“Inspiration is found everywhere, but it does help when you are only ten minutes away from the beach!” Founder of A Bit Hippy, Craig Jones, is inspired by the nature around him. His vegan skincare range gathers natural ingredients to create vegan skincare, deodorants, shampoos, conditioners and soaps for those seeking a vegan, cruelty-free alternative to the mass-produced, synthetic products on the market.
The Australian entrepreneur has achieved success in the competitive market of skincare. Part of that success can be largely credited to his commitment to creating products that are natural. The native surrounds of his home and business base, Burleigh Heads on Australia’s Gold Coast, has been the perfect breeding ground for his business vision.
The business side to his vision was inspired by how products are made outside the realm of using natural ingredients. “I was inspired to create A Bit Hippy after personal research. [It] lead me to understand the overwhelming number of unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients found throughout personal care products, shampoo, conditioner, deodorants, etc. I knew they could be a lot healthier; so I decided to create it myself. Our first slogan was ‘natural skincare you would do yourself, if only you had the time’. I believe this slogan really defined what it was that A Bit Hippy was trying to achieve.”
One would assume that it takes a vegan to create a skincare range like A Bit Hippy. This is not the case with Craig. He also believes there is a fine line between a vegan product and an unhealthy one. “I am not vegan myself,” he reveals. “However, something that really gets to me is companies that mislead consumers with incorrect notions such as ‘everything that is vegan is natural or healthy’. Nowadays, many companies advertise their ‘vegan’ ingredients. Consumers make the choice to purchase them thinking ‘if it’s vegan, it must be healthier or better for me’. The unfortunate truth is, a large majority of personal care products that advertise being vegan also contain harsh, synthetic ingredients. I wanted to give those living a vegan lifestyle the opportunity to access quality, synthetic-free products that are truly healthy.”
Currently, consumers are facing a crossroads as they’re starting to learn about the global impacts their purchasing habits are making. Being vegan is one of the best ways to help combat climate change, but how do companies like A Bit Hippy enact change? How does A Bit Hippy work towards achieving their business objectives while being kind to the environment? “We take our environmental impact very seriously,” Craig confirms. “Again, we look for real solutions rather than just ‘marketable’ ones. Most of our moisturisers are made in Queensland’s first carbon neutral facility that uses solar power and recycles its own water. Our packing boxes and brochures are made from recycled materials and are completely recyclable. We use non-laminated boxes for our packaging so they can be recycled, too. Our bottles and tubes are recyclable; personal care products aren’t suited to recycled plastic but ours are at least recyclable. We don’t use ingredients that are bad for the environment, such as SLS, silicones, parabens and palm oil, and our warehouse and head office building are completely solar-powered. We are also launching our first moisturiser in an aluminium tin in September.”
Many of A Bit Hippy’s products are suited to travellers, in particular the zero waste ‘soap saver’ bag. Though, the act of travel wasn’t the impetus to create the bag as Craig explains: “The idea behind the soap saver came after asking our customers why they preferred our cleansing bar over our liquid cleanser for sensitive souls. The main answers where along the lines of wastage and family economy.” So what would be A Bit Hippy’s most popular product? “Our aluminium free deodorant is by far our best seller. It’s so popular because it works, and it’s practical! 99% of natural deodorants on the market use bicarbonate as their main odour controlling ingredient. However, we have developed a secret potion that combines milk of magnesia with an essential oil blend that has proven to be way more effective and more gentle on the skin. Hundreds of our customers have reported this”.
While A Bit Hippy values its customers’ opinions and develops products in response to their customers’ feedback. Having said that, Craig believes mindset is one of the challenges that A Bit Hippy may encounter as a result of going the fully natural and plant-based route. “One of the main challenges consumers face is reconditioning their way of thinking. They are used to products performing a certain way. For example, if something foam it means it is cleansing. This is not necessarily true. You see, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is usually the key foaming agent in all washes. Why? Because it makes a great foam. However, this ingredient is petroleum derived and it dries the skin out. Instead of SLS we use healthy alternatives that will cleanse but will not foam as consumers are used to.”
Naturally, if a product is vegan the manufacture has an obligation to make the product as a cruelty-free one. This means avoiding animal testing. A Bit Hippy does not use or condone animal testing, though Craig is hesitant that the world will see a day when all animal testing is completely eradicated globally. “I believe animal testing will decrease over time, but won’t be completely eradicated. In our industry, animal testing is really not necessary. However, there are other industries such as those in pharmaceuticals that would see animal testing as part of their development, prior to testing in humans.”
For the future wellbeing of the planet, it is going to take companies like A Bit Hippy to make proactive changes in their product development and manufacturing processes, as Craig explained earlier. Then, consumer habits will follow suit. “We like to think that our general ethos and the quality of our products plant a seed in our consumer’s minds to make them and their families/friends more aware of healthier alternatives that are out there; which in turn help our planet.”
It seems, particularly for A Bit Hippy, that the future where companies can make a difference is nearer than people think. There are some exciting developments in store for A Bit Hippy. “We’re genuinely excited about our first refill event at Brisbane’s Vegan Expo,” Craig reveals. “We are working hard, not only to offer it to end consumers but to make it part of our business model so you can go to your local health shop and refill your A Bit Hippy products. Changing behaviours of how people purchase is very challenging but we are proud to be encouraging these changes with our business actions.”
If you’re in Brisbane in October, be sure to check out A Bit Hippy’s refill event at the 2019 Brisbane Vegan Expo. The event runs over two days from Saturday October 19 to Sunday October 20 from 10.00am to 4.00pm at Brisbane Showgrounds. You can purchase tickets to the event here. Tickets are $10.00 and $2.00 from every ticket sold will be donated to a vegan charity.