“Founder, farmer’s wife, mama bear”
This is how Bethany McDaniel describes herself on the website of her natural beauty brand, Primally Pure. Each label she ascribes to herself rings true in her business model: she is the founder of Primally Pure, born out of a frustration with her sensitive, acne-prone skin; her formulation uses only whole, certified-organic ingredients; and she recently launched a baby-product line, which is packaged in all-glass containers.
Amidst stiff competition (the natural beauty industry is currently worth 14.8 billion globally), McDaniel has established Primally Pure as an extremely trustworthy brand, not only promising clean, effective products, but following through—from ingredient sourcing all the way down to packaging. BeautyMatter had the chance to chat with McDaniel and get the scoop behind the brand. Read below for our Q&A:
Tell us about the beginning stages of Primally Pure. What was your inspiration and how did you get started?
My obsession with natural skincare was born after years of dealing with sensitive, acne-prone skin. I tried every mainstream product you could imagine, many of which offered short-lived results but didn’t truly make a difference in the health of my skin. It wasn’t until after I discovered the power of eating real food that I purged my bathroom cabinet of toxic skincare products and began formulating my own replacements made with real, recognizable ingredients. Much to my surprise, the products I made actually worked better than the dozens I had tried in the past. My acne cleared up and my skin felt (and looked) better than it ever had. But most importantly, I enjoyed using them. I started selling my creations on my family farm’s website and a few months later I started a website of my own. Today, I have a team of 15 and we work out of a beautiful office/warehouse space in sunny southern California.
How did your experience owning and working on a farm inform your views on skincare? How has it guided your business model?
I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity I had to get involved in my family’s organic farm. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of wellness and sparked a passion within me for not only incorporating nourishing + pure ingredients on my plate, but in my skincare products. I learned so much about business, health, marketing, etc. from my family and from my own successes and failures within the family business. It also taught me that you don’t need tons of capital or experience to start a business—just a solid product and a relentless spirit.
Your products are nontoxic and organic. What is your formulation philosophy and how is it different from competitors in this crowded beauty segment?
Simply put, our formulation philosophy is: fewer is better. We use fewer, better ingredients and formulate our products in a way that lets these simple ingredients truly shine. With short ingredients lists (almost all of our products contain 10 or less ingredients), our products are made with certified organic and fair trade ingredients that are sourced with the utmost attention and care, from family-owned farms whenever possible. There are SO many “organic” beauty brands out there, but so few that are truly pure, natural, and nontoxic. In a saturated “natural” skincare market, our products stand out because of the simplicity, purity, and effectiveness of our ingredients.
As a brand whose mission is to provide natural skincare, how do you ensure the integrity of your supply chain when it comes to sourcing ingredients?
Our search for ingredients that meet our standards is exhaustive. Whenever possible we source organic materials and collect certificates of analysis for each ingredient we receive, adding another layer of assurance that we are purchasing the purest, natural ingredients possible. We collect representative samples to confirm quality and then batch sample to test the attributes of the material. We look for items that have been minimally processed, which have origin traceability and that are fair trade certified where applicable. In the past, we have turned away full shipments of ingredients that didn’t meet our stringent standards.
How did you arrive at your product assortment?
When I first learned about the dangerous ingredients found in conventional deodorant (aluminum, parabens, and phthalates, just to name a few), I knew I couldn’t continue to use it. The first place I turned was grocery store brands, but after trying countless of them with little-to-no success, I decided to try my luck at formulating a natural deodorant stick. It took me over a year of research, experimentation, and testing on friends and family members before I finally came up with a stick that actually worked! And boom, that’s how Primally Pure began. To start, I was only selling four products: deodorant, lip balm, body butter, and outdoor lotion (which we’re no longer selling). Three and a half years later, we’ve expanded our product line to offer over 30 products, including a full range of skincare products, haircare, men’s products, a baby line and our best-selling deodorant.
Natural deodorant tends to have a stigma of being ineffective, but yours is a bestseller. Can you tell us about how the product works?
There are definitely negative stereotypes surrounding natural deodorants, but we’ve set out to disprove them. Countless customers have shared similar stories with us that after trying dozens of natural deodorants, they were tempted to turn back to their drugstore brand—until they discovered ours. We’ve spent years researching and formulating with safe, effective ingredients to create a gentle + nontoxic deodorant that actually works. We always have, and always will, believe that fewer is better when it comes to ingredients, and our best-selling natural deodorants are no exception.
Primally Pure deodorant is made with a short list of ingredients including organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic arrowroot powder, baking soda, organic tallow from grass-fed cows, and organic essential oils. Ingredients like these allow the skin to breathe and function as it should. Nourishing vitamins and essential fatty acids with anti-inflammatory + anti-microbial properties help to improve the health of skin, leaving pits smooth, protected, and pampered. Our charcoal deodorant (our most popular one!) also contains activated coconut charcoal, which absorbs 1000x its weight giving it a detoxifying boost while also deodorizing and disinfecting.
You recently launched a baby line, a big feat considering the rise in demand for organic baby products. How do you ensure your products are safe, effective, and sensitive enough for a newborn?
The majority of baby products on the markets aren’t even safe for adults to use and definitely shouldn’t be used on babies, who have much more delicate + absorbent skin than adults. Each of our baby products (powder, oil, soap, balm) was designed to pamper babies in every way possible. We spared no expense and cut zero corners (always using squeaky clean + organic ingredients, glass containers, and costly but exceedingly effective ingredients) in creating this line.
Our baby products stand out due to the purity and potency of the ingredients we include. For example, it’s extremely common for brands to advertise calendula as an ingredient in baby products—even if they’re only using a teeny tiny bit of this powerhouse herb. We heavily infuse our extra virgin olive oil in heaps of calendula flower to ensure that enough of it is actually getting into the product. Emu oil is an ingredient that’s extremely pricey and almost never seen in baby products. But it’s also exceedingly effective in treating irritated skin, conditions like eczema and psoriasis, stretch marks, and wrinkles (allowing our baby balm to even double as a face cream for adults with sensitive skin). We also infuse our baby products with organic herbs for a gentler alternative to active essential oils for baby’s delicate skin.
Does your mission of purity extend to your packaging as well?
Absolutely, the same care + quality goes into our packaging as well. Every bottle, every label, and every customer’s order is packaged to reflect the high standards of our products. Most of our products are packaged in recyclable glass jars and bottles, BPA-free plastic containers, and biodegradable paper tubes. We always encourage customers to recycle their PP packaging or reuse + repurpose them in creative ways.
How would you define the Primally Pure consumer?
She is a natural-minded and simplicity-focused woman who seeks to improve her quality of life by choosing real, natural and nontoxic alternatives to conventional beauty products. She is mindful, socially conscious, a health nut, a trendsetter, and family oriented. She is committed to living a healthy + natural lifestyle and inspires others to follow in her footsteps. She is a PP Babe.
How do you hope to change the current landscape of the beauty industry?
Seeing so many natural beauty brands pop up over the last several years just affirms what I’ve believed for so long—clean beauty is the future and it’s here to stay. It’s neat to see the demand increase and so many brands jumping in to fill that void! I think what sets Primally Pure apart from the rest is the simple ingredients we use. We’ll never be guilty of “greenwashing” our products, and we believe in giving natural, raw ingredients the space they need to shine and truly work their magic.
What was your distribution strategy for the brand when you launched and how has it evolved?
In the beginning, I was hand-cutting our labels, collecting magazines and newspapers from local hair salons and shredding them myself to use as packaging material, hand-writing addresses on packages, etc. Everyone thought I was crazy, including my family. But I stuck with it and grinded it out because I believed so firmly in my products and felt an intense commitment to my customers from the very beginning. My current grind is more of a mental one as I constantly seek to improve and grow as a company through digital strategy, expanding our brand offerings, connecting with people in new ways, managing roles and personalities within the company, and so much more. Although we are growing exponentially, we still hand-make each product, packaging and labeling each item individually, which ensures that only the finest skincare products leave our facility.
What do you see for the future of your brand in the coming years? And for the future of clean beauty in general?
We’re so grateful for the growth we’ve experienced over the past couple of years and are excited for the plans we have for Primally Pure! We’re consistently dreaming up new product ideas, creative project launches, and fresh ways to care for our customers. We’re going to continue to create innovative, nontoxic treatment products for specific skin types, refine our current range to make them even more effective + enjoyable to use, and eventually we hope to open our own Primally Pure Concept Spa where we will offer customized, natural skin services using only the purest ingredients found on our planet. We’re just about to move into a brand-new, much larger workshop where we’ll be able to handcraft even more PP goodness. So stay tuned!
For more on this brand, head to PrimallyPure.
Photo credit: primallypure.com