Ethique - the successful beauty company delivering purpose and profit
Brianne West joins Purposely to share her founder story starting Ethique and most recently the Ethique Foundation.
Ethique is a for-profit company, driven by purpose. A highly successful beauty and lifestyle brand with products sold in 22 countries and a valuation of over $100 million - a real success story. However, talking with Brianne, it is clear it that profit is not the only metric they use to judge their success. As one of New Zealand’s founding B Corps, the company is living wage accredited, works with cooperatives around the world to source ingredients and donates 20% of profit to charity. Brianne and the Ethique team put even more value on how they impact people and the planet. Brianne loves the products she creates but is very clear that having a positive impact is her primary motivation,
‘I truly believe we can have a healthy, beautiful and awe-inspiring environment, with fairly shared equity amongst all, sustainable economic growth and that no one needs to be left behind. We just need to do things a little differently.’
Founded in 2012 from Brianne’s kitchen table, Ethique, initially named Sorbet, was the result of her entrepreneurial curiosity, an understanding of science plus learnings from some failed start-ups… including a Pet Detective Business she set up as a child. Originally from the Isle of Man in the UK, Brianne and her family migrated to New Zealand in the mid-nineties. Brianne talks about a happy childhood and loving parents although things just didn’t click for her at school, ‘I was good at doing just enough to get by’ pointing to her dislike of maths, a subject she despised, but something that made more sense to her later in life.
Fast forward to her 20’s and while she was studying towards a science degree, Brianne started to focus on particular issues, important issues that she could solve that might also present a business opportunity. She had a real focus on plastic and the damage it was causing to the environment. The other was the significant amounts of water found in our bathrooms in the likes of shampoo, conditioners, moisturisers, household cleaners and cosmetics, which are usually 60-95% water. Ethique was born and Brianne started to think about the possibility of making these products solid and simply sending the active ingredients direct to consumers, removing the plastic containers.
‘My first solid products were formulated in my kitchen, along with the idea of helping eliminate plastic from the global beauty industry. The overarching goal is to put a bar in every shower and to change consumers' behaviour’.
Brianne is best known for being a successful ‘for purpose entrepreneur’ , however, she also describes herself as an, ‘animal-obsessed, science-loving scuba diver with a love for exploring slightly unusual places’. Brianne is also straight talking, willing to share her time and resources and is committed to helping other entrepreneurs who share the same values.
A promise she has delivered on in is the formation of the Ethique charitable Foundation, which will make donations on behalf of the company to organisations that make a positive and lasting difference to people and the planet. Over the next four years the Ethique Foundation aims to donate $10 million to support regenerative business practices and ‘ help those with outstanding, scalable ideas create the change we need’. A key part of the strategy is the launch of the Ethique Fellowship, it will support conservation and rewilding efforts and will work with organisations to support biodiversity and champion those defending indigenous peoples rights. Since its beginnings in 2012, the company has donated at least 2% of annual sales to non-profit organisations protecting animal welfare, and biodiversity, and promoting conservation and human rights around the globe.
Ethique is proof that this is possible.