Beautiful Thinking.

Champion The Change Makers: The brands supporting sustainable farming at its roots

During April, our co-founder and Managing Partner, Nick, joined a panel discussion on a topic which featured a host of speakers who truly inspired those in attendance.

The topic which they attempted to cover in this single compelling session, was the realm of brand purpose.

One of the speakers was Sabrina Elba, founder of S’Able Labs, which she launched alongside her husband, Idris Elba. The brand was launched with the goal of bringing melanin-inclusive skincare to all who seek support for skin that is sensitive to issues such as hyper pigmentation. However during the panel, Sabrina also discussed another key purpose and mission of the brand – to ensure sustainable sourcing of ingredients in order to protect the small farms of Africa. 

Sabrina herself is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, where she supports the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). It was therefore of significant importance that when she and her husband launched their own collection of genderless skincare products, they did so using ingredients that were responsibly sourced. She sought to work in collaboration with small farmers, to not only ensure that she was protecting their livelihood and their environment, but to ensure that these farmers better understand a process which they can benefit from. This is in stark comparison to many major pharmaceutical companies, where small farmers are often overlooked in favour of cheaper and far less sustainable or eco-friendly mass-farming organisations.

Their work with IFAD, as well as organisations such as Farm Africa (which 15% of S’Able Labs sales goes to), ensures that these small farmers can support themselves, building a robust livelihood which supports them and reduces their need to rely on aid. In a previous interview Sabrina shared that

“there's a time and a place for aid, but it's not sustainable. People need to be able to work and take care of themselves. But a lot of the time, the infrastructure isn't there.”

During the panel, Sabrina touched on an occasion where, during a visit to a farmer’s land in Somalia, her mother was helping them to complete the DHL forms necessary for their work together to proceed, as they had never undertaken this process in this way before.  

Support for sustainable farming and small-scale farmers is of greater importance than ever before, due to the impact of global warming. Extreme weather conditions which result from the rising temperatures of our planet are putting increasing pressure on the ecosystems which these farmers depend upon. For these individuals, global warming is not something they fear in the future, it is happening now, and it is affecting their living conditions and their livelihood. 

The beauty industry is dependent upon nature to produce the ingredients and final packaged products which make up such a profitable industry. With many brands launching products that are steeped in scientific, efficacious ingredients, many forget that these very ingredients are borne of nature. 

In recent years there has been a greater spotlight and therefore many positive changes occurring, the use of palm oil as a prime example. More than ever the focus on industrial farming reveals the damage caused by the use of chemicals as well as factors such as monocropping, where a single crop is grown in one place time and time again. 

Brands which champion the soil in which their ingredients are grown, not only support the environment and protect its future for ongoing production in a healthy ecosystem, it also ensures that the final, finished product is of a higher quality and is more efficacious. 

Nutrient-dense soil, achieved through regenerative farming, is made possible through the exclusive use of natural and organic methods, eschewing harmful chemicals and pesticides that ultimately have a negative effect on the skin and the body. Healthy soil that is rich in nutrients results in thriving ecosystems which not only cater to a broader variety of plants (a diversity which continues to feed the healthy soil it thrives in), the biodiversity supports wildlife in the region alongside an abundant plant life that creates a wider number of ingredients.

It is little wonder that skincare leaders such as Clarins are making investments in their ingredients, at their very source. This April, the household-name beauty brand announced its purchase of Domaine Sainte Colombe in France, a 115-hectare site that will become a production and processing location for cultivation of plants that will supply the raw ingredients for Clarins’ formulas. The company’s goal is to grow one third of the plants needed to produce Clarins’ ingredients by 2030. 

“I am proud of this strategic advance towards an integrated, more vertical, ethical and sustainable supply. For 70 years, Clarins has harnessed the science of plants to develop ever more effective and innovative cosmetic formulas. The acquisition of the Domaine illustrates this approach of continued progress towards more excellence, safety and traceability, for all our clients.”

Virginie Courtin, Clarins Managing Director

At the same location, Clarins plans to open a laboratory which will also study new plant species. The announcement marks a significant step in beauty companies which, like S’Able Labs, hold themselves accountable to transparency at every point in the supply chain. 

With the growing demand from customers for greater transparency, authenticity and accountability in the products they consume, brands which are not in step with S’Able Labs and Clarins will quickly fall behind.

Are you up to the challenge?

FTB Free The Birds
Sign up for our monthly news and views