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Sourced in the USA

By: Sara Mason
Posted: November 26, 2012, from the December 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Many wineries pay to have the pommace—or the seeds and skins left over after a vintner crushes grapes—hauled out after harvest each season, and beauty brands can benefit from this type of knowledge. “Any time you are sourcing local ingredients, you are building ties in your community by supporting the local economy and agriculture, and—in our case—solving someone’s trash issues,” Cotte notes. “This is a wine-loving community, so the connection of using the winemakers’ waste as the base of the line and giving the grape seeds a second life by recycling them into skin care products strengthened and widened our customer base.” Consequently, the popularity of the brand has been such that, one year and nine months after opening its flagship store in 2010, The Grapeseed Company was able to open its second brick-and-mortar location in southern California.

Founding a company on such a cause is evidence to consumers that the brand is an ecologically responsible company. “Each skin care box tells our story of turning wine waste into vinotherapy skin care,” explains Cotte. With rising gas costs, people also are becoming more aware of the impact of sourcing ingredients and supplies from elsewhere and transporting them to a manufacturing destination, which impacts both the both the environment and the end product. “Aside from the buying local movement, I think people identify with local ingredients immediately because they’re already familiar with the benefits,” says Cotte.

East Coast

Versante, a beauty brand that offers boutique-style bath and body care products featuring ingredients in handcrafted recipes, captures the essence of its home state of Vermont, a region known for its commitment to natural living, a beautiful landscape and thriving agriculture. The all-natural body care line lives in its simplicity, featuring plant-driven compositions without harsh chemicals or preservatives. Hand-batched formulations are processed in a 2,000-square-foot production facility in the small town of Charlotte, Vermont, along Lake Champlain. “The small batches means our product is always fresh,” explains Richard Eyre, co-founder of Versante.

Versante works with regional suppliers to keep money in state and to support local farmers. The area’s thriving agriculture has led to the manufacture and sale of artisan and fancy foods and novelty items trading on the Vermont “brand”—such as Cabot Cheese, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream—as well as the trend toward local farming and the farm-to-table movement. “People want locally sourced products, and tourists appreciate it,” says Eyre. So, for example, “We buy from local farmers for our goats milk around the [Vermont communities] Hartland and Brigdewater areas.”

Sourcing locally also typically means no preservatives and fresher ingredients with limited chemical/pesticides. To Eyre and Versante, it’s also beneficial to not be wasting energy and shipping products from other areas. The Versante brand story focuses on its origins, with locally sourced ingredients subtly substantiating the brand image of quality and purity of Vermont life. “We only used plant-derived [ingredients], essential oils, no synthetic fragrances, which limits us, but we keep it pure,” Eyre explains.

And while not everything is sourced from the region, Versante tries to do so as much as possible. “We use as many locally sourced ingredients as we can,” Eyre says, and from essential oils and salts to olive oil and goat milk, locally sourced ingredients are used in a variety of the brand’s products, such as the lavender and goat milk found in Lavender & Litsea Goat Milk Soap. The goat’s milk adds extra moisturizing texture to the product, and for a brand touting its sensory experience, that’s important.

The authenticity of Versante’s mission shows in the success of the brand’s products. At only one year old, reorder rates for retail outlets that have tried the collection are at 80%. “Stick to what is true to your brand and the discerning buyers will find you,” encourages Eyre.

Responsible Sourcing