps, with the wider aim of creating impact outside of certified organisations. The coalition had three working groups looking at ingredient sourcing, packaging and logistics, with work set to be peer-reviewed and published via a ‘B Beauty Navigator’ tool in Spring 2023 – available to anyone in beauty, for free.
Startups and corporates an ‘intriguing’ mix
Shaun Russell, chair of the supervisory board at B Beauty and founder of Danish B Corp Skandinavisk, one of the six founding brands, said the diverse nature of the coalition meant there was plenty of promise to create true impact.
“We are very much a coalition of big and small, of entrepreneurs and startups versus corporate and scale, and it’s that friction in these early stages which I find extremely intriguing and offering a tremendous potential,” Russell told attendees at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Paris earlier this month.
He said the overall purpose of the coalition was to “improve the sustainability standards of the beauty industry” through collaboration and exchange and sharing best practice at pre-competitive level.
“We believe, once we get moving, this isn’t just about establishing the status quo, it’s about working together to pioneer innovation, together as a coalition or individual members.”
The aim would be for innovation outcomes to be reported and shared in an open-source manner, he said, which could ultimately enable change within the coalition itself but also beyond.
“Our membership criteria are specific to B Corps operating in the beauty space, but we’re very open to sharing information beyond our coalition. We are not a walled garden. It’s all about making sure we can enable the most significant change within industry.”
Re-thinking the beauty consumer
One key aspect Russell said would be key to creating future sustainable change was how industry thought about its consumers.
“[The phrase] beauty consumer appears in almost every piece of literature, it is inherent, incipient in our industry. And while I may be a novice in your industry, I have 50 years of experience in the English language, and I have a different interpretation of the phrase beauty consumer that I’d like to share with you: An individual who is encouraged to actively contribute to the destruction of the beauty of nature in order to satisfy their own ego.
“…I know it’s painful, it should be. Because if we’re all here trying to make change, part of the change I think we can make is how we can define things, as much as what we do,” he said.
Russell said instead of using the term ‘beauty consumer’, industry ought to instead use ‘beauty citizen’. The word citizen, he said, represented a “very different role of individuals or consumers in societies” and the phrase ‘beauty citizen’ defined “an individual who is conscious of their role in society and is keen to protect the beauty of nature as to improve their own sense of beauty”.
“…I believe there is an opportunity for us, particularly given we are fortunate enough to have the word ‘beauty’ within our industry (…) If we can all be beauty citizens, if your customers can all be considered beauty citizens, then perhaps that can help the tremendous work you’re all doing.”