As part of my duties as the event ambassador for A Night for Green Beauty, it is my privilege to introduce not just the amazing brands that are participating in the event, but also one of its sponsors: the beautiful green beauty retailer Integrity Botanicals. Check out my interview with its delightful founder Terri and brace yourselves, folks! There is a biiiig treat for you in store!

Those of you who follow me on Instagram are well aware of my love for Integrity Botanicals. When I first discovered it about a year ago, it was a darling little shop with a well-curated selection of moderately priced green beauty products. What set it apart was the almost impossibly fast shipping and the general care that went into their customer service.

Since that first encounter, I have seen IB grow into one of the most elegant, luxurious, well-curated and beautiful green beauty destinations. The wonderful thing is that as the store added high-end luxury brands like La Bella Figura, Strange Invisible Perfumes and Laurel Skin, it did not abandon its selection of affordable and practical brands. I simply love the fact that I can get my high-performing skincare, elegant perfume, party makeup, toothpaste and diaper balm in one spot.

The other thing that didn’t change is Integrity Botanicals’ impeccable customer service. Packages are still delivered with blinding speed (and keep in mind that IB is based in Texas, so the speed with which their packages arrive to NYC is especially staggering), accompanied with thoughtful notes (on pretty stationary) and filled with generous samples. Speaking of samples, IB’s sample program is terrific: 3 free samples with every order and a choice of over 200 products. They also offer that crazy-fast shipping free over $50 and signing up for their email list gives you a 15% discount.

Family Photo

Any business is a reflection of its owners and Integrity Botanicals is no exception. Its founders, Terri and Marc, are absolutely delightful. They are also parents, which I think explains why their store has such a wonderfully practical bent. I was lucky to be able to interview Terri and here she is, in her own words.

Which part of ANFGB are you most excited to experience?

The people!  We love the opportunity to see all the brand founders, bloggers and customers in person.  I feel like we have developed relationships with so many amazing individuals over the past few years.  We interact with so many of these people on a regular basis via email, phone and social media, but this is generally the one time a year we get to see everyone in person.  Aside from that, we’re (obviously) huge green beauty fans and there are some new lines we’re interested in checking out.  Plus, a lot of brands introduce new products at the event so we are excited to see what surprises they have in store.

Is this your first time visiting Chicago? If not, what are your tips for first-time visitors? If it is, what are you most excited to see and do?

It’s funny…Marc and I have lived in 3 of the 4 biggest cities in the US: New York, LA and Houston, but we have yet to visit the other one, Chicago.  I wish we could spend more time exploring Chicago, but until we add additional staff to our little business (Marc and I manage the essential day-to-day operations) we will only have a couple of days to make the most of the Windy City. Marc and I are big foodies so we are already planning our eating tour of Chicago.  Les Nomades, Avec, Grace and MK are on the short list.  Other than that, we hope to fit in either Willis Tower or 360 Chicago and a walk on Lakefront Trail.  I am also excited to experience the “culture” of Chicago. As I mentioned we’ve lived on the East Coast, West Coast and in the South and all are very unique and special in their own way. It will be very interesting to see what Chicago is like.

Integrity Botanicals really seems to have grown and evolved as a business. Was this always the plan or are you making changes as you go along? Do you have more changes and surprises in store?

 You know, I’m not sure there was ever a plan per se.  When we launched the business almost 4 years ago, we felt like there was so much trial and error in making the conversion to green beauty products.  We wanted to create a place where people could shop and be confident that they were getting safe, natural and effective beauty products.  For most people, making the switch to green beauty is a daunting process. I think a lot of people don’t realize that we have personally tested every single product before we decide to carry it. This is to ensure that our customers are getting the most effective and highest quality products available.

Fast forward a few years and now there are so many amazing brands to choose from that far outperform their chemical-laden counterparts.  We continually strive to provide our customers with the best selection of eco-luxe beauty products from around the globe.  While our client base has grown, our business has stayed the same size.  I’m not sure we’re big enough to even qualify as a small business.  There are no venture capitalists or investors backing us, no big corporate offices and no one to bring me my coffee or lunch…well, except for Marc.  We’re more of a micro business.   But, this allows us to provide greater attention to detail and a personalized touch to our business.  When a customer calls us, we know the name.  I personally handled their order and wrote them a note or I know them from connecting through email or on social media.

Looking forward, there are a lot of things we would like to do, but we try not to lose sight of what got us to where we are today.  A while back a customer wrote us an email and said “I always enjoy receiving packages from you.  The packaging, notes and samples are the best!  I hope that as your business grows you continue this level of care.”  That really resonated with me.  Great customer service is paramount for us. The challenge for us is how to grow the business without losing our personal touch. I am a people person and love connecting and sending love in each package. Being small allows us to really know our customers so I can make informed recommendations and add samples of products that they may have not otherwise discovered on their own.  I love to help people and guide them into a skin care routine that suits their individual skin’s needs. For me, it’s extremely rewarding knowing that I am not only helping someone make a healthier lifestyle choice, but also look and feel more beautiful. We’re not trying to be the green Sephora.  We’re just trying to be the best Integrity Botanicals we can be.

Coming later this year, you will see more makeup, aromatherapy and a few select luxe skincare brands pop up. We’ll also have plenty of great giveaways, special offers and promotions so stay tuned on social media in the months ahead.

Are there any “dirty” products that you struggled to replace and have you managed to find a clean alternative?

 Looking back, for us the most difficult transition was deodorant.  Granted this is going back four plus years, but finding an effective natural deodorant at the time was sooo hard for us.  I think we tried 30 to 40 different deodorants before we found Soapwalla, which was like a godsend for us at the time.  Since then several other really great deodorants brands have emerged.  The Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda Free deodorant is my current fave. I can be a little sensitive to baking soda, so this was a great find for me.

As a parent and a business owner, your life must be pretty hectic. What is your favorite way to relax and unwind?

Sleep? No, just kidding…Marc and I get very little down time.  We work 7 days a week and our 2 year old doesn’t give us any breaks. All of our family live 1500 miles away so there is no one to hand the munchkin off to either for a breather.  Exercise is a very important stress reliever.  We make sure to get to the gym a minimum of three times a week.  Thank God our gym has an amazing child-care facility.  I always leave the gym feeling more energized and refreshed like the weight has been taken off my shoulders. If I can make it in time for a class, I love to do Yoga and Spin.   Marc and I also do a date night twice a month.  Marc always makes me surrender my iPhone (which is very hard as I am glued to it and manage all of our social media, etc…) so we can unplug for an hour or two.  I recently discovered Lotus Wei and the Flower Elixirs and Energy Mists have helped me unwind and deal with the chaos of managing a business full time and taking care of a 2 year old boy. I love the Inner Peace and Quiet Mind to help me relax and feel more calm. A glass of wine once in a while helps too…

What are your top 5 products you can’t live without?

Wow, this is a really tough question! We have been testing out green beauty products for more than 4 years so there has been a lot of products rotating in and out of our bathroom. However, there are a few special products that I continually go back to that make me feel beautiful…Josh Rosebrook’s Active Enzyme Exfoliator is number 1! It was one of the very first products I tried years ago and to this day, it’s a staple in our beauty cabinet. I can always see a difference in the texture and tone in my skin as well as the plumpness and glow that I get immediately after using it and for a couple of days afterwards. Other products that I cannot live without are W3LL People’s Narcissist Foundation + Concealer Stick (on my 3rd tube!), W3LL People’s Mascara (the best mascara I have used all around), May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt (although I have sensitive skin, this works wonders for decongesting and smoothing away tiny bumps) and finally, Kypris’ Moonlight Catalyst: I can notice a difference in my skin’s tone, texture and clarity the morning after using it. I love to combine it with Kypris’ Beauty Elixir III every other night.

The green beauty industry has grown tremendously in the last few years. In your opinion, what are the biggest changes, how do you see the industry growing and changing in the future and what are its biggest challenges.

Wow, I think I could write a book on that one.  I’d say the biggest change has been the change from green beauty being considered a fringe, sort of hippie movement just a few years ago to a decidedly more mainstream movement.  Now you can even find legitimate, natural beauty products at Target!

Green beauty products have also gone from being sort of crunchy, granola stuff sold only at natural food stores to luxe, ultra premium products that not only rival, but surpass their conventional counterparts.

I think the green beauty market will continue to grow, but as the market for these products grow, you will see more and more big corporate money coming into the space.  This is a double-edged sword.  With a bigger business, you achieve economies of scale and cost to the average consumer will come down.  On the other hand, so much of what makes the green beauty industry great is the passion and involvement of the brand founders.  If you look at brands such as May Lindstrom or Laurel, these are artisanal, handcrafted products and the founders are immensely passionate about what they do.  You will never find that in a business the size of Estee Lauder.

From a retailer perspective, as the green beauty market grows, the challenges are much the same. As bigger corporations move into the green beauty space, many small retailers will be squeezed out of the market and much of the personal touch will be lost.

We are very passionate about what we do at Integrity Botanicals. For us, it is a privilege to be a part of such an innovative and fun industry. The green beauty world is such a close knit community and we hope that never changes. We are excited about what lies ahead and we are prepared for any challenges the future may hold.

IG Gift

Isn’t she awesome? And now for the big surprise: Integrity Botanicals is offering one lucky reader of HH a gift card to their store for… Wait for it!.. $250! You will be sent an e-gift card to spend on anything in the store. Pretty amazing, right? To enter, simply click the Rafflecopter link below and follow me, A Night for Green Beauty and Integrity Botanicals on Twitter and Instagram and comment on this blog post. The giveaway will run through Thursday and the winner will be announced on Friday. Good luck, darlings! xx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: As you all know, I always take my own pictures for the blog. This time, however, I used the images generously provided by Integrity Botanicals. For starters, they are much better able to represent their look and, well, they are just gorgeous, aren’t they? 

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