Burt’s Bees is a favourite for the consumer who seeks natural personal and skin care products, eschewing harsh chemicals and toxins used in many products sold today. With a dedication to creating products that meet the highest standards, as well as ensuring The Greater Good, Burt’s Bees products are carefully crafted using ingredients that are the best nature has to offer: beeswax, botanical and essential oils, herbs, flowers and minerals, with product lines for men, women and babies.
These safe, effective ingredients have withstood the test of time. Established in Canada 25 years ago, the American-based company was founded by Burt Shavitz (yes, there’s a real Burt!) and his partner Roxanne Quimby in Maine in 1984. Not your typical entrepreneurs, Burt and Roxanne were dedicated to living close to nature, and made a modest living selling beeswax and honey. They begun by selling hand-poured candles crafted from Burt’s leftover beeswax. Then they started making personal care products like the first beeswax lip balm, whose recipe was found in an old Farmer’s Almanac.
“Burt is really this simple guy who left New York City, led a simple life as a beekeeper, and created this fantastic company with entrepreneur-minded artist Roxanne Quimby,” says Burt’s Bees Canada Business Director Soula Kioussis.
The principles espoused by Burt and Roxanne are still the guiding principles of Burt’s Bees: a belief in the power of nature for nourishing effective skincare. Burt’s Bees believes nature has found a solution for almost everything. clary sage is a flower that thrives in a harsh, dry environment, for instance, so clary sage is an ideal plant in which to discover properties of moisture retention.
Despite the challenges of being a grassroots start-up, people started to notice Burt’s Bees products as a natural way to care for themselves. Soon, Burt’s Bees products went national, then to Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Latin America.
With its success, the company honed its dedication to sustainability, and formalized the principles Burt and Roxanne put in place. Now found in mass retailers, grocers and pharmacies, Burt’s Bees has a broad distribution chain in Canada, and has experienced high double digit growth over the past 20 years.
“Burt’s Bees has had a surge in popularity in Canada in the past few years, as people become more aware of what they put on and in their body, and they’re thinking about healthy habits,” says Kioussis. “It’s really become top of mind to use natural products as much as they can.”
“Customers are attracted to Burt’s Bees because we focus on being as close to nature as possible,” continues Kioussis. “Using things like clary sage, chamomile, pomegranate, beeswax of course – it’s our base for our lip balms – it is really about relying on time-tested ingredients.”
Burt’s Bees takes complex science and applies it to simple, wholesome ingredients. There are no special ventilation requirements at the company’s R&D lab, because the majority of the ingredients used are similar to what you’d find in home pantries. “You go in there and it looks almost like an industrial kitchen,” says Kioussis. “That really goes back to the simplicity of the ingredients and the ability to be able to work with them in an open area, and never with animal testing. That’s really what the base is all about – natural wholesome ingredients.”
In 2007, Burt’s Bees was purchased by The Clorox Company. Any initial eye raising about a perceived dichotomy in principles has been assuaged through time. The smaller Burt’s Bees company has had great influence on Clorox, who, 100 years into its history, responded to its customers’ care about health and wellness and the environment. The acquisition allowed Burt’s Bees to double the size of its R&D budgets, which helped fuel product innovation. From 2009 to 2012, Burt’s Bees products went from the average being 97 per cent natural to the average product being 99 per cent natural, with half being 100 per cent natural. And as of 2013, Clorox has made sustainability improvements to 35 per cent of its product portfolio.
“At Burt’s Bees, we really think about how Burt’s Bees can be part of a healthy lifestyle for people. We have fantastic natural products and so becoming a part of a healthier lifestyle, where we eat better, we put things on our skin that really nourish our skin rather than an ingredient that just has aesthetic value,” says Kioussis.
“We believe nature has an inherent wisdom and so we look for the answers in nature and bring the solutions into Burt’s Bees products.”