FIT Sustainable Beauty Symposium

By Bryce Payne, MNY Director of Operations

Yesterday marked the first day of the Sustainable Fashion, Health, and Beauty Symposium at FIT. Juliette (who I’m thrilled to welcome back to our team) and I were both there representing Manufacture New York. The two of us split up to cover as many workshops as we could, so I had the rare opportunity to attend a couple discussions on one of my favorite subjects: Sustainable Beauty. It was a great day. I ended up learning so much about the ins and outs of creating, sustaining, and using natural and sustainable beauty products, and even brushed up on some relevant ingredient knowledge. I found a lot of interest and comfort listening to so many amazing social entrepreneurs speak about the challenges of building and running a sustainable business; a lot of their struggles were all too familiar, but it was nice to hear about how they managed them and pulled through.

The highlight of the day was a roundtable moderated by the lovely Kristen Arnett (Founder of called “Starting a Sustainable Beauty Brand”. During the workshop, powerhouse panelists like Kim Grustas, Founder of Good For You Girls and Shirley Pinkson, Make-up Guru and Founding Partner of W3ll People Cosmetics, discussed the trials, joys, and little known facts of creating and managing a cosmetics business in the sustainable market.

One thing that really resonated with me during their discussion was this regular return to the definition of sustainability. I think that’s something that anyone with an interest in or commitment to the sustainable lifestyle will inevitably come back to. What is sustainability? The ladies recounted many tales of being pulled in different directions by customers, retailers, and press contacts with many different focuses. Their products are under constant scrutiny, and the standards shift depending on who they are dealing with. Is it organic? Ok, it’s organic, but is it Free Trade. Is it Vegan? Is it Gluten Free? Why do you use plastic? These are the kinds of questions they come up against on a daily basis, and they really do mirror the many decisions that all of us face on a daily basis trying to make the healthiest, most sustainable decisions we can in a world that just isn’t perfect.

What I really took home with me was this, taken from a remark I believe Nancy Caigan (Founding Partner/President of Primitive Makeup) gave: Sustainability is thoughtfulness. At the end of the day, we all have to make tough decisions about our brands and in our lifestyles, what makes the most impact in the long run is our continued commitment to making the healthiest decisions we can for ourselves and our communities. Thanks for that ladies.

You can read more about Kristen, the workshop,  and the panelists involved by following this link.