One of the most well-known and loved eco-friendly beauty brands out there, Tata Harper has made a mark on the beauty industry with one eye on sustainability and the other on consumer health and wellness. Hailing from her organic farm in Vermont, Harper’s ingredients are all sustainably sourced and her products as close to “farm-to-medicine cabinet” as you can get. We talked with Harper about how she disrupts — and in some cases elevates — standards for production in the beauty industry.
What makes your farm "sustainable"?
Our farm is certified organic, so we don't use any synthetic chemicals in our farming activity. All of the animals that live on the farm (cattle, horses, sheep) are grass-fed year round; in the winter, they're fed hay that we harvest in late summer. We have bees on our property for local pollination and we grow as many of the ingredients for our skincare products as possible on our farm — the climate in Vermont is the only obstacle to using our own ingredients 100 percent of the time. We process all ingredients on the property, too; we try to keep as many activities as vertically integrated as possible to cut down on the size of our environmental footprint.
How does the Tata Harper brand integrate sustainability? Is it a high priority to communicate Tata's mission to the consumer?
What's really unique about how Tata Harper Skincare operates as a beauty brand is that we are our own product manufacturers. All research and development, batching, packaging, order fulfillment and marketing takes place in-house. Typically, beauty companies outsource production so things are shipped all over the world before they wind up with the customer. Doing it all under one roof means the carbon footprint of our finished product is pretty small! We're also careful about the sustainability of our packaging choices and our paper and energy use.
As far as communicating our mission to the consumer, it's definitely a priority. We're part of a larger movement toward natural, healthy lifestyles and we do our part to spread awareness about the importance of having a safe, non-toxic beauty and personal care routine. That's really the core of our mission; a lot of people see the green-product movement as being driven by a concern for the environment, which is definitely a big part of it and very important. But it's also about our health, as people and consumers, and that's what we're really passionate about.
What are the primary concerns in choosing packaging materials?
Product compatibility is always a primary concern, but from there our goals are to source the most eco-friendly material possible, and we try to use glass wherever possible for recyclability.
What is Tata’s R&D process like?
It is definitely a long, extended process that begins with coming up with an idea for the finished product: What results do we want it to deliver? How do we want it to feel on the skin? And then we begin the R&D process! There are usually many, many iterations and various types of tests and trials that each one goes through, both in-house and through third parties. Finally, we arrive at a finished formula that meets our standards for being 100 percent natural and non-toxic, while being high-performance, cruelty-free and GMO-free, and then it's good to go. It can take years!
Since launching the brand, what has been the most satisfying piece of feedback you've received about your business model and/or sustainable agriculture practices?
It's always humbling and inspiring to receive emails from customers who are happy to find a beauty company whose business practices they believe in, and whose products deliver results they love. Plus, there's always a lot of enthusiasm that we hear from customers and from the press about the fact that we're our own manufacturers and that we grow many of our ingredients here.