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Kelly Kovack: This episode is presented by Univar Solutions.
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Mike Indursky: Hi, I’m Mike Indursky, CEO and Founder of Hear Me Raw, and for me, It’s A Matter Of the future.
Kelly Kovack: Some people have a special magnetism to draw others in. I’m Kelly Kovack, Founder of BeautyMatter. It’s an attribute that’s far easier to identify than to explain, but you know it when you see it. The power of charisma cannot be underestimated. Effectively deployed, it’s powerful beyond comprehension. Organizations large and small recognize success begins at a personal level, and they realize that charismatic leaders are valuable assets because of their ability to connect with others in a visceral, direct way that creates memorable experiences. Charisma coupled with operational ability makes for an incredibly strong leader. Throw in creativity, and you have a visionary.
Mike Indursky, the Founder and CEO of Hear Me Raw, is such a person; when you meet him, he leaves an impression. Having left his imprint on big beauty for three decades at L’Oréal, Unilever, as the former CMO of Burt’s Bees, and as the President of Bliss, now he’s embracing his role of entrepreneur and his ability to scale ideas to clean up the beauty industry.
So Mike, thank you so much for joining us today. We’ve had so many spontaneous conversations over the years bumping into each other at various events. I’m happy to be able to share your insights with our community in a more structured environment.
Mike Indursky: Good, I like that. We have a long history.
Kelly Kovack: I know, I know. You know, you’re such a wealth of knowledge and there are so many topics that we could tackle, so I needed to kind of streamline my thought process. And I took your lead, kind of working off of the intake process that we have. So I want to use this time to dive into what’s become a hot topic, and that’s sort of the nebulous concept of clean beauty. Because I know you have lots of opinions about it. You’re so good at articulating it with a lot of substance that balances sort of the science and reality with the kind of state of the industry. And I’m just going to do sort of a quick, for those people who may not know you, which, it’s hard to believe that there is anyone in the industry who doesn’t know you.
Mike Indursky: There’s people who want to not know me.
Kelly Kovack: Well, we’re not going to talk about those people, but … You have 30 years of big beauty experience, but one of the things that I find so amazing is you have such an entrepreneur’s spirit and you’re able to somehow move the needle in sort of very big corporations in a meaningful way. I mean, you’ve held leadership positions at L’Oréal, Unilever, you were President of Bliss, you were CMO of Burt’s Bees, pre-Clorox. With your background, you really could do anything you want. But as a way of setting the stage, I want you to share a snapshot of Hear Me Raw. Because you made the decision rather than to kind of continue the big beauty path to start your own brand, and beyond starting your own brand, you’re self-funding the brand. So can you share a little bit of kind of the path that led you to make that decision?
Mike Indursky: Yeah. I’m so fortunate to have learned from truly so many great companies, so many great leaders, so many great subordinates, people who worked for me, I’ve learned so much from. So I had such a great foundation of learning, and a lot of the places I worked at gave me the freedom to do what I do best, which is to create and to really understand what’s on people’s minds and what their concerns are and to come up with things that really help enrich their lives. And in some companies, they give you much more runway, in some cases they give you a little bit less, but even in those, you had some level of freedom to do things, and I loved that. And I think after being fortunate enough to sell both Burt’s Bees, and then later sell the parent company to Bliss, I decided I needed to do my own thing. I didn’t want to leave this planet working for someone else, to be quite honest. And I was fortunate to have the resources and the energy and the real desire to do something on my own. But it wasn’t necessarily in beauty.
The reason I chose beauty was, you’ve been in it for 30 years, it’s kind of hard to leave, and I did a little bit of a survey and found people were frustrated and people were not understanding what was going on, they were not happy. What’s clean? What’s not? And what’s sustainable and what’s natural and what’s synthetic? There was so much confusion. I think in some part, the industry could do a lot better in explaining those things, and that’s kind of why I’m excited about today, is to explain those things. But Hear Me Raw was the attempt to try to right the ship, as it were, to come out with what I believe skincare needs to be today.
First, it needs to work, right? It needs to be powerful. You need to see it and feel it working right away—not in six weeks or eight weeks, right away. Second, in my opinion, it needs to be natural. My belief is, from all my learning, that as creatures from nature, our bodies only respond to things that are natural and we don’t understand how to process synthetic things. That’s why when we eat foods that have synthetic ingredients, or we put synthetic ingredients on our body, our body could react very aversely to that. So that’s why our product is natural and vegan and gluten free and cruelty free and worry free. Third, it needs to be sustainable. It’s 2022, we’ll go into this today, there’s no excuse for any product in any category not to be fully sustainable. At least recyclable. So we are refillable with a reusable glass jar and lid, and then we have these recyclable refill pods you put on top. And finally, you also have to do right for your community and for society. And we’ve worked with Global Citizen, NAACP, One Percent for the Planet, Leaping Bunny, National Product Association; we gave out 15,000 masks to frontline workers during COVID. And that has to be part of the equation.
So I was hoping this could serve as a model for how we can take skincare and beauty going forward and kind of getting away from the older ways of doing things.
Kelly Kovack: Yeah, conscientious consumers—and I use the word “consumer” knowing that you hate that word, I’m going to give you the opportunity to explain why—are on the rise, and brands with solid purpose that resonate with consumers and their values are thriving. Sustainability initiatives are often sort of the crux of purpose-driven brands. But I know you have strong opinions on the topic of purpose. And also, intellectually, I think we all know that sustainability has to be a priority, but everyone is on a different path. And it’s easier to launch a sustainable brand than it is to retrofit a legacy brand to be sustainable. But somehow, we all have to work together collectively. I’d love to hear your thoughts about why it’s urgent, and how do we move it together, indie brands and legacy brands? You know, very often you’ll hear indie brands saying, oh, the big beauty brands are copying me, and it’s like, well, yes, but they also have a larger impact. That narrative is also not very helpful.
Mike Indursky: It’s not. If you can lead the change, and the large guys start doing the same things, we need to embrace that. You can’t argue that I did this because of a problem in the world and when everyone recognizes that and they did it too, then it’s a problem for me. You can’t have it both ways. But I think when it comes to sustainability, what’s interesting is you always have this problem in that you need to rationalize everything. So let’s put ourselves out of this. Let’s say you and I are having lunch and we’re looking at the news and we see that it’s been reported that the food industry, which is not what we work in—every year, the food industry makes 120 billion pieces of packaging and that almost 80% winds up in a landfill. So almost 100 billion pieces of food packing material wind up in a landfill every year. You and I would go, oh my God, this is criminal. How could we let this happen? WE need to do something. We need to fight the government. We need to call our senators and call our congressmen. We need to do something about food packaging.
Well, here’s the thing: this happened in the cosmetic industry. The 120 billion is about the cosmetic industry. And we don’t look at it as harshly because we’re in it. But we need to look at it more harshly because we’re in it. When we realize that we’re accountable for making almost 100 billion pieces of packing material that winds up in landfills, that’s on us as marketers, it’s on us as manufacturers, it’s on us as component manufacturers. It’s also on us as retailers. And it’s on us as people who are buying stuff if they know it’s not sustainable.
So we have to take action. I mean, the climate is only getting worse; it’s not getting better. We’re poisoning the planet by putting this stuff in here. And by the way, when I say “landfill,” that’s kind of a catchall for landfill and oceans and anywhere else it could be dumped. So that’s why to me, refillable and reusable had to be number one. Recyclable is great, but the three R’s go in order: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. And we use reusable glass jars, reusable lids, and we have recyclable refill pods to make the impact as small as possible.
Kelly Kovack: I think that purpose also, aside from sustainability, and I think sustainability is sort of very easy to rally around and make sort of a tenet of your brand regardless of where you are on your path, but purpose also is inclusive of social impact. But tackling social issues as a brand is not for the faint of heart and it could go horribly wrong, especially if there’s not a deep commitment or understanding to the cause. I think of Ben and Jerry’s, or Patagonia. When social issues arise, they are able to react quickly because they don’t have to think about it; they know what they stand for and they’re willing to take risks. Your launch for Hear Me Raw was an activist march. So I know that sustainability is very important to you, but so are social causes. And I know as a marketer, you have the appetite for tackling things that are not popular or easy. But what advice do you have for brands navigating what can be really loaded social issues?
Mike Indursky: It’s a very tough time. Sensitivities are really, really high. The best-intended, deepest heartfelt efforts can be made, they can be taken the wrong way. It is a hard time and I think you just have to be very careful and very selective in what you want to say. Be very open to criticisms about what you do say. Just know what you’re getting into. But shying away from it isn’t the answer. We went on a daily post during the presidential election encouraging people to vote. We never said anything about the candidates, we never talked about parties. We just talked about the importance of voting in all these different ways, in black and white. At the end, we said for our brand, what’s most important to us are these types of things: equal rights, human rights, animal rights, environmental rights, and that’s what’s most important to us as a brand. And because of that, we said, the candidate who supports those rights to us is the now President Biden, so we endorse President Biden based on rights. We never said nasty things about Trump; that’s not what we do. But we did that for the entire twisting up to the campaign and we wound up getting shadow-banned from Instagram for overuse of political messaging. That hurt us for a while in terms of our Instagram but it was the right thing to do. We felt we needed to make a difference in the world. This was our country, yet we weren’t saying, go this party, go this party, but yet, you have to do those things.
We saw a lot during the Black Lives Matter movement. We saw a lot of brands doing the right things and come across in the wrong ways and unfortunately feeling the effects of that. I think we have to kind of step back and allow the brands to share their messages. If they’re going in the right direction, let’s support them. If they’re going the right direction but saying something wrong, let’s help them understand what that wrong thing is. Let’s not look to vilify people who are really trying to do the right thing. And that’s the same thing with my approach to large companies or retailers when it comes to products that are sustainable, natural, or whatever. If you’re trying to do the right thing, I want to help you—I really, really do. If you’re not, I want to try to educate you the best I can because I’ve been in this industry for so long. But I’m not looking to castigate anybody because that’s not serving any really good purpose.
Kelly Kovack: Yeah, and you know, I found it really interesting because we did a panel together at CosmoProf this year and it was a panel full of really smart people. And it ended up really being a debate about plastic and clean, which is not at all what I had set out to do. But it was so refreshing because there were three brilliant, brilliant industry veterans.
Mike Indursky: Four; you were one of them.
Kelly Kovack: I was just moderating!
Mike Indursky: No, no, no.
Kelly Kovack: Well, okay, four. But we were having this kind of heated, because not everyone agreed, but really necessary conversation. Because people have different opinions about what is and what isn’t clean. Is plastic totally evil and we need to be plastic free? Or does it need to be part of the conversation? And I feel like the clean beauty movement, in some way, has been inextricably tied to purpose. But it’s this totally nebulous concept without any standardization. Essentially, retailers have filled the void with their own standards of what clean means; they’re wildly inconsistent. And in some cases, you might argue that first and foremost, they’re marketing into an opportunity. But I’m going to assume everyone has the best interest in doing so.
But in your opinion, what does clean mean? And what is the difference between clean versus natural versus synthetic?
Mike Indursky: First, I think that in the case of that conversation that we had, that conference, which was brilliant, it was a great debate. And what we have to remember is that these are three individuals who are trying to make a fundamental difference to the industry. They’re all trying to make it more sustainable, more clean, and more natural; the ways we’re going about it are all different. So I view that type of debate as an educational debate. We’re just trying to inform each other. But it wasn’t an adversarial debate because we’re all going to the same place.
Kelly Kovack: We need to have more of those conversations as an industry, I think.
Mike Indursky: Yeah, yeah. This is great. Listen, if I could get rid of plastic, I would if I felt there was a better alternative. When they make refill pods, instead of having this great recyclable plastic, to do something made out of mushroom or sugar cane or something like that, I’ll do that in a second. The issue is people who don’t care about sustainability, who don’t care about ingredients that might be bad for you. That’s the adversarial debate. This debate is a friendly, let’s-try-to-inform-each-other debate, so to work with those guys, and we’re in touch to this day, thanks to you, those are good things.
So to answer your question head-on, I’ve said this before, I still find that clean is a dirty word. Again, you didn’t know this industry and there were two signs on the wall and one says this is “clean beauty,” what do you think the other one is? “Dirty beauty”? What does it mean? So clean beauty was a way to address the problematic ingredients in the industry without coming out with products that don’t perform as well. That was the whole point of clean. How can I get rid of things that are well known to be potentially problematic, like parabens? Which, by the way, 71% of products still use parabens. I just found that out; I was shocked.
Kelly Kovack: Are you serious?
Mike Indursky: Yeah. 71%. I believe it was printed by NPD.
So clean was a way to get rid of those problematic ingredients without getting rid of performance because back in the day, the conversation wasn’t clean versus regular, it was natural versus synthetic, and the natural ones, a lot of them weren’t as good, they didn’t perform as well. So this allowed for—you could be completely synthetic and be clean. The problem is what the average person understands what clean is and what they’re right about and wrong about. Clean doesn’t mean it’s natural; clean doesn’t mean it’s sustainable. We did a survey and 80% of people that we surveyed assumed that if a brand is labeled clean, that the packaging has to be sustainable. And you know and I know, there’s clean brands out there where the packaging isn’t even recyclable—not even recyclable.
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Kelly Kovack: I know a lot of brands are actually developing into the clean standards of retailers so that when they launch in those retailers, they can be sold under that categorization because clean brands perform better. I mean, it’s almost a situation where good intentions have sort of gone awry.
Mike Indursky: Yeah. You have to do what’s right for the people you’re trying to serve, and of course the planet you’re trying to serve. But the industry has changed a lot. It’s funny; I view what brands like Hear Me Raw is doing is kind of like what Tesla did to the auto industry, albeit infinitely smaller. Tesla got rid of the gas and oil dominance that the big car industry had. And we’re trying to do the same thing. It’s like, you don’t need to have synthetic ingredients. You don’t need to have packaging that is sustainable. However, where I think the similarity is dead on, is back in the day, like the first hybrid car, and the first one was a Prius, and the Prius was a crappy car. It was crappy to look at, it was crappy to feel the interior, it was crappy to drive. You were like, jerked back and forth when you were going from electric to gas. Tesla is the best car—I would argue the best-performing car there is, if you’ve ever driven one. I was fortunate enough to drive it a couple of times. It’s the best car out there that happens to be electric. And I think brands like Hear Me Raw and some others, like Tata Harper, these are the best brands out there, the best-performing brands. They happen to be natural; they happen to be sustainable. In our case, they happen to be refillable and they happen to do good in society. But first and foremost, they’re the best brands out there. That’s where I think the comparison is fair. And that gap between natural performance and synthetic performance, that’s gone. That’s completely gone if it’s formulated right.
Kelly Kovack: Yeah, I mean, it is amazing how far formulation has come in a very short period of time. But, you know, what are your thoughts on this emerging anti-clean movement? So it first started, I don’t know, maybe like six, eight months ago, maybe a little bit longer, with sort of the consumer publications kind of calling BS on these clean standards. And then the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post kind of jumped on board, going a little bit deeper. And to be fair, there are no guidelines or anything really having any sort of framework to guide what clean is. But now we’re seeing it even go further. You know, just recently in the Wall Street Journal, there was a conversation about parabens. And then, now there are brands talking about haircare brands with sulfates in them. And so parabens and sulfates were the foundation of these “free of” lists, and now we have people sort of having a conversation about, are they really as bad as they’re portrayed? Is that helpful? Is it going to further confuse things? I find it kind of fascinating.
Mike Indursky: So right now, you’re really getting my dander up, okay? I was really calm until this conversation. I did not expect this conversation to come up; I did not. So I’ll say this: first of all, I think, despite the comments I said about if you call a section clean beauty, what’s the other section, I think the work that’s being done by retailers like Follain and Credo and Sephora in the establishment of clean standards is brilliant. It’s a step in the right direction. I think they’re all trying to do the right thing. The movement against all this is money talks and bullshit walks. And it’s all about the all-mighty dollar and fuck everything else. That’s what I honestly believe. That’s what I honestly, honestly believe.
Think of it this way: a hundred years ago, everything was natural. Everything was natural: your foods were natural, skincare was natural, cosmetics were natural. And then we have food scientists, cosmetic scientists, making these synthetic ingredients to help make it cheaper and easier, and easier to work with, with best intentions. And then we find out these synthetic ingredients, when they are processed through the body, might have problems. They can cause endocrine disruptions; they can be co-carcinogens; they can be carcinogenic at its worst. At its best, it could be causing rashes, irritation, stuff like that.
Shouldn’t this stuff be called out? If we were any other industry, we’d be saying, “Oh my God, put a label on it!” Like cigarettes: may cause cancer. May do this. May do this. So why don’t we on put that on products that contain parabens? “Contains parabens. May be a co-carcinogen. May be an endocrine disruptor.” Why? Because everyone is using them. So it takes the little guys to raise their hand and go, “Look at me! I don’t use parabens! And I don’t test on animals! And I don’t use animal byproducts! And my packaging is recyclable! And I do give back to society!” It’s completely backwards; it’s perverse. We shouldn’t be raising our hand because we’re not doing bad things. The people who are doing bad things should be labeled. And this kind of 180 that people are doing on, oh, forget natural, synthetics are great. Look, arsenic can kill you! Yeah, arsenic can kill you; so can a car. It’s not about that. We’re talking about people’s health and we’re talking about the environment. And to poo-poo and dismiss ingredients which could hurt you—would you feed parabens to your baby? Ask yourself that question. I did a live selling event yesterday where I was eating half the ingredients in one of my moisturizers.
Kelly Kovack: You’re doing a Craig Dubitsky.
Mike Indursky: Yeah, I didn’t just eat his toothpaste. I was eating Maqui Berry and Prickly Pear and Mexican Poppy Stem Cells and Cucumber and Watermelon and Coconut Water, all which are in the hydrator, one of my moisturizers, because your body is going to process it. So the question I have, if you’re so big on parabens, give your baby a teaspoon of parabens and see how you like it; see how your baby likes it. Take it yourself first. You know what the answer is: they wouldn’t do it. But they’re doing it because it’s more money that we can make because it makes it easier and we don’t have to do all of this reformulation, which is such a pain.
Kelly Kovack: I would argue that there are people like you who are truly sort of digging in and trying to make the industry better. There are others, because listen, it’s big business, that have just jumped on the bandwagon. So I think the necessary debate is good. I think there has been a lack of substance when it comes to science to some of the claims that are made around clean beauty. There’s been a lot of fearmongering. It’s a little ironic, but there’s also sort of a little bit of a lack of transparency in some cases, and sort of intentional kind of … if you think about vegan and cruelty free, right, they’re often used interchangeably, and they’re not; they’re very, very, very different. But vegan beauty is expected to be worth $25 billion by 2025. And no one wants to harm animals. So how do we start extricating these claims? Especially when it comes to cruelty free and vegan, it’s very easy to fill out a form with little substantiation, send in a check for $500, and get an emblem to put on your package. Which, you know, okay, maybe that’s helpful, I would argue it adds to confusion. But how do we start unwinding all of these things that have kind of come together to mean clean beauty?
Mike Indursky: Yeah. It all comes down to education. And we need to just constantly educate people. Because it doesn’t make sense if you talk to the average person on the street, if a product says it’s cruelty free, does it mean it uses no animal byproducts? And the average person would go, yeah, it’s cruelty free, of course there’s no animals in it. And you say, no, you can have lanolin, which is made from sheep’s wool; you can have squalene from animals; you can have certain fish; you can have beetles; you could have hooves from a variety of animals. No, you could argue that those animals are already dead but still, do you want that in your beauty product? Were animals put on this earth to make us look more beautiful? That’s the question I ask. There’s always a plant-based alternative. You don’t need lanolin; you can use other things.
But here’s the thing where I go a little bit off. In most cases, I believe fervently in natural versus synthetic. I believe fervently in plant based versus animal based when it comes to beauty products. I’m not going to excoriate someone for not agreeing with me. If you want a product and you fill that product with lanolin, if you know it comes from sheep and you’re okay with that; that’s fantastic. If you know your product is all synthetic and you feel good about it, that’s fantastic, truly. It’s when they think it’s something and it’s not, that’s the problem, so we need to educate them.
Once you’re educated, make the best choice. I’m not going to shame you, and you shouldn’t be shamed for your buying choices. You should know what choices you’re making because you might not know. So our goal is to really let people know what they’re buying and what the implications are. If you still want to do it, then so be it.
Kelly Kovack: Getting to know you, one of the things that I find so inspirational is your commitment. When you believe in something, you are all in. You don’t dip your toe in the water. You are in it if you believe in it. But you also think big and you leverage collaboration over competition to move ideas and purposes forward. Can you share some of the brand and business initiatives you’re currently working on?
Mike Indursky: Sure. We just did a documentary with a vegan makeup artist named Campbell Ritchie, who is wonderful, completely committed. She has a story of someone who had cancer and faced serious, serious real threats to her life. She turned her life around with a vegan diet and is not very, very vociferously anti-animals in eating or, of course, in beauty. I’m not a vegan; I try to be close. She’s a vegan. But I believe in beauty care you don’t need animals in it. So we just worked with this organization, we did a documentary, and that should be launching this month, if not early April, so that’s one. We’re also working with No Kill Magazine on a series called “Things That Shouldn’t Be in Beauty Products,” and it’s going to be a range of things that shouldn’t be in beauty products and what the alternatives are, and done in a way to educate. Again, it’s our belief. We’re also doing a collaboration with Fred Siegel on a whole different level. Because at the end of the day, it’s beauty, it’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s cool. And we just hooked up with them, who I’ve loved for years and years, as they celebrate their 61st anniversary, and we’ll be doing a collaboration with them. And of course, during Earth Month, in April, we’re going to be partnering with a lot of great like-minded brands to really get the message out about why sustainable, natural beauty, in our opinion, is the best choice.
Kelly Kovack: So I want to do a little bit of a pivot and talk about the dramatic shift we’re seeing in terms of sales channels. Because both of us have been around to have what I like to call a historic perspective on things. But, you know, the unwritten rules of distribution or sales decisions have been literally thrown out the window. But we’ve also seen, at the same time, D2C brands coming to the realization that they have not reinvented the wheel and that you need brick-and-mortar partners to achieve scale. And we’re also seeing the emergence of totally new sales channels. So forget about a paradigm shift. We are in a moment of, I think, complete reinvention. And I think maybe it’s more dramatic in the US, maybe because it’s my home market, but also because all of a sudden, I’m getting press releases from brands saying, “We launched in Walmart!” When has a brand that could be perceived as a premium position sent a press release about being excited about launching in Walmart? I think what Walmart is doing in beauty is amazing and far more dynamic than the press releases that would have been “We launched in a Barneys exclusive.” So it’s really, really, really fascinating. And this emergence of new sales channels is fascinating. And I think for brands, it provides a freedom, so you aren’t constrained by perception of where you should or should not distribute. And now, all of a sudden, your consumer becomes the channel and you need to be present where they are, which is incredibly liberating, but there’s no playbook, right?
So I’m curious how you’re navigating this new beauty landscape and what your thoughts are about these shifts. They happen very quickly and yes, I guess [have been] expedited by COVID in many respects.
Mike Indursky: It’s so fascinating. I mean, there’s so much going on right now. You typically had a complete retailer dependency, right? If you didn’t have retail, you didn’t have distribution, you couldn’t sell, then you were able to sell D2C. Then COVID happened and a lot of people who were in retail and reliant on retail got hurt. There’s more and more brands coming out, they’re all fighting for the same space. It’s getting really hard out there as a D2C brand to advertise; Facebook and Instagram is getting harder and harder. What I find really interesting is the whole new livestream selling opportunities and to see things like Shop Lit Live, ShopShops, TalkShopLive, Flip, Amazon Live, this is a whole new area of opportunity and growth, and for manufacturers, for brands, it’s a way to take back control of their message, take back control of their own narrative. Because remember, they used to say in the old days “the marketer ran the message,” but now it’s social media. The people—people who are buying your products, they control your message, and that’s largely true. With livestream selling, the brands now take back a lot of that control to tell their story the same way we kind of did way back, and it’s a much more intimate one-on-one approach. And personally, I’m loving it.
I remember a couple of weeks ago, I went head-to-head with somebody, another brand. They didn’t sell a piece and I did great because the message resonated. And it’s just so great to do. I did one last night, which I loved, I told you I was eating my ingredients. And you watch the chats and you’re responding to the chats, and it’s authentic.
Kelly Kovack: You were born for livestreaming.
Mike Indursky: I’m a ham. But to me, it’s just like when you love what you’re doing and you believe what it is, whether you’re talking to one person or 1,101 people, you’re talking with the same fervency because you believe in it so much. So if I can get one person to believe in it, try us, give us a shot, it’s worth it to me because I know it’s going to pay off, because our repeat rate, thank God, is through the roof. Our refill rate, thank God, is through the roof. In that sense, it’s going really well. My goal is just to try to talk to as many people as possible without annoying them too much.
Kelly Kovack: So I—I mean, obviously, we can sit here and talk all day long, and we have on many occasions, but I want to wrap up today with you showing your personal wellness practice of “halving.” So when we met for the first time, even though we had known each other for a very long time, you shared it with me and I was like, oh my God, this concept is so simple, so easy to integrate, and so profound in its impact. And I know it’s something that you live your life by and it’s more than that, and you kind of shelved it for a while, not in practice, but sort of from a concept perspective, but based on social media, it’s back. So, share.
Mike Indursky: I’m so glad you asked me to talk about that; I didn’t expect to talk about this today, so thank you.
Kelly Kovack: I was prepared to have a whole episode on it but when I got your intake form, I was like, okay, we’ll talk about clean beauty.
Mike Indursky: We can bust into it some other time; I would love to do that. I had this realization a long time ago that if we make these very mindful, halving decisions about what we consume, when we consume it—and consume can mean buy something, travel something, use something, eat something. If you make these mindful halving decisions, you can improve your health, your wealth, and the environment about the same time. And I’ve lived by this for about 15, 16 years. I was going to write a book about it back in 2016-2017, Random House wanted to do it. I just decided I don’t have the bandwidth to do this, I’m going to take some time, focus on Hear Me Raw. But I’ve still been living it, a lot of halving has gone into, of course, Hear Me Raw. But to give you two kind of simple examples, if I’m at, say, Soho House in West Village and I want to walk home. And if I look at my Google Maps, I know it’s going to take me about 12 minutes by car, 15 minutes by subway, and probably about 21 minutes by walking. What Google Maps doesn’t tell me is, what’s the cost. So I know that the subway is $2.75 and I know that Uber is probably going to cost me about $20 with tip and all. It also doesn’t tell me my carbon footprint. It also doesn’t tell me how many calories I’ll burn. Now, if I do that calculation, for 10 minutes more to walk, I can burn about 160 calories, I can get a phone call in and be productive, save myself anywhere from $2.75 to $20. Now, multiply that by three days a week. Now, multiply that by 52 weeks a year. If half the time I chose to take a subway, or half the time I chose to walk, I’d save about $6,000; I would burn like 32,000 calories; and I would have such a fundamentally better impact on the carbon footprint. So that’s a very tangible thing, but on a daily basis, you don’t think about that. It’s just, let’s go somewhere else, let’s go to a restaurant. But when you do the math, obviously you start thinking differently. And then when you multiply it by the number of times you do it in a year, and if everyone did this, imagine the environmental impact you’d have. Another example is you go to a restaurant, and typically you’d get the big meal, and maybe instead of having a salmon, I’ll have half a salmon and I’ll share it with you. And by doing that, rather than both of us having a salmon, half as many salmon need to be caught, which means half as many boats need to catch the salmon, and when they catch the salmon, they catch other fish and half as many of those will be caught because it’s half as many boats, you need half as much gas, half as much oil, and then they go to distribution, they put it in refrigeration. You need half as much refrigeration which means half as much energy, and when you fly it or drive it over from Point A to Point B from the distributors to the retailers, that’s half as many trucks, half as many planes, half as much gas, half as much oil, half as much traffic. When you look at the whole chain of savings, health savings, financial savings, and environmental savings, it’s huge. And when you do this and you multiply it by the number of times a year, I’ve calculated, as I said, I can save $6,000 on Uber, $6,000 on vodka, right, and that doesn’t include all the health benefits and other benefits you get by making these halving decisions. And when you make these halving decisions, it’s not like you have a lower quality of life, you have a better quality of life. Everything is better.
Can I give you one last example?
Kelly Kovack: Of course.
Mike Indursky: I was thinking about this at a live event and everyone’s chatting, it’s like firing up, and there wasn’t a point to the chat. This woman writes, “I love everything you said, up until clothes. I love to shop for clothes. I don’t want to be shamed.” I said, “I’m not shaming you. It’s about making you …” (like we talked about skincare) “… making you aware.” If you know a blouse takes 35 gallons of water, has this much pollution, this much carbon footprint, if you still want to buy it, buy it; just know the environmental impact you’re making. Having said that, if for every blouse you buy, you donate one or sell one, then the 35 gallons of water and pollution and carbon footprint it took to make that blouse won’t be replicated because that person is taking your new one, is neutral now. I bought one, I gave one to someone else who otherwise would have bought one, right? Or, let’s go one step further: every quarter, go through your closet, get all the stuff that you know you’re not going to wear anymore, donate it or sell it. Now look at this, I got rid of six blouses, 10 pairs of pants, and three pairs of shoes. I’ve donated or sold them. Now, I’ve earned enough credit to buy myself six blouses, 10 pairs of pants, and all these shoes because I’ve saved it up by giving this stuff to other people. And that’s the whole purpose; it’s just making mindful decisions. It’s worked for me. And it’s getting to the point now where I go to a restaurant, I bring a takeout container because I’d rather bring my own takeout container than use their takeout containers that put more waste in the waste stream. I wash out Ziploc bags and aluminum foil and try not to use them. So it’s always been these mindful decisions. How to cut your emails in half, how to cut your meetings in half, it’s all such a great way to go. And now because we have such great income disparity, we have health issues, we have climate issues, if there’s ever a time to do it, it’s now. So I decided to relaunch it, I started posting January 1st. I do about one to two posts a week and just try to share what I’ve learned and hopefully help people live a more sustainable life.
Kelly Kovack: Well, I think that there’s a reason for everything and I don’t think that you would have the traction or the impact 16 years ago with the concept that you have now. It’s the perfect time. More people are making these more conscious decisions. I think the simplicity of it—like there’s no reason not to do it, it’s so simple. So I’m so excited you took it off the shelf. I was really, really happy to see that. And I’m happy to share it with our community.
Mike Indursky: That would be great.
Kelly Kovack: Yeah. So Mike, thank you so much for all of your insight, as always. I always know that if I call you to do something, it’s like, when do you need me? Of course! There’s sort of a generosity and excitement about everything that you do that I’m so, so thankful for, so thank you.
Mike Indursky: That means a lot to me. You’re one of the great ones, Kelly, and I love how our friendship has evolved, I love what you’re doing for the industry. You have such wisdom and you share the wisdom in such a nice, lovely, informative way, and I’m just fortunate to be able to be your friend and to be able to have this opportunity to share my thoughts with your audience.
Kelly Kovack: Thank you, Mike. We will reconvene in a more social setting, either organized or bumping into each other.
Mike Indursky: Or both, which is usually the case.
Kelly Kovack: Or both, exactly.
Mike Indursky: Thank you so much.
Kelly Kovack: Alright, thank you.
For Mike, It’s A Matter Of the future. He described Hear Me Raw as a skincare brand that’s powerful, natural, sustainable, and beautiful. The brand and the products are the embodiment of his commitment to people and planet, and the vehicle for getting rid of compromises in the beauty industry. In a world of tokenism and performative one-offs, the brands that truly put their money where their mouths are, have personal empowerment built into the DNA and are often led by charismatic founders. Mike Indursky is putting his money where his mouth is, self-funding Hear Me Raw and looking to improve the world one product, one person at a time. In the process, he’s reshaping the beauty industry, challenging virtually every convention, building a paradigm of what’s truly best for people’s health, happiness, wealth, and the world around him. It will take an army of responsible global citizens focused on the greater good. So in the end, It’s A Matter Of the future, and that’s what matters. I’m Kelly Kovack, see you next time.
Mike Indursky: Hi, I’m Mike, and for me, It’s A Matter Of the future.
It’s A Matter Of is a production of BeautyMatter LLC. You can find more content and insights on www.BeautyMatter.com
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