I am a huge supporter of small businesses, a giant supporter of natural products and obsessed with smart & witty packaging so when I was introduced to Sam’s Natural I was “naturally” drawn to it!
Sam’s Natural is a tale not only of how the American Dream is still achievable but also how it can be done ethically!
Sam, a mechanic, and his wife Kristen formulated the line to solve the grooming problems of the working man- everyday basic grooming problems that Sam and his fellow mechanics were experiencing and they wanted to do it while showing compassion for the world we live in. All of Sam’s Natural products are free of artificial preservatives, harmful ingredients and animal byproducts PLUS they are PETA Certified to be cruelty free + Vegan.
I sat down with Kristen Higginbottom Co-founder of Sam’s Natural to get the natural story from the woman behind Sam’s.
Q: Where did the idea for Sam’s Natural come from?
KH: Sam couldn’t get his hands clean for our wedding in 2008. He had been working in the auto technician field for 15 years and had never been about to really get his hands clean. We tried several hand cleansers that not only didn’t work, but were made with petroleum, which was exactly what we were trying to remove. We began talking about making soap and over several months started figuring out a way to make a natural hand scrub that really worked. When we came up with the first Original Walnut Scrub, Sam would bring the scrub to work with him and his fellow mechanics asked to try it. They loved it and wanted to buy it. So every week Sam began taking orders and this continued for several months. It was during this time we developed Hand+Repair and Knuckle Wax for their use as well, which they were also very responsive to. Their wives were telling us how nice their husbands hands felt and that they finally were able to hold hands. That meant a lot to us and we really liked being able to serve a community of working class people with natural products. It was a few months later we started our online store and have been growing like crazy ever since.
Q: How does a mechanic develop a manly line of grooming and personal care products?
KH: Our products are based on function first. They all do what they say they are going to do. All of our Sam’s Natural line has a purpose and a lot of testing and research is done before we launch any new products, so we can ensure they make sense and are a good fit for our customer base. They all come from a need and we address that need with a product.
Q: Your company is super sustainable, vegan and cruelty free. Being socially responsible in a world of “Get it done Quick and Cheap” isn’t the easiest approach. Why did you choose this route?
KH: Because it’s the right thing to do. There is absolutely no point of anyone using beeswax for cosmetics in 2013. We use Candelilla Wax which is a shrub found in the southwestern United States. Changing formulas to not participate in destroying our ecosystem was a no-brainer. Most people aren’t even aware that the bee population is collapsing right now believe it or not. The same with Palm oils. Palm oil is everywhere and while I’m sure it makes a nice bar of soap, there are ways around that. We make smart choices that feel right for the world and it’s just a coincidence that we can do this while keeping things affordable.
Q: How do you convince Manly Men that they need to groom?
KH: They honestly don’t need much convincing. We were surprised early on by their interest, in particular, for the Hand+Repair Lotion. Men really love lotion, but they don’t like women products dressed up as being made for them. We are genuine about who our products are geared for and we aren’t shy about letting people know that they are formulated for men.
Q: Where do the ideas for your products come from? I am beyond fascinated to know the story behind your Cedar and Salt shoe bags! (cotton muslin shoe bags that are packed with epsom salt-they absorb moisture and rid shoes of nasty foot odors)
KH: LOL – the Cedar & Salt Shoe Bags came from a little situation Sam had at work with a coworkers shoes….being kept in a locker next to Sam’s locker. I think we all now know that powders don’t work and sprays are scary. Cedar & Salt Shoe Bags were a diplomatic way for Sam to tell his coworker to stop stinking up the place. All of our products come from needs like that. Situational, spontaneous and quirky. We have a lot of fun naming them and deciding on styling.
Q: Not only are your products Man-tabulous, they also let the buyer Shop with a Cause. Tell me about your causes.
KH: I love “Man-tabulous”! We are really aware of the impact consumerism has on our environment. In our opinion, being responsible for what you take from the environment is a key part of having a solid and ethical business model. We never could have sold out and used ingredients without any thought behind them – that’s just not who we are. We saw a program on PBS called “The Buffalo War” that moved us both to tears… for days.. literally. It was one of the most influential films I’ve ever seen and we really support the Buffalo Field Campaign primarily because they continue their work of exploiting the insane daily torture and murder of Wild Buffalo despite being bullied by greedy ranchers and members of our government. They are very brave and an independent, small group of folks doing honest work. We also support the World Wildlife Foundation for it’s work saving Big Cats, and the Humane Society of the United States for their amazing investigative work. We are PROUD to be Peta-Certified Vegan + Cruelty Free and we know the responsibility that it carries. We’re happy to support the ones without voices in our world and hope to spread our outreach much further in years to come.