Tricia Marlowe: Founder, French Farmacie

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Victoria Malloy

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I'm a writer, photographer and environmental advocate with an earth-first perspective on life. This is a place to be inspired to live more consciously, and put the planet at the heart of all that you do.

Hi, I'm VICTORIA

In this Earth-First Conversations series, I sit down with brand founders who are blazing trails, empowering lasting change, and building impactful brands with an earth-first vision. Today, I am joined by Tricia Marlowe, the Founder of consciously crafted skincare brand French Farmacie. She and I talk ingredient upcycling, the new breed of conscious consumer, and building a brand with a softer impact on the environment.

Q

Tell me about what led you to create French Farmacie. What were you observing in the beauty industry that made you want to do things differently/better?

A

After years of struggling with infertility and an up-and-down relationship with my skin, I set out to rebuild my approach to wellness. Along my journey, a trip to Indonesia left a lasting impression, where front-line communities are grappling with the ocean pollution crisis – a result of the global dependence on single-use plastic. The beauty industry is a major contributor to this crisis as an estimated 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry. This resonated with my holistic mission and became the catalyst for a deeper appreciation that skin health and the health of the world around us are profoundly interconnected. Inspired by a healthier vision for people and the planet and equipped with experience in biotech, French Farmacie was born.

Our namesake is inspired by the pharmacies in France and their commitment to quality products, attention to detail, and a highly personal, community-driven approach. I admire the French, who tend to favour natural, plant-based formulas and embody a less-is-more philosophy, so I love that our hero products Sérum Radiant and Élixir Exfoliant are the foundation for a pared-down routine.


“Creating products that are good for you, even better for your skin, and safe for the environment is our North Star.”

– Tricia Marlowe, Founder, French Farmacie


Q

Tell me about the process of selecting your ingredients and what you were striving to achieve with your formulations.

A

We worked with suppliers whose mission is to source the highest quality, vegan and cruelty-free ingredients available and our farming partners ensure safe and fair working conditions along their supply chains. Our science-driven formulations were created in partnership with a Harvard-trained chemist to yield powerful results without sacrificing our commitment to eco-conscious practices. Along with a greater focus on overall physical and mental health, consumers are prioritizing sustainable skincare that works, so creating products that are good for you, even better for your skin, and safe for the environment is our North Star.


“The climate crisis makes upcycling necessary for the future, so we’ll continue to expand upon this. ”


Q

What type of upcycled ingredients do you use and where do you source them from?

A

We prioritize certified organic ingredients, but we’re also leaning into upcycled ingredients when possible. For instance, our certified organic plum oil is upcycled from a farm in France and our certified organic rice bran is upcycled from the waste product of the rice industry on a rice farm in Asia. The climate crisis makes upcycling necessary for the future, so we’ll continue to expand upon this.

Q

What tracing is involved in ensuring your ingredients are of high quality and sourced ethically?

A

We conducted extensive research during the product development phase to ensure our ingredients are responsibly sourced and work with suppliers who can verify the end-to-end lifespan from harvest to finished bulk ingredients. For example, the supplier for our organic baobab oil is processed at a facility that is Socially Responsible certified by the Swiss Institute for Marketecology, an international body for the inspection, certification, and quality control of organic, eco-friendly, and socially-responsible products.

As we grow, we would like to partner with mapping software companies that allow brands to track the social, financial, and environmental risks inherent in their supply chains.  

Q

What challenges did you face in building a conscious, sustainability-minded brand from the outset? Did you have to compromise on any of your original visions?

A

Our biggest challenges centered around finding ingredient and packaging partners with similar values, so it took more time than anticipated. Having said that, the due diligence paid off as our suppliers have become true partners. We’ll continue to grow our network and learn from others. I love that so many like-minded brands are willing to share their experiences, so we can evolve together in this space.


“We believe bettering ourselves and bettering the planet are not mutually exclusive.”


Q

Beyond your ingredients, I know your packaging materials are sourced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner (i.e. 100% recycled FSC certified material produced with renewable energy in a carbon neutral facility, minimizing your waste, water and energy footprint). Tell me more about your sustainability commitments now and how you see them evolving in the near term. 

A

We believe bettering ourselves and bettering the planet are not mutually exclusive. In addition to our 100% recycled FSC-certified product boxes, our glass manufacturing partner studies their carbon footprint to lead to further reduction of global CO2 and toxic air emissions. We leverage sustainable inks on all product packaging and printed materials and our suppliers use less polluting means of transport.

We aim to eliminate as much virgin material as possible from our packaging and components and this will continue to evolve as more innovative, post-consumer recycled materials become available. Our ultimate goal is to examine how we produce and consume through a sharper lens.

Q

Tell me more about the recyclability of the product bottles and droppers. More and more beauty brands are partnering with organizations like Pact or Terracycle to help ensure small beauty containers can be properly recycled. Do you have any plans for something similar?

A

Our product bottle supplier uses recycled glass in their manufacturing process to reduce the use of raw material, conserve energy, limit CO2 emissions and reduce their volume of waste. Our droppers are made from a material that produces four times less CO2 than PP or PET plastics and is made up of 40% cellulose, which is mainly paper pulp. We are looking into organizations like Pact and Terracycle as we recognize recycling programs vary by local municipalities.


“We saw firsthand the effects of how the global climate crisis is affecting some of the most vulnerable populations around the world. “


Q

I’d love to learn more about your social mission endeavours and future goals you have as a brand to continue making an impact through partnerships with climate organizations, non-profits, etc.

A

As I began envisioning this brand, I knew it was essential to demonstrate our values from day one, including our commitment to positive social and environmental impact. After all, it was the trip to Indonesia I mentioned previously that catapulted French Farmacie into motion. We saw firsthand the effects of how the global climate crisis is affecting some of the most vulnerable populations around the world. We stand for the inclusive protection of people and places affected by environmental hazards, so we partnered with 1% For The Planet prior to launch as a way to show our commitment.

We’re really excited about our 1% For The Planet non-profit partner, Intersectional Environmentalist, a climate justice community and resource hub centering BIPOC and other historically excluded voices from the environmental movement. We have been learning from them since their June 2020 inception and we’re proud to be one of their official amplification partners.

Our social impact goals center around amplifying the voices and stories of those who are affected by our mission and who are doing important work to protect marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.


“Consumers today are looking to find balance and connect with brands who support their personal commitments to sustainable living and expect products to be safe for them and the planet.”


Q

What are you observing about the new breed of conscious consumers and how they engage with brands? What feedback do you hear from your customers about what consumers now expect from the brands they buy from?

A

I’m inspired by the increasing consumer demand for more sustainable and socially responsible products, and as a brand owner, I welcome the conscious consumer’s engagement and feedback. Consumers today are looking to find balance and connect with brands who support their personal commitments to sustainable living and expect products to be safe for them and the planet. Consumers have the power to demand change and ultimately they can speak up with their wallets. When consumers choose to not spend their hard-earned dollars with a brand that is not aligned with their values, that is a powerful message. They can quite literally be the change they wish to see.

We’re still so young as a brand, but we often hear how intentional we are. People see it in our packaging and get a real sense of our values and that means so much to me. Customers tell us they feel good about their purchase, not only for the benefits they see in their skin, but the investment they’re making for the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Q

In what ways do you, yourself, adopt a sustainability mindset and live more mindfully in your day-to-day routine at home?

A

I try to walk the walk at home and my husband and I do our part to reduce, reuse, recycle, replenish and restore. We were an electric vehicle early adopter and opted for energy-efficient and green building materials when renovating our home.

As we continue to build French Farmacie, I want our company culture to reinforce our mission by promoting best practices from within. We have so much more to learn so it’s about having a growth mindset and looking to people and resources like Terram Primum to help guide us!


All photos courtesy of French Farmacie

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