The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

EO Products

EO Products

Sustainability

May 23, 2010

Based in Marin County, California, EO Products is a family owned and operated, Certified Organic Manufacturer of personal care products. Free from animal testing, EO Products develops their own innovative essential oil blends, sources natural ingredients and finds the most environmentally friendly packaging they can to fill and ship their orders. We talked to Susan Griffin-Black, co-founder of EO Products, about how being green is so much more than just a marketing strategy.

How did you come to form EO Products?

For me, it started in 1987, when I read Growing a Business and identified with the idea that businesses are capable of making the world a better place by being socially responsible. That was also an idea embraced by Esprit when I was there in 1990 and had the opportunity to listen to David Brower, David Forman, Sally Fox and all sorts of environmental activists. So, EO is infused with both social and environmental ethos. We call it “right livelihood,” because it is simply the best way to operate for the greater good.  
 
How have you been able to merge commerce with sustainable business practices?

This has been our founding philosophy pretty much from the beginning, however it was always a journey. We began green because that’s who we are and how we live – we eat organic, our kids go to a Waldorf school, we’re hell bent on creating products that are beautiful, safe, and effective for the whole family. Over the past 15 years, staying true to our values may have slowed the growth of market share or more financial success but even in the most difficult times, we have valued relationships and doing the right thing over immediate gain. We’ve made a clear choice and stayed the course. 
 
How does the theory of “truth in labeling” factor into your products and affect your relationship with consumers?

We believe in transparency. Life is about relationships, and we focus on mutual kindness, respect and the idea of collaboration as a culture inside the company and with all of our vendors and customers. Our customers are some of the most die-hard and loyal people around. They ask all of the hard questions and demand quality in their personal care offerings. We are thrilled that they recognize the work we do and insist on transparency and quality. It lets us know that we are on the right path.  
 
How is your business unique from others that manufacture “organic” personal care products?

Becoming a Certified Organic Manufacturer has required a lot of due diligence and a commitment to taking the high road long before there was a real organic standard for personal care. We have adhered to the food standard – which took the natural foods industry 30 years to put into place – and after 10 years, it will eventually be consistent with personal care. For us, it is all about safe and healthy organic agriculture. 
 
What can retailers learn from your success?

Hard work and right livelihood are the only true way of presenting an offering to the consumer. Consumers are an intelligent and discerning group, and they want authenticity. Start where you are. Know who you are and identify your vision and keep it in front of you so you know where you are going. Be flexible and do your best to keep a fresh perspective. 



In upcoming issues, we will continue to feature interviews with companies that are taking innovative steps toward the creation of sustainable products and services. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing please contact Allison Bloom at allison@foodnutritionscience.com.