Most Popular in:


Email This Item! Print This Item!

20 To Know

By: Karen A. Newman, Jeff Falk, Leslie Benson
Posted: January 7, 2009, from the January 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 4 of 7

Basing his in-house R&D approach on ancient Greek holistic philosophy, as well as his experience as a pharmacist and a beekeeper, Apivita’s founder, Nikos Koutsianas, has produced natural personal care products since the 1970s—long before the world embraced the trend. Sourcing most of his raw ingredients from the local countryside, he relied on Greece’s abundant flora—more than 5,000 plants, including sea fennel and dittany of Crete—and his bee products, including organic honey, royal jelly, beeswax and propolis, to develop the 50,000 formulas that have made Apivita a success in more than 3,000 Greek pharmacies and spas, and in new flagship stores in Hong Kong and beyond.

“Natural and organic products are now the fastest-growing category of the cosmetics industry with an annual rate of development of 17%,” Koutsianas says. “There are two ways to create such effective products: science and nature. The brands that succeed in combining both to deliver results will be head of the class. Apivita launched a line of bespoke cosmetics as early as in 1990 and is planning to expand it in the future.” The first of such expansions involved the launch of Apivita’s Queen Bee in 2008, a firming serum with royal jelly for mature skin.“We are, however, leaders in shampoos—selling more than 600,000 bottles a year, with a market share close to 40% in Greek pharmacies,” says Koutsianas.

Since formulating Apivita’s first shampoos in his pharmacy lab, Koutsianas’ R&D approach has evolved, but his roots still remain. “Our new ‘go green’ approach includes one of Greece’s first, bio-climate type production plants,” he says. “State-of-the-art filters are used to keep gas emissions as low as possible. Also, a standard unit of biological cleaning uses the water from the liquid waste for the garden around the plant. In addition, solar systems utilize renewable sources of energy and reduce the levels of energy loss. The whole plant is designed to be of low nuisance to the community and hopefully an inspiration for the people toward a more natural way of life.”

The Sabara Family, Beraca

Founded by Ubirajará Sabará in 1956 as a chlorine distributor, Beraca threw its hat into the beauty ring in 1991, distributing jojoba oil. Ten years later, under the guidance of its president, Ulisses Sabará, the company made a strategic decision to make sustainability its business focus and an integral part of its activities—a decision fostered by the Sabará family’s leadership in various corporate positions and adopted by the company as a whole with the goal of making this mind-set the global norm.

“[The mission] began in the 1990s when [Ulisses] was looking for a reliable partner in the Amazon region to supply non-timber goods in an effort to slow its deforestation,” said Daniel Sabará, chief executive, health and personal care division. “At that time, discussions regarding social and environmental issues in the health and personal care market were quite rare. It started with a few people inside the company. Fortunately, today the message of sustainability has spread within the company and is being spread [globally] through its customer and supplier relationships.”

The company’s activities and businesses that could not be aligned with its mission statement were divested, and the mission itself is evaluated on a daily basis—with the impact of day-to-day business on the mission considered before decisions are finalized. And the company encourages the companies it works with to practice this evaluation as well.

“Customers are challenged to review their mind-set to create a virtuous circle of sustainable values and practices,” said Sabará. “It is certainly an ongoing process … to discover ways to maintain and increase the vision every time a new daily challenge is faced.

“We are all stewards of socio-environmental issues. Seed collecting by local communities in the Amazon rain forest, for example, is everyone´s business. We are all responsible for the big picture, which is our planet. That responsibility starts by understanding that, as a consumer or as a organization, we must require from our suppliers and partners a stand on true commitment to sustainability.”

Zein Obagi, MD, Dermatologist and Founder, Zo Skin Health