While a gallery of nice shots of well designed products is worthwile on it’s own for sure, it’s the content inside said slick packaging that really matters. For now-sold-out issue #03, we sat down with Armin and Christian, the founders of a men’s grooming shop called Woodberg and specialists for natural grooming supplies for men. All products shown here come from their shop’s selection, so these two know a thing or two about the ingredients used as well as the whys and hows.
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Tell me about yourselves – who are you, what is Woodberg all about?
We‘ve been friends for years and seperately developed an interest for special grooming products, shopping in various online stores ourselves. It took quite some time until we found out about this shared interest – which might have to do with the fact that men didn‘t use to talk about their grooming rituals too much. That has changed quite a bit, obviously.
For us, eating healthy, being active, buying organic produce and aiming for a “back to nature” lifestyle doesn’t go with cosmetics from mass production, packed with chemically made synthetic ingredients. The products and brands we sell are free of animal testing and contain natural, mostly organic substances only. They are safe for the customer and the environment, they‘re beautifully designed and they live up to what they promise.
Why do you focus on natural cosmetics?
From where we stand, natural ingredients make all the difference. The best substances are to be found in nature, so why we‘re whipping up chemical and sometimes even toxic stuff in a lab is beyond us. We’re faced with enough harmful stuff everyday as is. Natural ingredients are more sustainable and most of them are suitable for sensitive skin types as well – that’s something you can‘t say about most synthetic ingredients.
cruelty free / organic
That‘s why we think that it‘s the old school approach and the classic ingredients that make natural cosmetics so interesting. The Maori tribe of New Zealand used Ponga fern to heal their wounds after battle – so using a facial creme with Ponga as an aftershave, it doesn‘t get any cooler than that!
So what is it that distinguishes natural cosmetics from regular ones?
See, this question is hard to answer because strictly speaking, there‘s no real definition of the term “natural cosmetics”. As far as we know, there are more than ten different certificates for natural cosmetics, which pretty much proves our point… We try not to use the term at all, as we think it‘s being used wrongly by a lot of companies.
When we research brands and products, we make sure that no aggressive and harmful ingredients are used. So we think the term “naturally occuring cosmetics” fits better, even if it might look like we‘re splitting hairs. But these products contain nearly exclusively naturally sourced ingredients, some of them are made of a 100% natural ingredients. The companies making them understand their own work as artisanry and offer natural and sustainable products. They‘re not trying to sell them as something they‘re not.
cruelty free / organic
From your perspective, how important is the packaging of the products you sell? How important is the image building of the brand?
A treat for the skin, a treat for the eyes. When we first started out, we asked ourselves if we were superficial because we always ended up chosing only the most beautiful products for our shop. But we ended up looking at a wellmade packaging as an absolute necessity. First of all, and there‘s no way around it, marketing is key. Who shares a facial cream on Instagram when it looks like all-purpose glue? Style helps building a personal relationship with a product. But that‘s not all.
“Conscious lifestyle choices from outside the world of cosmetics
are spreading more and more and they change the way we think”
Seeing that a company didn‘t put a lot of effort in the packaging makes you wonder how much love and care has been mustered up for making the actual product? If you think about it, it can be a bad sign for the customer when somebody approaches the packaging in a sloppy way. We like to see the pride, the appreciation and the care of the makers in the details of their work – the scent, the recipe and yes, the design.
You‘re not a vegan store by definition, but offer an increasingly big selection of vegan products. What makes these products vegan? And what to look out for when shopping for vegan grooming products?
Nature offers so many highly capable plantbased oils and substances… When doing our research, we understood what natural ingredients are capable of. When it comes to the benefits of plant based ingredients, we could ramble on for hours, but this would go beyond the scope of this interview now, wouldn‘t it?
cruelty free / organic
So instead, here are a couple tips and some information about our products and selection process we hope is useful:
- When buying vegan cosmetics, keep an eye out for ingredients like beeswax, honey, lanoline, lard and grease
- Creams and balms in particular often contain beeswax, honey is used in masks and face wash a lot and then lanoline and lard in shaving cremes and hair grease. Since the companies whose products we distribute are not your typical big corporations but family style business operations, they are keen to tell us all about their ingredients – something we welcome and try to encourage
- On top of that, we made it a rule to inquire if the products offered are free of animal testing. This includes all the ingredients from the component supplier, too. Nothing that goes into the final product can be tested on animals. Animal testing is a no go for us
- Another important information is that ingredients shouldn‘t be imported from China as animal welfare hasn‘t the significance it should have there yet, in both politics and society
cruelty free / organic
Would you say that the demand for vegan grooming products in your store is growing?
Definitely! We just recently ‘joined the club’ ourselves, but even before that we made it a point to include a category for vegan products on our website to make them easier to search and find. Conscious lifestyle choices from outside the world of cosmetics are spreading more and more and they change the way we think about cosmetic products – the same way they influence what we’re looking for in our food choices both quality-wise as well as with regards to ethics. We think it‘s only logical that vegan cosmetics are sought after more than ever, just the way vegan choices find their way onto our plates more and more. This is a great development we’re very happy about personally and which brings a demand we love to cater to professionally.