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For the Love of Essential Oils: Q&A With EO Products Founder Susan Griffin-Black

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For the Love of Essential Oils: Q&A With EO Products Founder Susan Griffin-Black

Alexis Krauss

EO stands for Essential Oils and these pure plant essences are the heart and soul of EO Products. EO Products co-founder Susan Griffin-Black is an essential oils expert and has dedicated herself to formulating products made with the safest, most effective and transformative plant oils.  The first time Jess and I tried the EO Products Organic Body Serum we knew it needed to be included in our #TRUTHBEAUTY Bags and we're thrilled that so many of you are now acquainted with this incredible company. We were eager to learn more about Susan's passion for essential oils and her commitment to nurturing such a socially responsible company. In this exclusive interview Susan educates us on EO Products' formulations and shares her thoughts on the natural beauty boom. Enjoy! Xoxo Alexis

What inspired you to start EO Products?

I started EO with my business partner Brad Black 20 years ago. I was passionate about the energy and vitality of essential oils, making wholesome and beautiful products and Brad was a great guerrilla marketer who could figure out the manufacturing process. We started EO for a few reasons; the first is we wanted to make healthy, safe products for our family and friends. Additionally, we wanted to live an integrated life and be able to be present for ourselves, kids and family – so we set up shop 7 minutes from home in San Francisco. Of course we had to make a living, so we were practical and bootstrapped it all along the way. 

Tell us about your love for essential oils.

I’ve been working with essential oils for many years and they’re like my friends. We have a natural affinity and deep connection. Essential oils not only smell beautiful, they have a powerful influence on mind and body, and they enable us to appreciate the inner-connectedness of our world. 

Susan Griffin-Black Co-Founder and Co-CEO of EO Products.

Susan Griffin-Black Co-Founder and Co-CEO of EO Products.

As one of the first companies to manufacture its own natural products, how has your vision for EO changed over time? 

Our vision has stayed pretty constant through the years. Manufacturing in house is challenging, but we have always prioritized keeping manufacturing in house because we want full visibility into how our products are made, by whom, and with what ingredients. What has changed is appreciating the challenges of scaling a business and the purpose for doing so. Intentional growth for more impact and purpose has been our guide. We are still engaged for people, planet, purpose and profit. In addition we're a certified B Corp and have the benefit of being audited, so there are metrics to how we do and what we do.  

What do you find most exciting about the world of natural beauty right now? 

I love that consumers are empowering themselves with knowledge about the products they use. Natural beauty (and natural products in general) is becoming an important part of our cultural landscape. As someone who has fought for transparency in business and ingredients for 20 years, it’s rewarding and exciting to see it resonate with consumers on a wider scale. There is more self-acceptance and the idea of beauty from the inside out is slowly making its way into the mainstream. This is so important for girls and women. Integrating who you are with how you feel and look is a big deal for self-esteem and resilience. 

Tell us about your experience as a female founder in the beauty industry.

I remember going to a small gathering 15 years ago with 100 people selected as the "Next Gen" by natural product industry leaders and asking, "Where are all the women business leaders?" There were many women there, however very few had started their own companies, especially in the natural beauty sector. The culture and leadership by design, not by intent, was "sensitive male." I learned and understood the financial and business side of things so it was helpful in connecting to and garnering male support and financing. There are a lot of kind, smart, compassionate and visionary men in the natural products industry.  Female angel investors at that time were almost non-existent – it was before the tech boom, etc. so it was a very different time. My closest female friends are all entrepreneurs and founded their own companies: restaurant, yoga studio, interior and clothing designer so we have been on the path together for all these years. I am so grateful for their company and support. 

How is EO able to make products that are safe, effective and affordable?

We make healthy products accessible to almost everyone and believe products that are good for you don’t have to be expensive. For our EveryOne brand that we launched in late 2012, we took what we learned from our original EO line, and created simple, clean, and performance-based formulations that are less expensive and come in larger 32 oz. bottles.

Why do you think so many brands continue to formulate their products with harmful synthetic compounds? 

I think most of the time it comes down to "not knowing" and not really being interested in how to do things differently. It depends who you are, what you are curious and passionate about and how you want to live.  Synthetic ingredients are much cheaper than natural ones, and they are easier to find. There’s also the consistency issue - in the case of synthetic fragrance vs. essential oils, for example, it’s much more expensive to use essential oils, and their consistency varies from year to year due to growing and weather conditions. But just because it’s easier doesn’t make it right. I foresee a big shift in this area in the coming years. Companies will start to formulate with healthier ingredients as consumers demand them.

What is the best beauty advice you have ever received? 

Beauty is the presence of love, kindness, respect and knowing that we are all inner- connected. It's our natural state of being: happy and grateful and free…

-Susan