Natural and Organic Cosmetics
Hello Verónica. When and how did the Terai Natural Cosmetics project come about?
In October we have been in the market for four years, but the creation process began a little earlier. This project arises from personal circumstances, it comes from a more emotional part.
I come from the academic world, I did a doctorate in Finland and when I returned to Bilbao, I worked at the University of Santander going back and forth every day. I tried to do it in Bilbao and for a while I reflected on where I wanted to go and I always liked the world of nature, especially the chemistry of nature (phytochemistry), I opted for this world.
On the other hand, I made natural cosmetics at home, without economic interests, as a hobby. Finally I put it in common with my partner, who is also my partner and two other friends who are also Terai partners and we started the project.
Currently you have the physical store in Bilbao, the online store, as well as distribution in different parts of the peninsula. How has the expansion process been?
It has been a long process, with a lot of patience and work. What was initially born as a physical store, without distribution, once we opened, we realized that single-brand stores do not work unless they are stores with high rotation, but we saw a great interest in the brand.
As there was this demand, we started to distribute. In this case, there is no intermediary, the sale is direct. In the future, it may be that if we decide to enter another market, we may need an intermediary, but as far as possible, we try to avoid it. Then, by contacting directly with stores we would like to be in, we contact, send samples etc.
In your case Veronica, you come from the scientific field, when did your interest in natural cosmetics start and how did you find that by joining the scientific field and natural cosmetics, you could make it your livelihood?
It has been more emotional, at one point I asked myself what am I and what can I contribute? The ecological base, the ethical base and my taste for phytochemistry were the triggers.
As a consumer, I was interested in all these aspects and on the other hand, I saw that this could have an outlet on the market. Based on this, you see, you intuit or you want to believe, that there is an interest in people for this world. You see that natural cosmetics are getting more and more interest in the media, that more and more ecological supermarkets are opening, that the eco world has a trend (either for health issues, or for environmental issues…)
In my case, it has always been the initial thing was ecology and then the health benefit was added. It is an interest based on my scientific experience.
Aromatherapy, Ayurveda and Bach Flower Science are the main elements in the manufacture of your products. Explain to us what benefits these elements have for the skin and why these and not others?
Science gives you certainty, there are scientific studies that prove certain things. On the other hand, the skin is the reflection of the soul, your emotions affect your health and your body.
The skin, is one of the most important organs, is what is protecting you and prevents infection and the fact that it is not well cared for can cause more problems. On the other hand, the way we have been taking care of our skin so far is not very beneficial.
Let’s say we were using oil products and oil is lifeless and because it’s lifeless, it doesn’t have oxygen. You have to feed the body, not put a plastontium on top of it. Since you have to feed the skin, you have to take into account that the skin allows certain things to permeate and these can affect your body, such as pesticides, which have to be ecological, yes or yes.
The use of perfumes also seems to me to be essential in the process, since as much the perfumes as the use of essential oils, affect your emotional state. Aromatherapy is scientifically proven, although here it is not considered science, in France for example, it is. Finally, Ayurbeda, which is a science from India that proves and Bach flowers, which is something I have tried for a long time and it works. I have to check that what I use, works, is not a marketing tool. All these elements, I found it interesting to combine them.
Here in your Bio-Bilbao centre, apart from selling to the public and making the products, you give talks and workshops. What are these workshops like and how is the clientele being received?
The workshops are related to well-being, it is a complement to the treatments. In our project, the informative part, had also an important weight and through these workshops, we try to improve the welfare of our customers. Themes such as “Organize your wardrobe”, “Emotional dependence”, “Macrobiotic nutrition”, “Use of natural plants”, or “Natural cosmetics”…are some of the ones treated in our workshops.
Initially, the workshops were totally free, but people did not show much seriousness and maybe, they signed up and did not come, leaving other people without the possibility of attending the courses. Now, we decided to charge 5 ? as a token and they are entirely destined to an NGO, to really filter the person interested in the course.
This did have an impact on the aspect that there was not so much demand anymore. I think that before, when the subject of the disclosures started, when a symbolic price was set, people paid them without any problem, because the offer was starting, people wanted to know and they appreciated it more.
It is true that I believe that there is a saturation in the market of this type of course, but we believe that our offer is different and for the moment, it is being well received.
Today’s consumer is increasingly informed, increasingly aware of the dangers of using parabens, preservatives and petroleum-based materials. How do you contribute to the sustainable use of materials for the benefit of the customer?
The certifications of the components we use, prove it. The ingredients are vegetable ingredients and I choose these ingredients precisely because of their traceability. The customer can come to the store and check that the ingredients used are 100% certified organic farming, also on the packaging, the customer can identify which are the organic ingredients because they have an asterisk on them.
In the world of cosmetics, in recent years there has been a boom in natural cosmetics, almost all major brands have their green line of products, however, the debate is still there, have they joined the trend to take advantage of the boom in eco-marketing? Does a green label makes a product organic? What do you think about this debate?
I think a green label does not make a product green. I think the big brands are taking advantage, but I think the small ones are too. Because there are few laboratories, but there are more and more brands and normally these people do not manufacture but go to another laboratory to be manufactured.
For example we have started with a line that is “third party manufacturing” for a brand that does not have enough knowledge/tools to manufacture, but it is still ecological.
On my opinion this is a trend that many people are joining, but I think that the one who really has it inside will survive. The one that is authentic, will survive.
In Terai Cosmetics you value your Bilbao character and craftsmanship. What does this mean and how important is it for you?
It is a way of defending ourselves against the ecological cosmetics that are in trend. It is a way of saying that we are authentic, from Bilbao. It is a way of showing our personality as a brand, our Bilbao character.
I defend a modern craft, complying with all health regulations, a craft with all the guarantees and professionalism. There are other brands with perhaps more resources and marketing tools, which serve to spread ecological cosmetics.
Our role in the market is to provide that closeness, that Bilbao character that perhaps other brands do not provide.
Both in Bilbao and in other cities, well-known brands from the world of natural cosmetics have been established. To what extent has this affected your business positively or negatively? What makes you different?
Positively, in that it saves us marketing resources when it comes to disseminating and teaching people that the ecological is necessary, from the point of view of sustainability and a healthy life. The negative, which if it is not true, as other brands do, can have negative consequences on consumers.
These brands offer prices with which we cannot compete, but I honestly believe that there are small brands that do not manufacture or that have less chemical knowledge, or that do not even go through sanitation, that can do more harm to people than the big brands.
AS A REFLECTION
The reflection is that the echo world is necessary, I do not conceive anything else, but people must be more analytical. You don’t have to be a chemist to understand a label, there are certain guidelines you can ask. People must be analytical and ask questions.
In my case, I am not a chemist and I have no knowledge of cosmetics. What would I have to look at on a label for the product to give me some credibility?
The basis is that the ingredients appear, if an ingredient does not appear, discard it, because it is illegal. On the other hand, even if you don’t know chemistry, you can identify a name in Latin. The more Latin names there are and the higher up the table, the better the product. With these two tricks, you can more or less know the quality of an organic product.
On the other hand, for example, brands that have glycerin as a second supplement, it is also better to avoid them, because in small amounts, glycerin moisturizes, but in high amounts, it dries the skin and is also used to make the formula cheaper.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t look at those brands that are based on “Sin”, because in a way, you are creating a social alarm. It’s better to rely on the positive properties of a product, not the negative ones, not to create a need in the consumer through fear.
To conclude, what would you recommend to our readers of the Eko Blog if they are looking for a good skin care?
I recommend a good skin care at night, since it is the time when they have more time to take effect. Cleanliness is essential, but you don’t have to be obsessed, just cleanse once a day, that’s enough and finally, if your skin is more mature, a serum would be perfect.
It is important to combine the treatments, instead of doing just one and above all, be aware and consistent with your skin care.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration Verónica, we wish you all best with Terai Cosmética, a necessary sustainable game changer project within the cosmetics industry.