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Ethical business practices

Eco Lips offers protection from the elements without petroleum and without harming the environment

Sunday, October 08, 2006 by: Elizabeth Nancy
Tags: ethical business practices, Eco Lips, lip balm

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Elizabeth: Hello everyone, this is Elizabeth reporting for the NewsTarget Network, and I'm speaking with Steve Shriver, president and founder of Eco Lips. You know, a lot of different things really attracted me to your product and your company, and I think one of the most important things behind your product is actually your company's manufacturing practices. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about your solar panel systems and your ingredients.

Steve: Sure. We started with a great foundation -- which is a great product with certified organic ingredients and recycled packaging -- whenever possible. We wanted to start with a really solid green product, if you will. But, with all the people involved in Eco Lips, that wasn't good enough -- so we wanted to continually look at all facets of the company to see what more we could do to decrease our detriment to the environment. One of the things we initiated last year was a solar-powered project, which became Iowa's largest solar-powered project. We partnered with five organizations, including government organizations, and received grants -- and now, our plant isn't fully powered by solar power, but we have solar power fueling it. We have a couple of other things in the works, but hopefully someday it will be completely off the grid.

Elizabeth: Excellent -- so the ultimate goal is to make petroleum-free products without using any petroleum in your manufacturing in any way -- even to power generators or equipment?

Steve: Absolutely.

Elizabeth: When you talk about your products, I know that they are certified organic in many ways -- which is definitely important to our readers -- but what I like about your products, now that I've had a chance to use a couple of your different lip balms for a little more than a week, is that not only are they healthy for my lips, but they go on so smoothly. They are also non-greasy and they don't clump up or anything -- it's like you don't even know it's there -- which I think is one of the awesome aspects your products.

Steve: Thank you. You know, it's a competitive world out there, and the last thing I want to do is put a mediocre product on the market -- even if it was the greenest product in the world, because what would be the point? We really put a lot of effort into these formulations and we only make lip balm, so we try really hard to make it better than anybody else, to package it better than anybody else and to have it work better than any of our competitors' products.

Elizabeth: You've really done a great job of doing that on this product.

Steve: Thank you. It helps working with these great organic ingredients. When we manufacture, we use extremely low temperatures so we can keep the oils as alive as possible. We start with these really high-quality ingredients like organic jojoba oil, organic beeswax and organic essential oils. The outcome can be so much greater than when you are starting with petrolatum and carnauba wax or something like that.

Elizabeth: And those low processing temperatures are also important, if I understand, in making sure that the nutrients stay intact.

Steve: That's right. It's like if you cook asparagus for 20 minutes versus four, you're going to end up with a lot less nutrients that end up in your body. The same thing goes for really fresh vegetable oil -- and we want to reduce the amount of time it's on the stove -- so, we make really small batches, and for the most part, it's hand-processed and handmade at as cool a temperature as possible. The outcome, as you said, is superior to anybody else's.

Elizabeth: Now, you have a whole lot of different formulations in your lip balm, but three of them really grabbed my attention. The first one being the jojoba gold -- how would you describe that one? How is it positioned?

Steve: Eco Lips' goal is this: The idea there was just to make an all-out, great-working lip moisturizer for use any time of the day or night, where it's just a really hard-core lip moisturizer. We did that by reducing the amount of ingredients that are in the product -- less than 10 ingredients -- and it's basically organic jojoba oil, organic beeswax, vitamin E, organic marigold, also called calendula, vitamin C and vitamin A. By not having flavor, we're able to put more healing ingredients into it, but flavor would be the ultimate goal. With lip moisturizer, which is how we coin that product, we don't want to flavor it -- because that would negatively impact the overall formulation, in a sense.

Elizabeth: So, the entire formulation is optimum for an organic, naturally-based lip moisturizer?

Steve: Yes. It's 95 percent organic ingredients and it's got more jojoba oil in it than any other lip product on the market. Jojoba oil is a superior skin moisturizer due to the molecular similarity to the skin's own natural oil, so it can really relate to the skin, and it does. Just like you said, you can't even tell that it's on -- but you can, because your lips aren't chapped anymore. But, it's really expensive and that's why most companies don't use it.

Elizabeth: The jojoba oil?

Steve: Yes, the jojoba specifically.

Elizabeth: Now, because we do have a lot of vegan readers and raw readers who just prefer to keep any kind of animal byproduct away from their body -- and we understand that need -- it looks like you've actually fulfilled that need quite well with the Vegan Bee Free lip balm. I really like this product.

Steve: Yes, Bee Free is the name. We wanted to make this product because we have a few vegans here -- and some of our representatives are vegan and we know that. Well, vegans need products, too, and we looked at all the other products on the market. [Others] can sacrifice quality when working with vegan products, in a way -- at least in the lip balm category. There are very mediocre products that have a vegan label on them. We wanted to make one better than all those, so again, we are using the organic jojoba oil and we use the vegetable wax -- which is calendula wax -- and cocoa butter, which kind of binds it all together. We've got a very light lemon-lime essential oil blend, and the combination gives you that very smooth glide. If you didn't tell anybody there's no beeswax in there, they wouldn't even know. It's just a really nice-working lip balm.

Elizabeth: It looks like it's a primarily organic product, as well. Is it the vitamin E and the vitamin C that prevent you from saying it's 100 percent organic? Does it have something to do with labeling laws?

Steve: Well, actually -- at this point -- that one is only 70 percent organic, because the calendula wax is not yet available certified organic, and it actually takes up quite a large percentage. But yes, you're right -- vitamin E and C aren't available organic just yet either, so we try to go organic with all our formulas we use. If there's any ingredient that we are using that's available certified organic, then we're going to be using it. Right now, we are working with buyers to try to find the missing link -- we're striving for 100 percent.

Elizabeth: I assume that while these suppliers haven't obtained the organic certification yet, you're still working with the best possible suppliers on these products.

Steve: Absolutely, always looking for better quality, better choices and triple-checking, and there is a huge process to make sure that all the paperwork on each raw material is accurate before we put it into our product.

Elizabeth: The third one that grabbed my attention, which is the medicinal one, is that it's targeted for people with cold sores. Can you describe it?

Steve: That's a good question. That one is really specifically made for people with cold sores and it's made to heal cold sores. There are a couple components in there that have a bit of a drying effect, so it's not going to work as well as the overall lip balm; although, we get testimonials from people saying it's the greatest lip balm they've ever used -- but it's just made really to hone in on the cold sore problem and essentially zap it. We get testimonials -- and they are on our website at EcoLips.com -- every day where people have tried every kind of cold sore medication prescription, nonprescription and over-the-counter product for years and years and years -- and then they found our product, Medicinal Lips. It has not only eliminated the cold sores that were present, but it has reduced the frequency of the cold sore problem.

Elizabeth: Great. I see that one of the ingredients here is organic tea tree oil, which in Chinese medicine, at least, is a significant herb when it comes to combating things like cold sores.

Steve: That's right. It's kind of like a "miracle," you know, and it's as close to that kind of ingredient as it comes. It is truly an amazing oil and we have a very high concentration of tea tree oil without the nasty flavor associated with tea tree. We are actually the first in the country to use this in a product.

Elizabeth: Excellent -- and I see that it's certified organic as well.

Steve: Yes it is, and so are the other ingredients that really help this product. What we're doing there has quite a bit to do with a really nice synergy between ingredients, which are L-Lysine, organic calendula and organic lemon balm. The combination of those four just really hits all levels at the cellular level of the skin and really just heals it up and makes cold sores go away -- and then prevents further cold sores from happening.

Elizabeth: That is great. Now, to sort of separate from your product and your manufacturing -- both of which have really great ethics behind them -- I seem to recall that your company reached a pretty exciting milestone this quarter.

Steve: That's right -- we had our first profitable quarter.

Elizabeth: Congratulations.

Steve: Thank you very much. Yes, we've been working very hard. This is our third year and we've put a lot of energy into this and a lot of money to get enough market share from the petroleum competitors. We were trying to make it work, month after month, and not profiting. We had this initiative that we started last year, Profit for the Planet, and we pledged to donate one percent of our profits to environmentally focused organizations. It didn't mean anything when we weren't profiting, but it's exciting now -- we finally had our first quarter that was profitable, so we're going to write our first check here in the next month.

Elizabeth: Now you get to identify causes that you feel are worthy and send them a check, correct?

Steve: That's right, and the first one is not going to be huge, so we actually chose a small organization so we could have the greatest amount of impact with this amount of money.

Elizabeth: Understandable. Not only is your company creating great products with ethics, manufacturing with ethics and constantly striving for improvement there -- you're giving back to the planet.

Steve: That's right.

Elizabeth: I tell you, that's a nice trifecta.

Steve: Yes, we think so also.

Elizabeth: Now, in terms of our readers being able to buy your products, where would they find them?

Steve: They would find them at most natural food stores throughout the United States. We also distribute into several other countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some in the European Union and Japan. The easiest place to buy our products is at www.EcoLips.com, and we don't charge shipping. We make it pretty easy for people to get it.

Elizabeth: So, when customers are in the food stores looking for your product, like the three we discussed, and the other four in your line, they will all be clearly branded Eco Lips, correct?

Steve: Eco Lips, that's right, and there's only one. When you go to food stores, you can ask for it by name.

Elizabeth: That's just great. Is there anything else that you think is important for us to share with our readers?

Steve: Don't panic -- it's organic.

Elizabeth: Nice, very nice.

Steve: We've covered it all, yes.

Elizabeth: Excellent, Steve. I'd just like to wrap this interview up with the reminder to all of our readers that neither I personally, nor the NewsTarget Network, receives any kind of financial compensation for doing this product review. We are telling our readers about your product simply because we think it's a great product that we've tested here, and we think your company has great practices.

Steve: Thank you very much.


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