When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, Liz and Geneva, self-confessed ‘crazy, insane and ambitious mother-daughter duo’ have a purpose. What started as a family owned business in 1983, Shampoo With A Purpose is now a fully-fledged Australian owned all-vegan body-care business.
What separates Shampoo With a Purpose from other body-care businesses is Liz and Geneva’s strong work ethic and a deep desire to create products that are cruelty free, palm oil free with minimal wastage. Like any business, it takes hard work and a range of life experiences to arrive with a tempting product range. Liz comes from the body-care industry while Geneva fledged her beginnings in the music industry.
Both backgrounds demand a special type of grit and exceptional creativity, as Geneva explains. “We wanted to put our own twist on the shampoo bar by creating something that is more affordable and efficacious for hair.”
From the moment a box of Shampoo With a Purpose’s shampoo and conditioner bar is opened, its sweet and rich scent wafts to seduce the senses. “We changed the manufacturing process to work with new machinery and reinvented how the shampoo bar works for this range. Our concept was ‘no nasties’ and I believe we’ve formulated an excellent natural bar that isn’t too hard on your wallet either.”
Liz and Geneva also have a passion for creating vegan-friendly products, yet Geneva explains they are not fully vegan. Still, they are driven by a vegan business ethic which goes to show that businesses do have the ability to adapt. “Mum and I are mostly vegetarian…We believe in vegetarian and vegan skincare with a passion – animal by-products and ingredients derived from animal fats go against our ethics.”
Not only does Geneva instill vegan business ethics, her time in the music industry exposed her to prominent vegan artists. “I suppose I’ve drawn inspiration from Jess Cerro (Montaigne), her incredible championing of veganism and ethical choice within the Sydney music scene goes without comparison.”
As much as Shampoo With a Purpose refrains from animal-derived ingredients, the company sources sustainable ingredients. Many companies on the market do not use palm oil, but Geneva explains this is where the comparison ends. “Our product is a unique formulation. It’s a combined shampoo and conditioner bar and you can use it on your whole body. One bar is worth up to six bottles of shampoo and conditioner. At $15 a bar, that’s incredible value for money. We have the most affordable shampoo bar on the market and it lasts for the longest amount of time. We created a product that aims for ultimate customer happiness and solid eco-sustainability.”
A common practice in the body-care industry is the use of tallow, a rendered form of cow or sheep fat. Shampoo With a Purpose was the first body-care company to reject this practice, ensuring the company set the precedent for other businesses. “At the time Liz was praised by the industry. It has always been against her beliefs to use products derived from animal fats and mineral oils. She has made a career of being ahead of the curve; not just trends, but important ethical changes in the industry. We are about to enter our 38th year of business which is a testament to Liz’s ability to stay one step ahead.”
Another unethical practice in the body-care industry is the use of animals in product testing and development. Shampoo With A Purpose prides itself on its cruelty-free ethic, too. Geneva is adamant that these practices are no longer needed and it’s high-time that existing laws in some countries change. “Animal-testing is deeply sad and wholly unnecessary. Unfortunately, certain governments across the world mandate that cosmetic products be tested on animals when being imported in. I believe there are other ethical methods of testing that do not require the suffering of innocents.
It’s amazing to have watched the shift toward cruelty-free and ethical cosmetics in Australia and the globe. Should consumer demand continue on [this] current path, we will be well on our way to a cruelty-free world. We also must not tire in our efforts to demand our governments amend legislation around importing and exporting to ensure that this changes in the future.”
In the current social climate when consumers want to minimise waste and live a more mindful lifestyle, shampoo bars like those created by Shampoo With A Purpose are the new generation in body-care. Bars offer a combined shampoo/conditioner product solution without using single-use plastic bottles. The take-up from consumers is gaining momentum, as Geneva explains. “Shampoo bars are now a fairly established product that most people have heard of. However, when we launched, they were not quite so widespread. Our initial education was solely around what a shampoo bar is. The consumer knowledge has now changed so much that we mainly focus on how to use it. There has definitely been a few [sceptics] but luckily the sceptics convert quickly after they use our products.”
Shampoo With A Purpose has an extensive range of combined shampoo/conditioner bars that are each suited to dry and damaged hair, coloured hair, hair needing volume, or hair that is simply aching for the ultimate wash (aptly named The O.G). All bars are individually packaged in gorgeous card boxes, each with distinct illustrations. “A lot of my packaging influence is European; I like how clean the design is, but I’ve also added some fun and flair and true Aussie feelings to our packaging, which I personally love.”
Each bar lathers quickly and gives hair a luxuriously soapy experience while conditioning the hair at the same time. Once dry, hair feels softer, supple and glows with renewed shine; even for colour-treated and straightened hair. “I love our Dry or Damaged bar. The essential oil blend is absolutely delightful, however, since I recently coloured my hair I’ve had great results and long-lasting tones in my hair with our Colour Treated bar.”
Not only do these bars store happily in the shower, and double up as a body-wash bar, they can be transported in a soap carrier during travel. A Shampoo With A Purpose bar saves valuable packing space as well as space on any shower rack (yes, Shampoo With A Purpose sell wooden soap racks). Travellers will be pleased to know that eco-friendly travel packs are now being developed, as Geneva reveals. “This has been coming for quite a while. Initially we were looking at a sugar cane and coconut husk fibre that would be biodegradable. However, upon further research it seems that a lot of the containers that are claimed as compostable often need commercial composting facilities to break down or are just outright falsely claimed plastics that will not break down at all. I am not comfortable selling a faulty product or lying to customers about how it will break down (many companies are doing this at the moment, green-washing is a huge concern for the public and our environment) so this process was pushed back.
“We are now working on a tin that will be stainless and long-lasting and that can be recycled at the end of its life. This is not far away so please keep an eye out on our website. I know a lot of people have been waiting for us to release this but we need to get it right and we don’t want to stock product that is not truly harmless to the environment.”
Shampoo With A Purpose’s commitment to eco-friendly packaging doesn’t end there. Shower With A Purpose’s range has extended to include Minimal Essentials dishwasher bar, stain-removing laundry sticks and laundry remedy chemical free freshener; the freshener comes in a recyclable bottle. “The bottles we use are aluminium bottles with aluminium caps. These are approved for your recycling bin after you clean them out following use. They [can be] easily reused once thoroughly cleaned and I currently use them to store spices at my home. If you can find a second life or you can recycle a bottle, under our code of ethics we deem that as minimal waste and preferable to plastics that often cannot be recycled.”
Running a business will always involve travel, and Geneva reveals how Shampoo With A Purpose works towards reducing its impact in this respect, too. “We often do have to travel for work. We are working on an independent system for carbon reduction of our travel (we are currently planting our own trees and are working to expand on this) as I believe this is one of the most heartbreaking side-effects of air travel in particular.”
It’s clear that Liz and Geneva are operating from a strong sense of purpose and this isn’t going to change in the near future. While some smaller businesses are lured by being bought by a bigger business, Geneva sees the opportunity authentically lies at an ethical level. “I think that with how we are all changing as a society and how the culpability of business and government is at the forefront of our climate responsibility, these things will not change. We will continue to make ethical decisions around how we manufacture, what we manufacture and who we manufacture for – and Shampoo With A Purpose will always be an Australian-made, eco-sustainable, vegan, cruelty-free, palm-oil free and harsh-chemical free brand.”
Operating from a cruelty-free position also filters into Geneva and Liz’s home-life. Their two beloved dogs, Oli and Didi, came into her life out of necessity. “Oli and Didi are our beautiful Beagles, came into our lives when a dear friend of ours found out her dog was pregnant and she desperately needed to home them. They just turned one and they are the most spoilt dogs on the planet. I am adopting another dog later this year from my local shelter. There’s no better joy in life than the mutual love we have with our animals.”
Currently, the actions of the individual are important when the future of the planet is concerned. Shampoo With A Purpose, therefore, offers an alternative for those who want to live more consciously. Geneva is convinced that everyone – at an individual level – can do their bit. “I have so much respect for those who maintain a vegan lifestyle, and I also think it’s important that people know that whatever they can do is appreciated.
With our bars I feel proud knowing that we are providing one alternative out of many things that anyone can choose in their everyday life. If you can do one or two things to change your habits for the benefit of the environment, be that going vegan, driving less, recycling more, taking more care to buy local and from small business – all these little things have an impact. You don’t have to do it all; a million people making a reduction of their carbon footprint is better than a few people having zero carbon foot-print. Collectively we can make an effort but half of the energy should go towards lobbying big business and government for large-scale change.”
Discover Shampoo With A Purpose’s full range for yourself by visiting their website and online shop. You can contact Shampoo With A Purpose to find your nearest stockist. You can also visit their Facebook and Instagram pages.
Shampoo/conditioner bars are AUD$15.00 and soap racks are AUD$4.00. Or, why not try a sample pack which is priced at AUD$7.00. Minimal Essentials dishwashing blocks are $7.50, laundry stain-removing sticks are AUD$6.00, and the laundry refresher is AUD$24.00. Postage fees apply.