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20 years of Green People organic beauty

05/01/2017 by Poppy

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The arrival of 2017 has been hotly anticipated at Green People, because this year marks our 20th anniversary!

Two decades have passed since Charlotte Vøhtz launched her pioneering organic beauty brand and an awful lot has changed in the world of natural cosmetics since then. When Green People was founded, organic beauty was far from the norm and the trend had yet to be set for a more natural approach to beauty.

We’re taking a look back at some of the milestone moments from the last 20 years at Green People. Join us as we rediscover what made us the organic beauty pioneers, from the very first product we launched, to helping create the world’s first standards for certified organic cosmetics.

Green People’s first product

The first products created by Green People were gentle salves for sensitive and eczema prone skin. Using a combination of natural and organic ingredients such as Calendula, Chamomile and Beeswax, Charlotte developed her own remedies for her daughter Sandra’s sore, irritated skin.

Charlotte searched the high street for natural products that would be gentle on Sandra’s sensitive skin, but found that many so-called natural skin care brands used almost entirely synthetic ingredients. Charlotte also discovered that many so called ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ cosmetics contained as little as 0.1% natural or organic ingredients. Shocked at what she found, she determined to create truly organic products for her daughter and others with similar needs.

“I see this as ‘a mission’ – I am meant to be doing it. We continually receive feedback from customers and it is so satisfying to be sent testimonials telling us how we have helped transform a customer’s skin problem – and the buzz we get from knowing we have made a difference makes it all worthwhile."
Charlotte Vøhtz

Since the development of the first natural salve, Green People now makes over 100 certified natural and organic products that cater for all the family. Versions of our original salves, such as our Soothing Baby Salve, still exist today and have remained firm customer favourites for their gentle, effective soothing properties with natural healing ingredients. A favourite amongst customers for general skin irritations, nappy rash and cradle cap.

Persistence paid off - our first stockist

Charlotte’s background in the pharmaceutical industry meant that after 11 years of training she knew what natural really was and realised that many companies were not being honest in their marketing and customers were being misled. It took several visits to the shop to persuade them that they should try truly natural beauty products.

Green People's first stockist in 1997 was a small independent health shop in Horsham, called The Natural Way. It stocked a selection of Green People products including Vitamin Cream (now called Vita Min Fix), Cleansing Milk (now called Gentle Cleanse) and Facial Gel (now called Hydrating Firming Serum).

From one tiny shop in Horsham, to the shelves of many national and international retailers, including Waitrose, Whole Foods and Ocado, Green People products can now be found in every UK city and abroad. Despite how much the company has grown, to this day you can still find Green People products on the shelves of The Natural Way!

Creating the standards

Before Charlotte launched Green People, there were no standards for natural and organic cosmetics - organic certification only applied to food and drink.

With many brands using misleading claims about natural and organic products, Charlotte was compelled to do something to bring some clarity to the beauty sector. Back in 1994 she approached the Soil Association, the leading UK organisation for organic certification, to encourage them to form standards for organic health and beauty products.

It took several years and many calls to convince them that up to 60% of what you apply on the skin can pass directly into the bloodstream and end up in the body's organs and fatty tissue.

They finally agreed that standards for beauty products had its place, and in 1999 Charlotte was invited to be on a Soil Association committee to design the world’s first standards for organic beauty. Charlotte, and later Green People’s Cosmetic Scientist, Ian Taylor, played a part in setting natural and organic cosmetic regulations. In 2002 the world’s first standard for organic cosmetics was formed/finalised.

From its very conception, Green People has helped to shape the way the world sees organic beauty and created clarity for people looking for a more natural way of life.

Green People’s first award

We love getting awards at Green People and so far we have collected over 150 of them. Despite having won so many awards from different organisations, magazines and beauty experts, there’s something special about getting your very first award to recognise all the hard work that has gone into creating a brand.

Green People’s first recorded award was from Proof magazine in 2004, which ranked our natural deodorants as excellent, they have since gone on to win multiple awards and are now stocked in Waitrose stores nationwide.

Our first website

The first Green People website launched in 1999 before the online shopping boom. What customers didn’t know is that Charlotte and Emily (Emily is now Green People’s Product Manager) would take a wheelbarrow down to the small product store, package up the orders and send them out to customers from the family home.

Now we send out thousands of online orders every month, with parcels coming direct from our very busy warehouse at Green People HQ.

Organic Children Shampoo - Lavender Burst 200ml

Organic Children Shampoo - Lavender Burst 200ml

Gentle, natural lavender shampoo for children

£9.95

From Happy Kids to Organic Children

What started as one brand has now grown into ranges for the whole family. Green People’s first sub-brand was Happy Kids, now called Organic Children, a natural range for kids that is gentle on even the most sensitive skin. Charlotte wanted to create a range of gentle, organic kids’ products that she would have dreamed of finding for her daughter’s allergy-prone skin.

Now Organic Children is joined by Organic Babies for children under three, Organic Young for teens and tweens, Organic Homme for men and Age Defy+ for mature skin.

Keep an eye out this year for lots of exciting new launches and some of our existing products getting a fresh new look.

Moving to the Knepp Castle wildland project

From our founder’s garden shed to a tiny office in Handcross, we now enjoy an eco-friendly office in the Sussex countryside. Green People HQ has been situated on the Knepp Castle wildland project for the last 13 years. The money we pay in rent helps to support this outstanding conservation project that has transformed over 1,000 acres of intensive farming land into a natural paradise for countless species. We are lucky enough to be neighbours with three types of deer, Exmoor ponies, endangered butterflies and even wild pigs!

Read more about the Knepp wildland project

As an eco-friendly organic company, we do everything we can to minimise our impact on the environment. The Green People office and warehouse run on clean, sustainable energy from Ecotricity and we use recyclable packaging, including compostable packing chips instead of polystyrene.

Ahead of the curve

Over the years we have been at the forefront in researching cutting edge organic ingredients to be continuously adding more benefits to our products.

“As we extend our product range here at Green People, we always seek the latest developments in plant ingredient research and incorporate these new performance actives into our products. In this way, we have created highly effective, specialist anti-blemish, anti-aging and hypersensitivity ranges”
Charlotte Vøhtz

We have come a long way from our original packaging designs, but while the tubes, bottles and tubs have been updated over the years, many of the products remain the same as when we first launched them 20 years ago. These longstanding hero products may have been updated to include cutting edge natural actives, but they have stood the test of time with trusted ingredients that are just as good today as when they first launched.

Gimmicky cosmetic ingredients come and go with the trends, but high quality, effective natural ingredients are here to stay.

Our first tweet

Green People’s social media presence has grown and grown since our first tweet all the way back in 2009

If you don’t follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, come and join our wonderful organic-loving community for exclusive news, offers and natural lifestyle chat.

Whether you have a quick question about a product or you need help with your order, our social media team is on hand to help.

Messages from charities we support

Green People was founded on a strong set of beliefs and values to give something back and to help others. One of the ways in which we give back is by donating 10% of our net profit to charitable causes. Since 1997 we have been proud to work with some incredible charities, here are a few words from some that have benefitted from our support.

Penny Brohn Cancer Care

“We cannot thank Green People enough for their fantastic and dedicated support of Penny Brohn Cancer Care over the last eight years. It has been a pleasure working with all of the team. An amazing £84,000 has been generously donated over the years and has gone towards helping people to live well with cancer.”

Marine Conservation Society

“We are delighted to be working with a company that is actively ensuring their products don’t put the marine environment at risk. The partnership has boosted MCS funds by over £45,000 since 2011, great news for MCS but even better news for corals and wild fish that will have fewer chemicals to contend with if we can encourage people to choose these natural sunscreens.”

Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice

“We are grateful for the wonderful support over the years. I would like to say a heartfelt thank you from all of us at Chestnut Tree House to Green People for raising £60,000, as well as donating products and prizes for our annual Snowman Spectacular Ball. It is thanks to the wonderful support of companies like Green People that enables us to continue providing hospice care to life-limited children and their families across Sussex.”

A few words from our customers

"Thank you for making such beautiful products! Your story has hit a chord in our family, our daughter to is battling allergies and I trawled the Internet for natural products! Finally, I have found you, and fingers crossed her skin is slowly improving! No tears, no pain she's happy to put the cream on! A million thanks, for beautiful products that care for sensitive baby skin with no nasties and no gluten (our biggest trigger). Thank you all and your service has been fantastic."
Rebecca J

"I just want to say a huge thank you for your article on PLE. I was diagnosed with PLE around 20 years ago and advised by the dermatologist to use a high factor scent free sun screen which I could obtain on prescription. I tried several sunscreens which seemed to make my PLE worse and then a friend recommended Green People. Well I have never looked back, I use your creams from April onwards and no sign of blisters.
Grateful thanks to Green People, you made my life so much easier. My husband was so impressed he uses your products too."
Janet W

"It's wonderful to find a responsible company that cares about public health and what goes on our skin, as well as caring for other living species too. It seems a rare thing these days and I certainly hope you keep doing what you're doing. It gives me hope and faith when I see that there are indeed caring and responsible companies out there who have more than profits on their mind!"
Helga H

Get in touch

Do you have a favourite memory about Green People? Do you remember the first time you discovered the brand or do any of our products hold special meaning to you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or on social media using #GPturns20.

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