Laurel Farm

Slow Farmed Beauty, A Reverence For People + Planet


Laurel Farm Beauty Heroes has been a proud partner of Laurel Skin for almost eight years. Because the Laurel Skin Lab and headquarters are just a few miles up the road from us, we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a deep connection with the brand, picking up our orders in person in most instances, enjoying visits and trainings by Laurel and her team in person, and even the opportunity to tour her lab and the observe the mindful way they make each product by hand.

Over the years, Laurel has taught us a lot about ingredient sourcing and how it impacts not only the quality of the finished product, but communities, people and the planet.

In honor of Earth Day, we asked Laurel to teach us more about her process of crafting what she calls slow-farmed beauty. Her answers to my questions are real talk and are as specific and intentional as her products, with a deep desire to honor plant wisdom and mother earth with every meticulous ingredient sourcing decision. We hope you enjoy this special Blue Beauty interview with the mother of slow-farmed beauty, Laurel.

Laurel

Jeannie: How do you define Slow Farmed Beauty? 

Laurel: For me, Slow Farmed Beauty is aligned with the Slow Food or Slow Fashion movements. When we look closely, we can see that fast food and fast fashion can be really harmful to both people and planet – the beauty industry is no different in that regard. Our Slow Farmed Beauty approach was birthed from those same ideals to put care and mindful intention into everything we do and to do no harm. It is a slow process to do things in a way that is truly aligned with what is best for the Earth and for all the beings that call this planet home. A slow process that cannot possibly put profit first.

I strayed away from the phrase Slow Beauty, because that phrase is typically associated with slowing down to care for oneself – and while I see that as incredibly important, it has nothing to do with doing less harm as a business or having less harm in the supply chain. Beauty products (as well as fashion and food) can tell a very romantic marketing story, but when the sourcing supply chain includes unethical treatment of humans (farmers or employees), disrespect of Indigenous lands or communities, destruction of animal habitats or putting plant species at risk – that marketing story becomes an illusion which aids in harm and corruption.

Laurel Farm

Our Slow Farmed Beauty approach includes a variety of factors but is built on the foundation of human connection and relationships. We genuinely care about all the human hands who seed and harvest our ingredients to those who pack up our shipments. We advocate within our industry for farmers to get paid for their actual time, as opposed to by the pound, which does not result in a livable wage. On average, we pay 2-5x more what bulk organic international ingredients cost with the intention to support domestic farmers and lower our carbon footprint by bringing sourcing closer to home. Yearly, we contribute to domestic farms’ financial needs in other ways like the purchasing of equipment, water fees, or labor costs. We have done this for struggling small family farms that we don’t get ingredients from, as well as collaboratives which focus on bringing farming back to Black and Indigenous communities.

From a planetary health perspective, we only work with farmers who have a regenerative operation and have a genuine reciprocal relationship with the land that they steward. Absolutely no pesticides, GMOs, glyphosate, or anything that will eventually make its way into our water supply or food chain. We work with farmers who truly love and respect the Earth, and that feeling of letting Nature lead comes through in our products.

Laurel Farm

J: How do Slow Farmed ingredients differ from wildcrafted ingredients? 

L: Slow Farmed ingredients are planned from seed to bottle. Laurel Skin works with our farms at the beginning of each year to ensure they are planting what we need and that they have the resources they need for the year ahead. They then work all throughout the year to “give back” to the planet through the practice of regenerative agriculture, which is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity of the ecosystem, enriches soils, and improves watersheds. This type of sourcing is reciprocal by promoting the culture of living in relationship with the land.

Laurel Farm Wildcrafted ingredients are taken from an environment pre-existing in Nature. This is not reciprocal and doesn’t give back – it only takes. And this is something to keep a close eye on, because it can be disrespectful to domestic Indigenous lands, or it can bring harm to international Indigenous economies. Wildcrafting can also disrupt animal habitats leading to extinction or endangerment for species of both plants and animals. There is a reverence and respect for the planet missing in this act of taking for profit without considering the broader and longer-term consequences for Mother Earth.

J: Do you think it is possible for companies, like beauty companies or food companies to make a positive impact on the planet, by sourcing their ingredients in an ethical, responsible and slow way? Or are they just minimizing their impact on the environment? 

L: Yes, I definitely think regenerative farming is positively impacting the environment and all humans (as a part of Nature) benefit as well. There are many who argue that regenerative farming can have a reverse effect on climate change. Reducing conventional practices like large-scale industrial agriculture, mass pesticide/glyphosate use, and eliminating GMOs are things that could absolutely turn things around for our planetary home. Earth is so resilient and swiftly powerful when harm is removed! While Laurel Skin is only doing this on a very small scale, I feel it is the responsibility of all of us within ‘green beauty’ – or we probably shouldn’t be making any sustainability claims.

J: Do you think that the increased demand for plant-based ingredients is having a positive impact on the environment? 

L: Not necessarily. I think it all goes back to a level of reverence and respect for Mother Earth. There is either a deep level of understanding and intense bond there that rules the decisions of an individual (or multiple individuals within a brand) or that level of understanding and relationship to Nature is simply not present. If it’s there, a brand is never going to put profit as a priority over Mother Earth. But if that relationship and understanding isn’t there, plant-based brands can still act out of ignorance or greed – especially if they are far removed from the actual sourcing process itself and know very little about it. Based on how quickly green beauty is growing into the corporate world of Walmart to Sephora, I believe that will do more harm, yes. Because all of those people involved are not operating out of that sense of integrity and alignment with Nature. All of that said, of course, when a brand is operating out of that Nature-centered place, then using plant-based ingredients can have a positive impact. It all depends on who is at the helm.

J: How do you feel slow farmed ingredients translate to our bodies and to our skin?

L: Right! This is important too! Hands down it is so easy to see the visible difference in our ingredients compared to bulk commercial ingredients. They are more vibrant in color, which is a direct translation to their level of antioxidants and nutrients. Laurel Skin’s Slow Farmed ingredients impact how potent, effective and result-driven our products are for the skin. Additionally, we often hear that people can ‘feel the love’. This is always the biggest compliment I can receive. I have genuine love for our Earth, for our farmers, for our ingredients and for every step of the process from seed to bottle. That “love in our supply chain” is an energy that can be felt by every cell of our bodies when we tune into it. I have no doubt that energy defines who we are as a brand in a way that people can only feel, but not describe.